NFPA’s EFFECT (Exterior Façade Fire Evaluation and Comparison Tool) has won an Innovation Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). The world’s premiere authority on skyscrapers honors best in class tall buildings, urban contributions, technologies, and innovations that have emerged during the calendar year and impressed high-rise developers, designers, occupiers, operators and engineers.
EFFECT was created in response to fires occurring in tall buildings with combustible exterior wall assemblies around the globe. NFPA first worked with Arup to develop a risk assessment methodology that takes into account the building envelope; potential ignition sources; structure characteristics; and existing fire safety measures such as means of warning, containment, and extinguishment. Then it was time to build a comprehensive tool that would help building owners, facility managers and AHJs proactively assess risk in high-rise building inventory with exterior cladding. Since its release in February, various authorities, consultants and building owners have successfully used EFFECT to prioritize high-rise fire safety mitigation efforts and remediation work.
NFPA’s risk assessment tool is free to access and employs a two-tiered review process:
“This year’s Award of Excellence Winners communicate the diversity of interdisciplinary thought and innovation that will characterize both current and future generations of urban development around the world,” said Best Tall Building Jury Chair Karl Fender, Director at Fender Katsalidis Architects. NFPA’s EFFECT and other forward-thinking projects will now move on to the next stage of the CTBUH Awards Program in Shenzhen, China and vie for “Best in Category” distinctions in April 2019.
Every year I am amazed as how early in the season I see Christmas decorations for sale. This year I saw several locations displaying Christmas trees for sale as early as November 15. Like consumers, fire inspectors are also facing holiday issues long before the actual holiday date, sometimes months in advance. Retail stores, restaurants, and businesses are all jumping on board the holiday season earlier and earlier each year it seems. This requires diligence in ensuring that egress paths are maintained, proper protection is provided for storage and display of merchandise, cooking equipment is being properly cleaned and maintained, cooking is done safely in residences, and fire protection systems are all in good working condition.
Between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires. On average, one out of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 reported home fires. (See NFPA’s report “Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees”, issued in November 2017)
NFPA 1 addresses both artificial trees and natural cut trees in all occupancies under Section 10.13 for Combustible Vegetation. Natural Christmas trees, by their nature, are initially fire retardant. The problem arises when they have been cut and packaged without access to water for extended periods of time. The fire danger of Christmas trees and similar vegetation increases when the bottom end of the tree is not freshly cut and immediately placed in water when purchased. Other concerns include the length of time Christmas trees are on display (as noted above, retail stores often set up outdoor displays of natural trees for purchase before Thanksgiving.)
The species of tree and the rate of moisture loss are important factors in determining the extent of moisture loss. Of the various types of evergreen trees available, the Noble fir retains its moisture longer than other species. The best preventive measures include using a freshly harvested tree, cutting the butt or bottom end immediately before placing it in water, and checking the water level frequently to ensure that the tree water container is filled. The person responsible for the display should check the tree periodically. When needles shed easily, the tree should be removed or replaced, since trees dry from the inside out.
Artificial Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes. They even come pre-lit. In September 2016, UL published a white paper about reducing the fire risk of pre-lit trees. This publication addresses the research that led to the development of performance testing criteria for pre-lit artificial trees. It is a valuable resource for consumers and code officials when evaluating the safety of these type of holiday trees. With regards to artificial vegetation, the Code is concerned with its fire retardance (heat release rate or other fire performance criteria) which should be displayed on a label or identification from the manufacturer, ignition sources, and electrical components.
The requirements for artificial and natural cut Christmas trees in NFPA 1 are summarized as follows:
In addition to the Code requirements, NFPA also provides a valuable resource page dedicated to Christmas tree and decoration fires.
Have you had any trouble enforcing provisions for Christmas trees? What challenges do you face with Code enforcement during the holiday season?
Thank for reading, stay safe!
Please visit www.nfpa.org/1 to view the free access version of NFPA 1 2018 edition and nfpa.org/doc## to view other standards referenced in this post. Follow along on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. Looking for an older #FireCodefridays blog? You can view past posts here.
Side-by-side Christmas tree burn conducted by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission demonstrates how quickly a dried out tree burns vs. a well-hydrated one, underscoring the importance of watering Christmas trees daily.
Festive meals, flickering lights and holiday decorations: they're all hallmarks of the holiday season. Unfortunately, Christmas trees, candles, electrical decorations, and cooking all contribute to an increased number of home fires in December, making it a leading month for U.S. home fires. Here are some statistics that underscore these risks.
Christmas trees: Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be deadly than most other fires. One of every 45 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death, compared to an annual average of one death per 139 reported home fires.
Candles: December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In 2016, the top three days for candle fires were Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve. More than half (56 percent) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (31 percent) the remainder of the year.
Holiday decorations: Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 800 home fires per year that began with decorations (excluding Christmas trees). These fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 34 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct property damage. One-fifth (19 percent) of these home decoration fires occurred in December. One-fifth (21 percent) of decoration fires started in the kitchen; 15 percent started in the living room, family room or den.
Holiday cooking: While cooking fires are the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries year-round, Christmas Day ranked as the second-leading day for home cooking fires in 2016 (behind Thanksgiving Day.) On Christmas Day in 2016, there was a 73 percent increase in the number of home cooking fires as compared to an average day.
Don't let these numbers put you in a bah humbug spirit! The vast majority of these fires can be prevented by taking some basic safety precautions. Check out our holiday fire safety tips and information for keeping fire-safe this holiday season; we encourage fire departments to use these materials as they work to promote holiday fire safety in their communities.
By its own rules, every code and standard that NFPA develops must have a diverse committee comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, representing various groups with often divergent viewpoints. Even by these standards, the group that crafted of NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Facilities Code, was a hodgepodge rife with conflict.
In how many other circumstances would you see leaders of animal rights groups trying to find common ground with livestock industry executives? How often would fire marshals at zoos work alongside medical researchers, or stable managers, or swine farmers?
“This was probably one of the most interesting and complex exercises I’ve ever had as a staff liaison working on a document,” Tracy Vecchiarelli, an NFPA fire protection engineer and staff liaison for the code, told me.
NFPA 150 is the first comprehensive code out there dealing with all of the various types of facilities that house animals, from farms, to labs, to zoos, fairs, shelters, kennels, aquariums, and more. How it came to be is a fascinating story involving a bitter fight over fire sprinklers, a contentious letter-writing campaign, field trips, swine farms, and even a few tears.
To learn a lot more about the code, why it was necessary, and facts about how and why animals perish from fire, check out my cover story in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal “Critter Life Safety Code.” To get the inside scoop on the development of the code (which is a great tale all by itself) please read the sidebar to the main piece, called “Tension and Uncertainty.”
All of that, and a whole lot more is currently in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.
NFPA 2400®, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations has been released to help public safety officials integrate drones into their emergency response.
The new body of knowledge supports police, fire and EMS authorities as they put forth sUAS programs that are based on industry standards; and connects with groundbreaking UAS integration advancements identified in Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Aeronautics and Space.
Whether you are applying for Part 107, “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems” Waivers or taking the path of Part 91, “General Operating & Flight Rules” with a Public Operator Status & Certification of Authorization (COA), the FAA will have questions. As a public safety official or an emergency responder in the field, how are you going to demonstrate a truly integrated sUAS program? How are you going to show that you have considered a variety of fly operations? How will you demonstrate that you have considered the associated risks to you and the public, and most importantly your methods to lessen or mitigate those risks?
That’s where NFPA 2400 comes in - the first public safety-centric, ANSI-accredited standard to support your wholesale integration of sUAS. In short, NFPA 2400 will help public safety leaders meet FAA expectations and effectively deploy sUAS programs.
Developed by dozens of representatives from NIST, the fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services, manufacturing, transportation, aviation, and consultant organizations, NFPA 2400 is a clear, concise, all-encompassing standard that addresses everything from program criteria to Con-Op to training, and so much more. It applies to all public safety departments that operate sUAS, and breaks down SUAS program into three key areas:
The consensus process for NFPA 2400 was fairly quick. Over the course of 27 months, a request for the standard was submitted; a Technical Committee was established; public input and comments were sought and received; the Standards Council approved the standard; ANSI accredited NFPA 2400; and the new roadmap on sUAS was released on November 25, 2018 to help authorities establish safe, swift emergency response protocol from up above.
To learn more about NFPA’s new public safety drone standard, visit www.nfpa.org/2400.
We are now accepting nominations for the 2019 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal, which recognizes outstanding advocacy efforts aimed at reducing losses associated with fire, electrical, or other hazards.
The advocacy medal honors an individual or group that shares the values of former NFPA President James Shannon. During his 12-year tenure as president, Shannon had an exceptional record of advocacy efforts tied to life safety issues. Under his leadership, NFPA considerably advanced its mission of fire safety, most notably by spearheading the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes and advocating for fire sprinklers in all new homes.
Nominees should also be involved in advocacy efforts that advance NFPA’s mission, take into account cost-effectiveness, and involve collaboration with NFPA and other organizations. Previous medal recipients include Jim Dalton, whose efforts supporting a career-long commitment to fire safety led to the passage of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. Legislator Ann Jones received the medal in 2017 following her efforts leading to a nationwide requirement for home fire sprinklers in Wales.
Nominations are open to members of the fire service or any other person or group whose advocacy efforts meet the award’s criteria. The medal recipient will be honored at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in San Antonio, Texas, in June 2019. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging.
NFPA members have the unique opportunity to apply their professional expertise to improving fire and life safety by participating in the NFPA’s annual Technical Meeting. The Technical Meeting gives members the chance to comment and vote on possible codes and standards changes on a variety of the key safety issues you grapple with every day. Member input on these potential revisions helps ensure the codes and standards reflect the realities of today’s fire and life safety challenges, and help us all stay safer.
Join NFPA today to make sure your voice is heard at the Technical Meeting on June 20, 2019 at NFPA’s Conference and Expo in San Antonio. Voting privileges begin after 180 days of membership. The deadline to join is December 22, 2018.
As an NFPA member, you will be eligible to vote on NFPA Standards in the Annual 2019 revision cycle. Some of the Standards that could receive a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion and presented for action at the 2019 Technical Meeting include:
Your NFPA membership provides you year-round benefits—from expert support for your codes/standards questions to exclusive access to Member Sections with your peers. Voting at the Technical Meeting is not only a benefit to you—your input can help us all stay safer.