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35 Posts authored by: lorrainecarli Employee

 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) headquarters in Massachusetts looks a little different this week as it is lit in red as part of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters.  The building will remain red from dusk to dawn through this Sunday, the beginning of Fire Prevention Week, to honor those firefighters who have died in the line of duty. NFFF is inviting individuals, communities, organizations, and landmarks to make this symbolic gesture to demonstrate that we remember our nation’s heroes and appreciate their sacrifice.

 

Each year NFFF, which was created in 1992 to lead the national efforts for fallen firefighters, sponsors the NFFF Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg for those firefighters who died in the line of duty the previous year. It is a fitting and moving tribute that honors those lost and supports their families as they move on with their lives. That would have been this weekend.

 

Unfortunately, like so many other things, the physical event has been postponed; but there are a number of activities taking place in addition to Light the Night. A live virtual production entitled America’s Tribute to Fallen Firefighters will premiere on Sunday at 10 am. It can be viewed on the NFFF home page and social media channels. Fire departments and others are also encouraged to participate in Bells Across America, ringing bells shortly before 10 am on Sunday. The bell holds special significance in the fire service, sounded when a firefighter dies in the line of duty.

 

This year 82 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 21 firefighters who died in previous years will be recognized. Their families will participate in a full weekend of activities in 2021.

 

You can find out more at firehero.org.

 

NFPA is proud to participate in this observance. We are equally proud, as an organization, for the role we play in reducing loss. Our staff, volunteers, and all those with whom we work, are devoted to making the world a safer place for everyone, including our first responders.

 

Scams of all kinds are occurring with greater frequency via email, phone and other platforms.

 

NFPA has been made aware of a company sending what looks like formal correspondence using both an “nfpa.org” email address and an “nfpa.org” web reference in the body of the letter, indicating that a “fire inspection” is required or has been performed. These messages threaten the recipient with civil violations and penalties for failing to respond.  It appears the communication is aimed at scaring recipients into scheduling and paying for fire inspections.
 
Please be advised that this communication is in no way related to NFPA. NFPA does not conduct fire inspections, issue inspection reports, levy fines, or perform activity related to code enforcement.  If you receive an email of this nature, we urge you to use caution in handling it, and to check with your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) or fire code enforcement agency to confirm inspection requirements in your community.

Damage from a kitchen fire in a Virginia apartment was limited thanks to the help of an automatic sprinkler system. According to a report in the Loudoun News, the fire was extinguished before the fire department arrived. The Fire Marshal’s office reported that the fire was the result of unattended food cooking on the stove.

 

Fire Chief Keith Johnson, who was on the scene and quoted in the article, says the incident illustrates both the dangers of unattended cooking and the importance of lifesaving sprinkler systems.fire sprinkler

 

“It’s important to educate the public about how fire sprinklers help to contain and prevent fires from becoming more significant emergencies,” Chief Johnson said. “Fire sprinklers save lives, including those of first responders, and greatly reduce the physical, emotional and financial damages that fires bring to a community.”

 

NFPA continues its focus on cooking fire safety in response to home cooking fires representing the leading cause of U.S. home fires. According to NFPA research, nearly half (49 percent) of all home fires involve cooking equipment; unattended cooking is the leading cause of these fires.

 

This year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.” The campaign, which runs October 4 – 10, works to better educate the public about where potential cooking hazards exist and basic but critical ways to prevent them.

 

Learn about Fire Prevention Week and share safety messages, materials, videos, and more now available on the website.  Additional information about the importance of home fire sprinklers can be found by visiting www.homefiresprinkler.org.  

 

During the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) Virtual Annual Seminar and Business & Leadership Conference in April 2020, Matt Klaus, Director of NFPA’s Technical Services, presented, “NFPA in the Time of COVID-19.” NFPA has received a number of questions from members, committee members, members of NFSA, and others about issues and technical challenges the sprinkler industry has been facing during the coronavirus pandemic.

In his presentation, Matt takes a look at Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) during COVID-19, the new Hanging and Bracing Standard, Mixed Plastic Commodities, the Owners Questionnaire, budgeting for ISTx, and more.

See his full presentation below:

Additional resources and tools can also be found at www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.

At this time, the world continues to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 and we no longer believe it is possible to host and conduct the NFPA Conference and Expo in June. NFPA is a safety organization and we would not hold an event where the well-being of staff, attendees, and business partners could be compromised in any way.

 

 

(See Jim Pauley’s full statement on the cancellation of the 2020 NFPA Conference & Expo in the video above.)

 

There are some activities that occur at the event, in particular the Association’s Annual Meeting and the election of directors to the Board, as well as the codes and standards technical meeting that NFPA will handle in a remote manner. More information on these activities will be forthcoming and will be posted on the website.

 

You can find additional information about the cancellation by visiting our conference website.

 

Our annual conference is a very important event for us, as it is important for all of you who participate. While we are disappointed we will not be meeting in person this year, we do look forward to celebrating the 125th anniversary of NFPA as an association with you at the 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo, which will be held the week of June 21, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

Stay safe during this unprecedented time. Thank you for the work you all do.

 

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our website.

In a recent TV interview, retired Fire Officer and FEMA Executive Fire Officer, Dr. Burton Clark shared insights about the state of fire safety today. A TV host with NewsChannel5 in Nashville, Tennessee opened up the discussion by pointing out a quote in Clark’s book, I Can’t Save You But I’ll Die Trying where he says, “Society needs to change how it thinks and feels about fire death.”


Clark responded by saying, “We can do better at preventing and surviving fire at all levels of society. To underscore his perspective and to reinforce the fire and life safety ecosystem that NFPA has been advocating for, Clark discussed the issue of complacency at length. Here are some of the gems from that interview.

 

  • Clark set the stage by talking about a 2017 survey out of California’s Chapman University that asked what people are afraid of. “They came up with 80 things and fire was not on that list of 80 things. Actually, zombies and ghosts were like 78 and 79, but fire was not on the list at all in terms of what people are afraid of,” the 40-year fire service veteran said.
  • “I am not blaming anybody (for not being concerned about fire). That is the way society has been almost from the Ben Franklin days. We are still stuck in a basic manual fire protection model, which means that when there is a fire people have to get on something, and go to where the fire is and put it out. Now we have big shiny apparatus and big hoses, and all the gear, but we are still doing the same thing. Somebody has to discover the fire, somebody has to be notified, and then we have to respond to it, to put the fire out. That is a manual fire protection model.”
  • “The difference is for the 21st century, we need to move to an automatic fire protection model, meaning that when the fire starts, the smoke alarm goes off to alert people, then the sprinkler head goes off, and the water puts the fire out. Then, the fire service can come. That is the only way that we will ever really solve the American fire problem. It is hard to do better with that manual fire protection model. We need to transition to an automatic building fire protection model.”

 

Clark told the interviewer that last year in Tennessee there were 99 fire deaths. “With all the best fire service in Tennessee, we still lost 99 people. Nationwide there were 2,278 fire fatalities in homes last year. We are doing the best that we can, but that’s not good enough. I think we can do better.”

 

To promote and advocate for home fire sprinklers, use NFPA and Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition resources.

Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), laid down a new year’s challenge he calls “Ban the Ban” to others concerned about reducing home fire loss. In a recent articlein the organization’s newsletter he pointed out that while a number of jurisdictions had success in passing sprinkler requirements, others were held back by anti-sprinkler efforts. Lia spurred advocates to press on. He wrote, “How can we allow a ban on improving public safety?” Further saying, “We can’t afford to sit back and watch sprinkler codes blocked … Let’s unite behind this challenge.” The overarching theme for ban the ban is to work together to change the map pictured here to reflect stronger public safety. 
Lia outlined the key steps including developing an action plan, using the resources of the Fire Sprinkler Initiativeand the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalitionto bolster local efforts and participating in National Home Fire Sprinkler Day
As we head into the new year, take the time to read his full article and commit to making greater strides in 2019. 

Phoenix Society Walk of Remembrance 2017

 

Earlier this month I attended the 29th Phoenix World Burn Congress (PWBC), the largest gathering of the burn survivor community. It is a poignant reminder of why fire prevention and life safety is so important. This is the annual gathering of those impacted by fire – survivors, caretakers, healthcare professionals, fire service - supporting one another and talking about prevention and advocacy strategies. It is an incredible experience.   

 

I went to my first PWBC in 2009 and am always amazed at how quickly 1000 people can come together in such an accepting and compassionate way. What is equally impressive is the strength, resiliency and optimism of those whose lives have been impacted by burns. In addition, their desire to help prevent future fie tragedies from occurring is remarkable.   


NFPA has had a longstanding partnership with Phoenix Society because the work of the Phoenix Society is a critical component in the full fire prevention system and intertwined with everyone who works in fire and life safety. Without the Phoenix Society, NFPA cannot fully achieve our mission. We work with Phoenix Society on the Fire Sprinkler Initiative’s Faces of Fire campaign and other projects. Most recently we produced a podcast series called The Survivors, that will be released later this month.    

 

This work is important. Survival from a burn injury in a United States hospital is nearing 96% and that is good news. But it means there are more and more people who need support throughout their life. I am honored to be the board president of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors on behalf of NFPA and help them expand their mission of building a community for transformational healing.   

 

For years, Phoenix Society has been developing leading edge resources for the burn community and continues to do so today. They amplify the survivor voice in conversations that influence the future of acute and long-term care, psychosocial support, and research. They work alongside NFPA and other partners for fire prevention and advocating for up to date fire and life safety codes.    

 

This is a critical organization doing incredible work. NFPA is excited about what the future holds and is supporting their efforts to expand services so they can reach more people in more places, increase their advocacy voice and further their leadership role in burn care.   

 

At NFPA, we often say that we never do anything alone. We have much greater impact through by working with others. Our work with Phoenix Society is moving us closer to our vision of eliminating loss from fire. 

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His Highness Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior for United Arab Emirates and NFPA Board Member Russell Leavitt were on hand to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between NFPA and the UAE Ministry of Interior during Innovation in Fire Protection: Fire Service and Code Enforcers Symposium in Abu Dhabi this week.

 

Calling it a mutual commitment to advance fire and life safety in the United Arab Emirates, NFPA President Jim Pauley signed for NFPA while Major General Jassim Mohamed Al Marzooqi signed for the UAE Ministry of Interior.

 

His Highness thanked NFPA and the conference attendees for their roles in the protection of society saying, “Collaboration is key to our success in protecting our community.”

 

The MOU includes the development of training and certification programs, joint research projects, additional conferences and seminars and adoption of various codes and standards.

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More than 150 attendees from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) participated in a first of its kind symposium this week in Abu Dhabi. Entitled Innovation in Fire Protection: Fire Service and Code Enforcers Symposium, the two-day event was aimed at fire and life safety officials from around the country and addressed the latest code and related issues impacting fire and life safety.

 

Saying it may be the first time the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) brought so many staff outside of the U.S. at once to put on this type of event, NFPA President Jim Pauley stressed the importance of working together in his keynote remarks, “It is a unique opportunity for all of us to talk about the issues facing the fire service and enforcement community today and discuss what we can do together to protect people and property from fire and other hazards.”

 

 

NFPA worked closely with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Interior to put together the program, which highlighted issues of greatest interest to the UAE. Topics included Impact of NFPA Standards in the Real World; Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Existing Buildings; Remote Inspection Program and Cinema Training Initiative; Managing Social Media; Smart Firefighting, Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems, Firefighter Operations and Industrial Fire Protection Challenges.

 

 

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NFPA President Jim Pauley joins Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior United Arab Emirates and members of the Ministry of Interior to hear the presentations.

 

Pauley talked about the historical success in fire safety noting the decrease in fires and fire deaths in recent decades but said there is more work to be done and today’s environment creates both opportunities and challenges for the fire service. “There are new challenges, new technologies and new threats that warrant new thinking and new approaches. Who would have thought that we would be talking about such futuristic things like robotics, jet packs and drones in the context of fire protection! But we are. Who would have thought we would be stretching our imaginations and building some of the incredible buildings we see today? But we are? The once unimaginable or only in science fiction is real; with real impact on fire and life safety.”

 

NFPA has increased its presence in the UAE, establishing an office about three years ago. “The Ministry of Interior’s vision is to be the safest country in the world,” said President Pauley. “They have recognized the value of the information and knowledge NFPA can provide and we are proud to work with them to realize that vision.”

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(Recounted by Casey Grant- Fire Protection Research Foundation Executive Director)

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On Friday evening (26/Feb) my wife Cathy and I attended the play “Inferno: Fire at the Cocoanut Grove 1942” at the Core Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts theatre complex. It was a great show and I was part of a post-show talk-back panel answering questions from the audience, along with former Boston Fire Department Commissioner Paul Christian and author Stephanie Schorow. Truly a unique experience!

 

Rich in content, the dialogue was fascinating and provided a realistic portrayal of this tragic disaster. It was a straight-forward production, and the solid cast provided a noteworthy representation of a wide span of colorful characters. Their monologues and multiple scenes effectively engaged the audience using a straight-forward set, centered primarily on the Grove’s nightclub atmosphere and related locations, before and after the fire.

 

Not only was the story accurate, but the post fire scenes stressed the significant advances that came from the tragedy. They gently but firmly emphasized that valuable lessons ultimately came about, and those who suffered did not do so in vain. The importance of the work of emergency responders and fire safety organizations like NFPA were mentioned more than once, as well as being prominently highlighted in the program.

 

For me, this was not just another show. Beyond the story itself, I felt like I was in a surreal reality, listening to voices and seeing the faces of people whose stories I had heard many times but could only imagine. Eerily, I’ve previously had conversations with some of the main characters in the play. These people survived and witnessed the fire but have since left this world, and seeing their characters again had a dreamlike quality.

 

Not long after I started at NFPA in 1988 I decided I wanted to write an article for NFPA Journal on something that was full of passion and non-technical. As I poked around on this thought, it became clear that touching on a historical event was a worthy and safe approach. But on what?

 

A little more digging, and I realized that a few years hence (i.e., 1992) would be the 50th anniversary of the famed Cocoanut Grove Fire, an incredible tragedy in the City of Boston that took 492 lives and left a deep scar on the fire safety landscape.

 

Published in the May/June 1991 edition of NFPA Journal as “The Last Dance at the Cocoanut Grove”, I constructed the story around the personal eyewitness testimony of survivors and participants. Locating these individuals prior to the 50th anniversary (in 1992) required significant investigative work. Today, all have now passed from this world to the next.

 

I allowed the story to be told by the following five participants in the event: Hewson Gray, a patron that survived with his wife Hilde; Daniel Weiss, a bartender in the Melody Lounge; Red Graney of the Boston Fire Department and on one of the first arriving units that stumbled on the fire while at a nearby car fire; Dr Francis Moore who was in charge of the emergency room at Mass General Hospital that fateful evening; and John Collins with the US Navy that responded with other military units. I interviewed each of them, and they told me their stories, and I simply packaged them together. In the play, three of these characters came back to life: Hewson Gray, Daniel Weiss, and Red Graney. Very, very strange indeed.

 

“Inferno: Fire at the Cocoanut Grove 1942” will have a six-week run, from February 24 to April 3. The Core Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts theatre complex is located at 539 Tremont Street, Boston. With a parking garage underneath the complex and plenty of great restaurants in the complex and nearby, it makes a great evening out.

 

The production was written and directed by James Hansen Prince, a Texas playwright-actor-director. His connection is a personal one, with a relative from his wife’s family lost in the disaster, and one of the play’s characters. This is considered the first theatrical production about the devastating nightclub blaze, and it’s intended as a tribute to never forget. Significant advances have been linked to this disaster, and this play allows us to reflect on the somber thought that those who died and those who suffered did not do so in vain.

 

I highly recommend it.

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You may not know when or if you will have a fire in your home, when or if a member of your family will be stricken with a medical emergency or when and if your community will face a terrorist or other life threatening calamity; but what you do know is that you expect the first responders in your area to be there, be well trained and be properly equipped to deal with the situation.

 

This seems to have been lost on the author of a recent Washington Post piece that posed the question that if we have fewer fires today, why are there more firefighters. The author simplistically thought the answer should be that we need fewer firefighters and they should be volunteers. Here are a few reasons why that is the wrong conclusion.

 

While the number of career firefighters has been increasing, the number per 1,000 people has been steady.

The number of career firefighters has increased has the population size as increased.  In contrast, the number of volunteer firefighters per 1,000 people has been decreasing since 1986. One reason we have more career firefighters today is that volunteers are harder to find and keep. Increased training requirements, unpredictability of when an alarm will sound, not living in community and today’s lifestyle make it harder to keep and retain volunteers. But both career and volunteer firefighters are essential to public safety.

 

It’s not just the number of fires that describe the problem, but the severity of the fires.

Consider a few examples. Human losses of fire in the United States are among the highest per capita in the industrial world. Climate change and other factors are having a tremendous impact on wildland urban interface fires. These fires are happening in more places, more often and causing more loss. In addition to vehicle fires, we are experiencing a new generation of transportation related fires, such as train derailments carrying large amounts of Balkan crude, a phenomenon that was a rare occurrence only a few years ago. Fires are still fatal. The death rate per 1,000 home fires has not substantially changed since 1977. Today we see about 3,000 people die in fires each year. Loss from fires is actually increasing. NFPA research shows that the loss per structure fire was 35% higher in 2013 than in 1977 (adjusted for inflation).

 

The reality is our nation’s first responders are our first line of defense and our offense in ordinary and extraordinary situations.

The author gives only a terse mention of firefighters being asked to do more than fight fires. The complexity and range of incidents that firefighters are being asked to respond to continues to increase including EMS, HazMat incidents and other public needs, requiring specialized training and expertise.

It was just a week or so ago that the nation recalled the horrific tragedy of 9/11. It was a solemn reminder of all those who lost their lives on that day and how it changed our expectations about what we now rely on our first responders for. The Post piece misses the point.

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If you are attending the 52nd ASHE Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition in Boston this month, be sure to visit with the NFPA staff who will be in attendance.  NFPA will be well represented at this year’s conference.  All events and sessions will be held at the John B. Hynes Memorial Convention Center on July 12-15.  Come by and visit with our marketing and product staff in the Exhibit Hall (Booth 123).  Swing by the ASHE Learning Lounge in Hall A on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to speak with NFPA staff engineers with your NFPA code questions.  And be sure to attend the Just Ask ASHE: Codes and Standards Forum on Wednesday morning.

ASHE has lined up a number of sessions that will cover everything from emergency power supply requirements, accreditation program challenges and findings, how the Affordable Care Act is impacting staff/patient interactions and a review of the Fire Protection Research Foundation study "Validation of the Fire Safety Evaluation System (FSES in the 2013 Edition of the NFPA 101A" and more. 

For anyone arriving early, the New England Healthcare Engineers Society (NEHES.ORG) is organizing a Community Service project on Saturday morning July 11th.  NEHES is the host chapter for this year’s conference. NEHES very own, and NFPA Technical Committee member Dave Dagenais is also the 2015 President of ASHE and will be front and center in Boston.       

With committee activity ramping up on NFPA 99 and NFPA 101 this summer, this is a good opportunity learn from your peers in the health care engineering world, hear about the latest innovations and challenges in the acute care environment and share your experiences and knowledge. 

About the ASHE Conference:  More than 3,000 professionals gather on-site each year to get vital information on health care compliance, codes and standards updates, emerging trends, and best practices for efficiency, sustainability, emergency preparedness, and other pressing topics in the field. Attend the ASHE Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition to connect with colleagues in the field and to "stay fit" in your role as a health care facility management professional. 

 

 

Some of the latest news stories covering recent fires in churches have quoted NFPA research. According to NFPA's 2013 report U.S. Structure Fires in Religious and Funeral Properties, local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 1,780 structure fires per year at churches, other places of worship or funeral parlors during the five-year period of 2007- 2011. Thirty percent of the fires in these properties were caused by cooking and another 16% by heating equipment.  Sixteen percent or 280 of the 1,780 structure fires per year at these properties were intentional.

NFPA’s Marty Ahrens says it is not surprising that cooking is the leading cause of fires in these properties, “Places of worship are often used for more than worship.  They are often centers of the community and a place where a lot of activity happens.”

She also said it’s important to remember that most fires in places of worship are small.  Three out of five reported fires in these properties were confined to the object of origin. 

According to news accounts, a possible cause of the latest church fire in South Carolina may have been lightning.

Additional resources can be found at NFPA’s online press room.

UPDATE - A little more than a year ago, I wrote a blog post when my youngest brother Tony was promoted to Captain of the Everett Fire Department in Everett, MA. All of what I wrote then still holds true today with one exception. This week I had the privilege of seeing him sworn in as Deputy Chief! Congratulations on moving up the “ladder” to you and your colleagues who also were sworn in to their new positions. Events such as this happen all across the country celebrating and recognizing those moving up the ranks in their respective fire departments.  The ceremonies are great reminders of the brave men and women who not only have chosen the fire service as their career but also are excelling at it.

 

 

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