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5 Posts authored by: ocaledonia Employee

NFPA has a new international development director advancing government responsibility, fire and life safety infrastructure, code compliance, emergency response strategies, public education, and trade skills development in approximately 20 Latin American countries. Beginning July 1, Jaime Gutiérrez will assess local safety concerns, cultivate strong alliances, implement new strategies with existing and new stakeholders, introduce safety programs in Spanish, and represent NFPA in regulatory, legislative and technical circles.

 

The Mexico City resident will build on the solid foundation built by well-known NFPA representative Antonio Macias who retired after 20 years of representing NFPA in the region.

 

NFPA has had a strong presence in Latin America for more than 40 years and continues to extend its reach as a global fire and life safety leader. Given his more than two decades of working in national planning, real estate administration, and resource management for private businesses and the government, Gutiérrez is well-suited to further NFPA’s mission of eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards in Latin American countries.

 

Gutiérrez has organized global goodwill programs; supervised fire safety policies; managed hundreds of government properties in different countries; lead construction strategy, including security and protection programs, for nearly 30 hospitals and health clinics (as well as the administration of a hospital network of more than 1347 properties); interacted with a wide range of constituents for the Attorney General’s office; advised the CEO of Bancomext on the internationalization of Mexican companies; and oversaw construction cost management for the World Trade Center Mexico City Exhibition Center, as well as the remodeling of the Marriott Airport and Marriott Polanco hotels. His last position in government was as Prospera's National Coordinator, one of the most successful and globally recognized programs in the fight against poverty, where he managed and implemented civil protection measures for beneficiaries.


“Jaime Gutiérrez has the skill set, qualifications and demeanor to collaborate with a broad range of professionals and navigate the ever-changing political, social and business conditions of Latin America,” said Jim Pauley, NFPA president and CEO. “NFPA has worked hard to solidify safety in Latin America through proactive, collaborative safety-focused outreach, initiatives and training. Jaime will build on that history and drive home the point that safety is a system that we all play a role in - as outlined by the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem.”

 

The NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem is a framework that identifies the components that must work together to minimize risk. There are eight interdependent components; when they work together, the Ecosystem protects everyone. If any component is missing or broken, the Ecosystem can collapse, often resulting in tragedy. Almost always we can trace the cause of injurious life safety incidents and tragedies back to the breakdown of one or more components of the Ecosystem.

 

Gutiérrez holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), a bachelor’s degree in political science from Political and Social Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and a master’s degree in public management from Guanajuato University.

 

This blog is also available in Spanish.

During this difficult time, as the world witnesses the relentless spread of COVID-19, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released several new resources to help stakeholders with life safety efforts. Two documents, in particular, an Emergency Preparedness Checklist based on NFPA 1600 and a new bulletin that highlights information within NFPA 1600, NFPA 1581, Standard on Fire Department Infection Control ProgramNFPA 1999, Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Emergency Medical Operations, and guidance from both the World Health Organization and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be used by first responders during this pandemic. Both documents have been translated into Arabic, the main language in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a region that consists of 22 countries and makes up 5% of the world’s population. The latter of the two documents was prepared in collaboration with the Saudi Patient Safety Center.

 

 

In the days since this guidance was released, feedback from fire officials and Civil Defense authorities has been overwhelming. The documents began to go viral via various fire service social media channels; and resulted in great comments and sharing. The overall sentiment? The timely creation of important guidance, translated to the language of choice in the MENA region, during an unprecedented time in history shows that NFPA, is invested in cultivating strong alliances throughout the GCC states (the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf). While it continues to hold true that there is enormous variation in the economic, demographic, and technological levels in MENA countries, each of the countries in the region share an unfortunate lack of knowledge about fire and life safety codes, compliance, and enforcement. NFPA is committed, and our Global team is driven, to fill this awareness gap, and provide authorities throughout the MENA territories with the information and knowledge that will help protect people and property from harm.

 

Utilizing these two translated documents will go a long way in keeping communities and first responders safe during COVID-19 and ordinary times. In recent weeks, NFPA has provided a wide range of resources in English that support fully operational fire and life safety systems as required by applicable codes and standards, while balancing the realities of the current pandemic. Our goal is to support you and your work with useful resources and communications during this difficult time. How are we doing? How else can we help? Take our short survey and tell us what you think.

What started as a regular business day in Mexico City, enjoying breakfast with colleagues and gearing up for meetings, was soon followed (to my surprise) by an annual safety drill as the country remembered the devastating September 19, 1985 earthquake that killed approximately 9,500. 

 

I was fortunate to be part of yesterday's disaster preparedness evacuation drill at the Marriott Reforma, located along Paseo de la Reforma. This is one of the most important avenues in Mexico City, home to some of the tallest buildings and the country’s most historical monuments. The Marriott personnel took the drill very seriously. It was an impressive process. I witnessed professionalism, organization and collaboration all around me. They had a gathering place identified by different signage. Employees were assigned to ask guests who they were, and another staff member updated the crowd with a loudspeaker. Civil Protection representatives, firefighters and paramedics were on the premises.

 

After the drill, I headed to the World Trade Center to attend the International Fire Protection Forum organized by the Mexican Association of Automatic Sprinklers. As the meeting got underway, the safety maneuvers we learned just a few short hours before quickly became a necessity as the southern section of Mexico City was rocked by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

 

The “shake” was incredible. People started evacuating at a quick pace, but it’s important to note that everything was done in an orderly fashion.  Our group was located on the second floor of the convention center. We filed down two sets of stairs to the designated gathering spot in front of the building, and waited to learn how the city was affected and next steps.  Cell communications were down for at least 45 minutes.  You could see the anguish on the faces of people as they tried to locate their loved ones. Close by, there were gas leaks, road closures, and shattered glass from doors and windows. 

 

I have never been in an earthquake before. Admittedly, I

was shaken by the experience, but I can’t help but point out the work that Mexico City has done to educate the public in the aftermath of the 1985 quake. From what I experienced early in the day during the drill and what I witnessed during the real deal, Mexico’s commitment to educating citizens on how to respond in natural disasters is working. The ongoing efforts of the country to practice safety measures showed in the way that people calmly handled themselves and comforted each other.

 

Back at the hotel, I was safe but sad to see the many images being shown by media outlets. It was heartbreaking to learn that so many lost their lives and that the region experienced extensive damage to infrastructures and property. The city was so quiet last night, which is not typical at Paseo Reforma.  Sirens sounded, but it was as if the city and its people were mourning the loss from yesterday’s quake, as well as recalling heartbreaking memories from 1985.

 

As we so often do, NFPA will work with Mexican authorities to see what kind of resources and expertise we can offer as they rebuild this world-class city, once again.

fireworks market explosion in Tultepec, Mexico

image courtesy of CNN.com

 

An explosion at a popular fireworks market in Tultepec, Mexico, yesterday resulted in at least 29 civilian deaths and 72 injuries, according to the latest news reports; some people are still unaccounted for. The explosion ripped through San Pablito market, which is a densely populated area known for fireworks sales. The market was especially busy as people purchased fireworks for the holidays.

The cause of the explosion, which sent a series of huge plumes of smoke into the sky, has not yet been determined. However, this incident highlights the deadly potential fireworks carry.

Antonio Macias, our Latin America representative, is based in Mexico City, which is 25 miles south of Tultepec. He is following up with local authorities on how NFPA can support their efforts in the aftermath of this tragedy.

NFPA’s fireworks codes only address professional use of fireworks. NFPA 1123, Code for Fireworks Display, contains information on how to set up and operate professional outdoor fireworks displays. NFPA 1124, Code for the Manufacture, Transportation and Storage of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles, establishes fire and life safety requirements for the manufacture, transportation, and storage of fireworks, pyrotechnic articles, and any components containing pyrotechnic or explosive compositions. It does not apply to the retail sales, associated storage or the use of consumer fireworks by the general public.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Guadalupe Pardo

A fire that occurred at a movie theater in a popular seaside mall in Lima, Perú, on Wednesday appears to have been caused by a short circuit. The theater’s walls, which were reportedly made of highly flammable materials, enabled the fire to spread rapidly. At least four people died in the incident.

Coincidentally, this tragic fire happened while Maria Figueroa, an NFPA instructor, was conducting a training on NFPA 1, Fire Code and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® for authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) in Lima this week, reinforcing NFPA´s collaborative fire safety efforts with authorities in Perú.

Many Latin American countries adopt or reference NFPA codes and standards – this serves as the first step toward stronger fire safety levels. However, this week’s theatre fire in Lima reflects the critical importance of jurisdictions enforcing codes and standards to truly reduce the risk and impact of fire on Latin American communities.

Many of NFPA’s codes and standards are available in Spanish and we also offer training throughout the region. Antonio Macías, based in México city, is NFPA’s director for Latin American programs and will be following up with authorities and our members in Lima.

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