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NFPA Today

101 Posts authored by: lisamariesinatra Employee

wildfire

A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have been burning in Southern California since Tuesday prompting the National Weather Service to call this, “the strongest and longest duration Santa Ana wind event we have seen so far this season.”


To date, according to officials, there has been zero containment on the two most destructive fires in the area, the Thomas and Creek, and a third fire, the Bel-Air Fire has shut down the northbound 405 freeway near the Getty Center as of this morning. These Santa Ana winds, which are seasonal dry winds caused by high pressure over the Great Basin, are not expected to die down until Thursday.

 

Thousands of residents have been evacuated since Tuesday with more evacuation notices expected.

 

NFPA and its wildfire partners remind residents to: 

* Stay alert. If you are near the fire activity or in an area with a Red Flag Warning - where conditions are ripe for

wildfire - stay tuned to news and official reports and be ready to leave; don’t wait for an official evacuation order.
* Prepare a plan. If your community is not in immediate danger from the fires but you live in a surrounding area, it’s still very important to construct a plan for (and with!) your family in case you need to evacuate.
* Create a “go-kit” for every member of the family and for your pets. The bag should contain essentials you will need in case you’re away from home for a few days.

 

NFPA has a number of valuable resources including checklists and tip sheets that will help get you started and prepared. Find them all at www.nfpa.org/wildfire. 

 

The Southern California fires come on the heels of the deadliest and most destructive fires in the state's history in Northern California wine country in early October that killed 44 people and destroyed nearly 9,000 structures.

As an employer in the electrical field you have dedicated yourself to one of the most rewarding professions. Safety remains a top priority for you and everyone on the job.    
To this end, NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace continues to evolve and shape the way employers and employees approach electrical safety to help save lives and avoid losses due to the hazards that are present when working on or near electrical systems. As an employer, it also assists you in complying with OSHA guidelines.   
NFPA knows that electrical professionals who remain committed to safe work practices need access to the latest code and 70E resources and information to allow workers to do the job as safely and efficiently as possible. For example, the 2018 edition has emphasized performing an arc-flash risk assessment as a critical part of every task being performed. Chris Coache, NFPA’s senior electrical engineer, explains it this way:   
The risk assessment procedure now specifically requires you to address human error and its negative consequences on people, work environments, and equipment. To assist in implementation, new Informative Annex Q (Human Performance and Workplace Electrical Safety) has also been added.
Get the full explanation from Chris in our short video below; it’s the first of our five-part series that explains some of the top changes in the 2018 edition. (NOTE: This clip is part of a pre-recorded full webinar presented in July 2017).   
Want to learn even more about this particular change? NFPA’s Electrical Technical Lead, Derek Vigstol just wrote about it in his latest “In Compliance” column in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.   
Let NFPA provide you with everything you need to take your electrical safety skills to the next level with knowledge gained right from the source. Find this information and additional resources related to 70E including articles, blog series, fact sheet, trainings and products, at www.nfpa.org/70E.      

nfpa 241

The energy was palpable this morning, the second day of the “Compliance through Collaboration” forum held at NFPA this week. More than 60 professionals including facility managers, enforcers, contractors, designers, inspectors, installers, and fire service personnel from across the country came ready to engage in discussions on the building process, and to learn from their colleagues.


The morning kicked off with a group of passionate, engaged panelists who addressed safety on construction sites, most notably hot work safety, a problem found in many jurisdictions, and the related standards: NFPA 241: Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alterations and Demolition Operations, and NFPA 51B: Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work. This included an emotional address from Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal, Jack Dempsey, from the Boston Fire Department, who spoke about the tragic loss of two firefighters in the 2014 Back Bay fire, and the subsequent evolution of NFPA 241 and creation of the Boston Hot Work Safety Certificate Program, after this incident.


Later discussions looked at construction site safety from the role of fire prevention project and safety managers tasked with training, implementing and communicating safety plans to all those working on a project. Safety managers from such building companies as Gilbane, Lee Kennedy and Suffolk gave compelling and informed presentations, pointing to the lessons they have learned (even the hard ones) and stressing the importance of designing a program/plan to keep everyone safe, working together and successful.


Regardless of what area of the building process these participants hail from or at what point they are engaged in a building project, the overall theme of this morning’s presentations was clear: there’s always something more we can do, more lessons we can learn, and we can always do better. Still, participants agree that they are seeing progress and it’s encouraging. Forums such as these, they say, are helpful in raising awareness and educating people on the most important issues. And as the name of this particular forum suggests, we're reminded of just how powerful collaboration can be.


Find more information about construction fires at www.nfpa.org/constructionfires. Up tomorrow: a panel discussion on energy storage.

 

Photo (left to right): Dennis Mullen, Safety Director, Gilbane Building Company; Doug Standbridge, Safety Manager/FPPM, Suffolk; Jack Dempsey, Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal, Boston Fire Department; Tom O'Donnel, CFPS, Associate Inspection Engineer, Inspectional Services Division, City of Boston; Paul Fitzpatrick, Construction Safety Unit, Boston Fire Department; Jason Edic, CSP, Lee Kennedy Company, Inc.; Ken Colgate, Vice President, Construction, WS Development, and Matt Bourque, Fire Protection Program Manager, WS Development.

NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace continues to evolve and shape the way employers and employees approach electrical safety to help save lives and avoid losses due to the hazards that are present when working on or near electrical systems. Having the right tools to help guide you and your employees through this process is key. And that’s where the 2018 70E Handbook comes in.   
70E, worker safetyNot sure how the Handbook can help? Try and think of it this way: As an employer, you need to comply with OSHA guidelines, right? So, OSHA is the “what” you need to do and NFPA 70E is the “how” you do it. The newly published 2018 70E Handbook goes one step further and gives you the all-important “whys” and support when you need it.    
You may ask, “Can a Handbook really do all that?” YES! The 2018 edition includes more than 150 full-color photos, charts and illustrations that really bring these safety concepts to life. And we’re pleased to announce two new features you’ll want to take advantage of and share with staff. They include:   
  •  “Worker alerts,” which highlight crucial electrical safety information specifically designed for the employee 
  • OSHA Connection" information, which shows how OSHA's electrical safety standards correspond with certain NFPA 70E requirements 
Other great features of the Handbook include: 
  • The entire 2018 NFPA 70E text plus exclusive commentary that explains requirements and their intent, and it breaks down tasks. The Handbook also addresses different equipment and scenarios. 
  • Commentary on major updates, such as the modification of arc flash hazard identification table [Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a)] to the new Table 130.5(C) that helps determine the likelihood that an arc flash could occur regardless of the chosen risk assessment method.  
  • Case studies to help examine “what went right” and “what went wrong” with real examples of how NFPA 70E applies in the workplace. 
  • Supplements that include a list of requirement headings from the 2017 NEC that directly impact the implementation of safety-related work practices. You’ll also find extracted material from NFPA 70B: Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance on electrical equipment maintenance, and guidance for writing a safety procedure. 
Read more about the “power” of handbooks and how they can really help on the job, and provide your team with the tools they need to get the job done safely and efficiently. Learn more about 70E, purchase the Handbook and find other 70E-related resources at www.nfpa.org/70e.   

Just as Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina begin the long task of recovery in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the country now braces for Hurricanes Jose and Maria, which are bringing extreme rain, wind and flooding back to the Caribbean and along the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts over the next few days.

 

During this hurricane season that runs through November 30, many coastal areas from the Atlantic to the Gulf and over to the Pacific can expect to see tropical storms, hurricanes or typhoons (the names of these events differ based on the area where you live). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), even if you don’t live directly on the coast, these storms can cause flooding hundreds of miles inland and can persist for several days after it has dissipated. Storm surges, which are defined by NOAA as abnormal rises of water generated by a storm’s winds, are the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the U.S. and not only cause massive destruction along the coast, but can travel several miles inland, affecting bays, rivers and estuaries. So it's important to be prepared to evacuate when authorities tell you to do so.

 

If you live in an area prone to these types of severe storms or know someone who does, NFPA provides action steps for residents to take before, during and after an event. The resources are free to download and can be shared easily. For first responders, electrical professionals and others who work with communities on preparedness activities and post-event recovery, NFPA also provides a number of resources to aid you in your efforts.

 

Find these resources and much more visit www.nfpa.org/disaster.

 

NFPA’s thoughts are with the residents of communities affected by these recent hurricanes. Please stay safe!

 

Photo: courtesy of the National Hurricane Center/NOAA

campus fire safety

If you’re a facility manager, building owner or enforcement official in charge of emergency preparedness for a college or university campus, you know a one-size-fits-all emergency management plan won’t cut it when it comes to the safety of students, faculty, staff and your facilities. You need a plan specifically tailored to your school’s needs and priorities with the ability to review and revise the plan as needed.

In honor of Campus Fire Safety Month this month, now is a great time to revisit that current plan or learn how to create one for the first time for your facility. Not sure where to start? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is hosting a one-day training (in October and December) that will have you feeling confident and ready for the task at hand. Through interactive discussions and scenario-based instruction you’ll learn why it’s important to implement an emergency management plan and the best way to do so. What’s more you’ll get a good grasp of how to identify components of mitigation, response, continuity and recovery, and how to perform a resource needs analysis. In addition, you’ll learn how standards such as NFPA 1600: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations Programs can be an invaluable tool throughout the entire process. 

Once you’ve completed the training, you'll be fully prepared to critically review your facility's current plan to identify areas that need improvement and/or be ready to develop a new plan based on the strategies, tools and resources you receive at the training.

Let Campus Fire Safety Month be the jumpstart you need to start focusing on facility safety and preparedness at your school. Visit NFPA’s training page for more information including locations and dates, and to register.

As floodwaters recede and communities in Texas and Florida begin the slow task of rebuilding neighborhoods and businesses in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, President Jim Pauley has affirmed NFPA support to residents and first responders as they engage in recovery efforts.

 

 

NFPA offers a number of resources for residents, including tips, toolkits and emergency planning information, in addition to key action steps they can take when returning home to help reduce the risk of injury from electrical hazards due to the submersion of electrical systems and appliances in floodwaters. These steps include:

  • If your home has experienced flooding, it’s important to keep your power off until a professional electrician has inspected your entire home for safety, including appliances. Water can damage the internal components in electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, and cause shock and fire hazards. Have a qualified electrician come visit your home and determine what electrical equipment should be replaced and what can be reconditioned.
  • If you smell gas in your home or neighborhood, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
  • Treat all downed wires as if they are live even if you don’t see any sparks, and especially if there is standing water nearby. Alert authorities immediately if you see downed wires in your area.
  • In the event that electricity may not be available to your home yet and you have not experienced any water in your home, generators are a viable option to power some of your small appliances. However, if used improperly they also pose a fire hazard, risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution. Tips for safe use of generators.

 

NFPA also provides guidelines for electrical professionals to help prevent equipment failures and worker injuries when they are tasked with recovering electrical equipment after a disaster:

 

Additional disaster-related safety information and resources include:

 

Find these and other NFPA tips and resources by visiting www.nfpa.org/disaster.

Fort McMurray Fire, wildfire, wildfire hazards

The wildfire disaster that struck Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada in May 2016 destroyed more than 2,400 structures and created insured losses of more than $3.5 billion. The incident captured the hearts and minds of the media and citizens the world over, and all eyes were focused on how Canada was coping with one of the most destructive wildfires ever. To that end, Canada's Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) set out on a mission to investigate why some homes survived the fire while others were vulnerable to ignition.

According to Alan Westhaver, principal of ForestWise Environmental Consulting, Ltd., who reported on the investigation in his session at NFPA’s 2017 Conference & Expo in June, the root of the problem was home ignition by embers. This is not a new problem as post-fire data from other large wildfires (check out my post about CAL FIRE) have shown us that it’s not the big flames that engulf a house and burn it to the ground; it’s those tiny little embers flying through the air for a mile or more that land on homes and yards, and ignite all that is flammable in its path.
Westhaver explains that embers act very much like how snow falls. Hear his description of ember showers in this clip from my interview with him.
After listening to Westhaver's explanation you realize it makes sense, right? And yet, not only are people unaware of the kinds of activities that can help counteract the destruction that embers cause, but according to Westhaver, wildfire safety advocates are also not pushing this message hard enough.
Westhaver shared this and other lessons he and his colleagues learned from the Fort McMurray Fire. He even compared the data of this fire to two other large-scale fires in Canada: Slave Lake and Kelowna. Given the studies conducted by all three fires, Westhaver told his audience that they now have a better understanding of the cause of home ignition, home attribute and fire pathways, and he believes this information can (and does) help inform more effective approaches to wildfire risk mitigation.
As a firefighter, a public safety professional, a homeowner, planner, policymaker or municipal leader you'll want to hear the entire audio presentation, which provides the full scope of the investigation and lots more insight into the great work Canada continues to do around wildfire safety and preparedness. Once you've listened to it, let us know what you think.
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions - with attached audio/video - here.

National Preparedness Month, natural disasters

September is National Preparedness Month with the theme, "Disasters Don't Plan Ahead. You can.," which serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare–now and throughout the year–for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work and visit. As the southeastern U.S. braces for its second hurricane in a couple of weeks, Hurricane Irma, NFPA can help by providing action steps that will help you prepare your family and your home for the storm, flood waters and a possible evacuation:

  • Make an emergency supplies kit including water and copies of important documents, in a waterproof, portable container. Keep the kit in an easily accessible location so if you need to evacuate, you can grab it quickly
  • Fill your car's gas tank in case you need to leave the area
  • Bring in all outside furniture, decorations, garbage cans, etc. to reduce the risk of damage these items can cause in severe winds
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so; unplug electrical appliances and move them to high points if possible
  • Turn off propane tanks 
  • Evacuate your home when told to do so by authorities

Additional information about hurricane safety, including a free, downloadable tip sheet on flooding safety, can be found on NFPA's "Get Ready" webpage.

 

In the west, wildfires continue to threaten communities in Montana, California, Idaho and other northwest and central states. NFPA offers helpful tips and resources to help you prepare ahead of an evacuation. Consider the following action steps you can put into motion now:

  • Sign up for local emergency notifications/alerts
  • Have an evacuation plan and a designated meeting place where family members will reconnect after the evacuation
  • Make an emergency supply kit and keep it handy when evacuation is necessary
  • Remove deck/ patio furniture, cushions and door mats to prevent ember ignitions
  • Remove portable propane tanks from the deck/patio and turn them off
  • Know how to turn off the gas to the home
  • Make sure windows, doors and garage doors are closed; close the windows of vehicals that will remain at the residence while you’re evacuated

Find these tips and more on NFPA's Firewise USATM webpage.

 

Starting this week, check back with us on our Fire Break and Safety Source blogs for resources, tips and ideas that will help you and your family prepare for a crisis, whether you live in the wildland-urban interface, the suburbs or downtown. And stay tuned to our social media channels that will highlight preparedness messaging you can share with family members, neighbors and your community.

 

Learn what you can do before, during and after each type of emergency. Get started now! Join us for National Preparedness Month and together let's do our part to help reduce our risk.

campus fire safety, best roommates evahSurrounded by college safety, fire and building officials, and fire safety advocates, Massachusetts Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennet launched Campus Fire Safety Month (September) at The College of the Holy Cross by reminding college students and their parents to make fire safety a priority in off-campus housing.

 

According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, while colleges work to make sure dormitories have fire alarm systems and fire sprinklers where required, officials are most concerned about the safety of off-campus housing. Since 2006, 100 percent of all campus-related fire deaths have occurred in off-campus housing. Five college students aged 19-22 have died in Massachusetts off-campus housing fires in the past decade. The lack of working smoke alarms or a second exit was a factor in these deaths. 

 

To this end, Public Safety Secretary Bennet announced the start of Best Roommates Evah!, a Massachusetts public awareness campaign that focuses on two aspects of fire safety in off-campus housing: the importance of having working smoke alarms and having two ways out of the homeThis is the second year of the campaign, which provides posters, talking points, a customizable local press release, logo, and links to college fire safety resources for students, parents, colleges and resident assistants to share. Electronic bulletin boards and highway flash signs will also be evident across Massachusetts roadways to remind students and parents as they head to college this fall.

 

As part of the campaign, a local PSA was developed that features Boston firefighters who responded to a fatal off-campus fire (see PSA below):

 

 

As Best Roommates Evah! kicks off this month and students begin moving into college housing, public safety officials want to make one thing clear: no matter what college or university a student attends here in the Commonwealth, parents and young adults are encouraged to contact local housing, building or fire authorities for an inspection if they have any concerns about the safety of an apartment or house they have rented.

 

Learn more about this campaign and find information and resources you can share with students and others interested in college fire safety by visiting www.BestRoommatesEvah.org.

campus fire safety, fire safety abroad, student fire safety

September is Campus Fire Safety Month and this year NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety (The Center) are teaming up to host their third national “Campus Fire Safety for Students” campaign. The campaign raises awareness about the dangers of fires among college-aged students who live in on- and off-campus college housing.

 

According to NFPA’s latest report, “Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities and Barracks,” between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 4,100 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties. Approximately seven in 10 (72%) fires in these properties began in the kitchen or cooking area, accounting for 44% of civilian injuries and 14% of direct property damage. The report also states that fires are more common between the hours of 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. and on weekends; September and October are the peak months for fires in dormitories.

 

To help address this issue, the campaign provides a host of resources for students, parents and fire safety educators that focus on reducing fire risk in college housing, including video tips and checklists made by students for students. Each week on our Safety Source blog, we’ll share these resources plus a host of other tips and information you can share via social media, on college websites and in campus newspapers, for posting in dorms and on common area bulletin boards, and many other places.

 

Learn more about campaign at www.nfpa.org/campus and www.campusfiresafety.org.

portable generator

Hurricane Harvey continues to pound areas along the Texas coastline and surrounding towns and cities bringing with it high winds, torrential rain and extreme flooding. In some areas, while residents have not been directly affected by severe floods, power outages are a major concern. Still thousands of others who have left their homes for safer ground because of flooding will eventually return to assess their homes for damage and work on rebuilding their neighborhoods.


When authorities say it’s safe to return home, or if you are one of many residents who are at home but have experienced a power outage, NFPA can assist by providing the following electrical safety tips to help reduce your risk for injury:

  • If your home has experienced flooding, it’s important to keep your power off until a professional electrician has inspected your entire home for safety, including appliances. Water can damage the internal components in electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, and cause shock and fire hazards. Have a qualified electrician come visit your home and determine what electrical equipment should be replaced and what can be reconditioned.
  • If you smell gas in your home or neighborhood, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
  • Treat all downed wires as if they are live even if you don’t see any sparks, and especially if there is standing water nearby. Alert authorities immediately if you see downed wires in your area.
  • In the event that electricity may not be available to your home yet and you have not experienced any water in your home, generators are a viable option to power some of your small appliances. However, if used improperly they also pose a fire hazard, risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution.

 

The following are key guidelines for using a portable generator: 

  • Generators should be operated in well ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
  • Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
    Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
  • Make sure to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
  • Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is running.
  • Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas.

 

NFPA’s safety tip sheet on portable generators provides these steps and more to help keep you safe. Find it at www.nfpa.org/generators.

 

For any questions or concerns about your home’s electrical system, contact a qualified electrician who can help, and visit our electrical safety webpage for additional tips and resources.

 

More severe weather safety information is available by visiting NFPA’s severe storm fire safety webpage.

hurricanes, floods, electrical safety, hurricane harvey

 

Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coastline last Friday evening bringing with it winds of about 130 mph, torrential rains and significant flooding. Parts of Louisiana and the lower Mississippi Valley are also expecting heavy rains due to the hurricane this week.

 

As Harvey bears down on the coast, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is alerting contractors in the area of their “Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment” document aimed specifically at contractors who will be called in to help with the damage assessment once the waters have receded. The guide is free and available for download on NEMA's website.

 

The document provides guidelines on how to handle electrical equipment that has been exposed to water. It's designed for suppliers, installers, inspectors and users of electrical products, and outlines items that require complete replacement or those that can be reconditioned by a trained professional. Such equipment includes:

* Electrical distribution equipment

* Motor circuits

* Power equipment

* Transformers

* Wire, cable and flexible cords

* Wiring devices

* GFCIs and surge protectors

* Lighting fixtures and ballasts,

* Motors and electronic products

 

According to NEMA, field representatives have reached out Texas officials, local contractors and building officials to offer this guidance during the clean-up to help ensure that electrical safety remains a top priority during the initial assessment and cleanup of flooded communities. NEMA also recommends that inspectors, suppliers and others contact the original manufacturer of the equipment if there are questions and/or a need for specific recommendations. 

 

Industry professionals looking for electrical information related to NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code) can find it on NFPA's  NEC webpage. Additional information on electrical worker safety (NFPA 70E) is also available.  

 

Image: weather.com

 

If you’re a project manager responsible for reviewing and approving plans, or an engineer or designer who needs to ensure sprinkler system plans are ready for submission to AHJs, then you know there’s a lot riding on the accuracy and timeliness of these plans. So, how then do you best tackle these day-to-day challenges and put your best foot forward with every project? NFPA’s "Automatic Sprinkler Systems Plans Review Two-Day Training and Workshop," that’s how!

 

If you’ve never taken one of our training classes before, the workshop will help you build upon your on-the-job expertise with additional training that shows you how to avoid the pitfalls of poor planning, and provides the necessary tools to help you save time and avoid costly and potentially dangerous errors and omissions. But don’t take our word for it. In the following video, two participants tell us in their own words how the training provided them with the necessary information, tools and tips that in turn gave them the confidence they needed going forward to review plans and approve them accurately.

 


As an added benefit, you’ll notice that this training goes beyond the usual “lecture” style format. It actually focuses on practical, hands-on learning where you’ll will be able to review plans and calculations, identify deficiencies and document findings. Based on NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, the workshop focuses on:

 

* Blueprint reading skills

* Regulatory requirements for plans and calculations submittals
* Sprinkler specifications
* An 8-step process for hydraulic calculations review 
* An 8-step process for sprinkler plans review


We invite you to join us September 28 – 29, 2017 for this unique training experience. NFPA is devoted to helping you do your job better throughout your entire career. So come find out more, and register on NFPA's training page.  

CAL FIRE, wildfire hazards, C&E2017, embers
As most of us know, states across the U.S. can no longer rely on a defined fire season. This sobering truth is especially evident in California where the fire season is 70 days longer than it was 40 years ago, and fire ignitions in the state have greatly increased in the last few years (in 2016, fire ignitions were greater than the 5-year average).
And while these stats are staggering, in California there has been a dramatic increase in prevention activities over recent years, including defensible space inspections, public education efforts and vegetation treatment projects funded by grants. So why are an alarming number of structures still being destroyed by wildfires?
That’s the question Dave Shew, Staff Chief for CAL FIRE, Planning and Risk Analysis Department, Office of the State Fire Marshall, posed to a packed room for his session: “Structure Loss in the WUI: Why do Losses Continue to Rise Despite Increased Prevention Efforts?” at NFPA’s 2017 Conference & Expo in June. It's also the subject of a recent NFPA Journal article, "Structure Survival," where Shew is interviewed.
While Shew made it clear in his session that the answer doesn’t consist of one "silver bullet,” the keys to resolving the challenge, he says, are tied to embers and communities working more closely together on solutions. Here, Shew explains that there is more than one way to tackle the wildfire problem.
To this end, Shew says that wildfire safety advocates still have a lot of work to do when it comes to educating the public about the dangers of embers and the impact they have on the survivability of a home during a fire. "We have to get better at talking to the public," he says.
One way to do that is for communities to collaborate with their local fire departments. Shew believes the next paradigm shift in the fire service will see firefighters taking a more active role in talking to homeowners about wildfire risk. Shew told the audience he knows this concept doesn’t make him a popular guy in the office. “My colleagues in the fire service get mad at me every time I mention it,” he says. Still, Shew explains his reasoning behind why firefighters need to get more involved with the public when it comes to wildfire education.
In all honesty, you can’t help but get caught up in Shew’s passion and determination when it comes to wildfire safety. From the positive reaction of the audience (many stayed long after the presentation was over to ask questions) it was clear they did, too. We don't want you to miss this presentation, so we've included the full audio version of his talk for you to listen to. And if you find inspiration or have thoughts to share after you’ve tuned in, we’d love to hear from you.
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions to find the attached audio/video you'd like to view.

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