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This is KB1JOY. Welcome back for another installment of our Throwback Thursday blog!

As part of our National Electrical Safety Month coverage, the NFPA Research Library & Archives thought we would share a piece from the archives relating to Amateur Radio and introduce some of our readers to a popular hobby at the same time.

Amateur Radio enjoys a long and rich history. Over the years, Amateur Radio enthusiasts (or Hams) have made a number of significant contributions to their local communities and to the sciences. Today Amateur Radio (ham radio) is still a popular hobby that allows people to experiment with electronics and communications in a fun way.

“Although Amateur Radio operators get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by ham radio operators.”

We hope you enjoy the following story and image!

73.

KB1JOY.

ARRL_Home Radio_1922

From The NFPA Quarterly v.16, no.2, 1922:

The radio signaling apparatus in the home of Mr. Hiram Percy Maxim, Hartford, Conn. Mr. Maxim is president of the American Radio Relay League. Most amateur experimenters locate their station in their home, and inasmuch as they are unable to change the surroundings they must, to a certain extent at least, take things as they are. A careful study of the conditions will, however, often enable one to overcome and seeming handicap which may exist. This is just what Mr. Maxim has done. As a result, he has an efficient equipment without some of the unfortunate hazards which surround other amateur stations. Mr. Maxim made frequent grounds inside and outside of his home. He made at least twenty driven pipe grounds, running the ground conductor from the pipes to a water pipe outside of the foundation wall. Inside of the house, Mr. Maxim connected, electrically, all soil, gas, heating and other metal conductors by means of a copper bonding wire, and connecting this bonding wire to a water pipe, thus providing means for “draining” any static accumulation within his home.

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

 

 

 

The 2019 technical meeting at the NFPA Conference & Expo is just around the corner, on June 20, and chief among the documents slated for review is the 2020 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®). As NFPA Senior Electrical Content Specialist Derek Vigstol discusses in a video posted on NFPA's YouTube channel this week, a number of significant changes and reorganizations to the code are on tap for the coming year. 

 

One of the major proposed changes, for example, relates to GFCI protection. "One of the examples they gave at the first draft meeting, which was talked about extensively at the second draft meeting, was around a death that occurred from somebody who was electrocuted when making contact with the frame of a range in a kitchen," Vigstol says in the video. "So that led to the [proposed] expansion of GFCI protection to include 250-volt range receptacle outlets ... if it's within six feet of a sink."

 

Vigstol wrote about this and other proposed changes for the 2020 NEC in an article titled "Power Aid," which appears in the May/June 2019 issue of NFPA Journal. Read the full story online at nfpa.org/poweraid

An unsprinklered room reaches flashover in less than two minutes.

 

If you have a fire in your home today you are more likely to die than you were in 1980. Home fire sprinklers can significantly cut fire risks and are the most critical technology available to stop a home fire from becoming deadly.

 

In recognition of Home Fire Sprinkler Week (May 19 – May 25), fire leaders, life safety professionals, and media gathered at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, MA to witness a powerful side-by-side live burn and fire sprinkler demonstration hosted by the Fire Sprinkler Initiative®, a project of NFPA® and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition® (HFSC). Seeing is believing. And so is smelling, feeling and hearing.

 

The first part of today’s demo illustrated how quickly fire ravages a room and its contents, while the second part showed the quick, lifesaving benefits of home fire sprinklers. The differences were stark.

 

During the burn the smoke alarm sounded six seconds after flames appeared. By one minute and fifty five seconds the room was fully engulfed. Quincy firefighters quickly extinguished the fire. In the sprinklered room, the story began in much the same way with the smoke alarm activating at the same time, but at 10 seconds the fire sprinkler began to douse the fire. Attendees witnessed two identical rooms with identical contents set on fire with very different outcomes.

Less than two minutes to escape a home is vastly different from the 15 minutes that people had to get out of a burning home back in 1980. In the past, rooms featured older style construction and furnishings that consisted of solid, larger dimension lumber that withstood fire longer than the unprotected lightweight manufactured materials present in homes now. Today’s lightweight construction and modern upholstered furniture burn faster and release twice as much heat compared to “ordinary” combustibles like wood, paper, wool and linen. Larger open spaces in residences are also exacerbating fires because flames have more opportunity to breathe and spread quickly.

 

Quincy firefighter demonstrates all is good, thanks to sprinklers, just 10 seconds after fire started.

 

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,319,500 fires in 2017 which caused 3,400 civilian deaths. Roughly 80 percent of these fires occurred in the home - the very place people feel most safe. When sprinklers were present, the likelihood of dying in a home fire decreased by about 85 percent, and 97 percent of the time the fires were kept to the room of origin.

 

Sprinkler technology does not come at an exorbitant cost; installation in new construction runs, on average, $1.35 per sprinklered square foot. Yet, well-funded interest groups continue to generate misleading information to the public and home buyers. Given more than 100 years of sprinkler success, it is concerning that this technology is not in every occupancy being built today. We know better.

 

“We’re still facing obstacles for the installation of sprinklers in homes.” Dr. Denis Onieal, Assistant United States Fire Administrator said. “One of the reasons we are having Home Fire Sprinkler Week is to overcome those obstacles with education and information.”

 

“We know that sprinkler technology is our best bet for knocking down fire quickly. It is our best bet for reducing harm to people, property and first responders,” NFPA President Jim Pauley said. “We must mobilize and debunk the misleading information that some well-funded interest groups share about sprinkler technology.”

 

Massachusetts Deputy State Fire Marshal Maribel Fournier asked the crowd to help foster informed discussions, “We can change the future face of fire and turn devastating fires into ho-hum events that don’t make the nightly news, if we build more homes with fire sprinklers. Ask for them when building a new home.”

Photo by Tom Rumble on Unsplash

This week is the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative's (FSI) Home Fire Sprinkler Week. So it's a good time to highlight the requirements in NFPA 101 pertaining to the protection of one- and two-family dwellings, and the importance of these requirements.

According to data published by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, fires in one- and two-family homes account for nearly half of all report fires in the United States. Between the years 2012 and 2016, more than 2,000 people were killed annually in fires in one- or two-family homes, accounting for nearly 80 percent of fire deaths in the United States during this time period.

Chapter 24 of NFPA 101 provides requirements for the design and protection of one- and two-family dwelling. Specifically, I will be focusing on fire sprinklers and smoke detection.

The Code requires all new one- and two-family homes to be sprinklered with an NFPA 13, NFPA 13D, or NFPA 13R system. According to FSI, fires are contained within the room of origin in 97 percent of fires in homes with sprinklers, and having a sprinkler system in a home reduces the risk of death by about 80 percent, compared to homes without fire sprinkler systems. The city of Scottsdale, Arizona adopted an ordinance requiring all new homes to be provided with sprinklers in 1986. During the first fifteen years that the ordinance was adopted there was not a single fatality in a sprinklered home.

In a January 2019 report published by the Foundation, it was found that in more than half of fatal home fires smoke alarms were either not present or failed to operate, and the presence of working smoke alarms in a home reduces the likelihood of death in a home fire by nearly 50 percent. Therefore, the presence of working smoke alarms in homes is an important factor to reducing home fire deaths.

NFPA 101 requires all new and existing homes to be provided with smoke alarms or smoke detection. Although the use of a fire alarm system with smoke detection is permitted, most home are provided with either single-station or multiple-station smoke alarms. All new homes are required to be provided with interconnected multiple-station smoke alarms, which will sound throughout the entire home upon activation of a single smoke alarm. The use of existing battery-operated single station smoke alarms is only permitted in existing homes. The Code requires the installation of both single-station and multiple-station smoke alarms to comply with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

The use of synthetic materials in home construction and home furnishing, in combination with construction trends, including larger areas and open floor plans, have resulted in significantly reduced safe egress time from homes. Working smoke detection and fire sprinklers have been proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of death in fires in homes.

To learn more about the Home Fire Sprinkler Week, including access to public videos, data sheets, and infographics, visit the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative website.

 

Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”

You are reading this blog so you must be concerned with electrical safety in the workplace. Did you submit a public input to NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® last year? Have you gone to the NFPA 70E website to see what happened to that public input? The public comment closing date has passed. Whether your public input resulted in a first revision or was not included in the standard, has anyone in the world submitted a public comment to re-address your input at the second draft meeting? Soon you will be able to see what the public had to say about the public inputs and the proposed changes that occurred during the first draft stage. 

There are 115 public comments submitted that will be addressed at the second draft meeting. A quick review of the distribution of submitted comments shows that Section 120.5 has received the most comments. Every comment will be addressed at the second draft meeting. NFPA meetings are open to the public which means you are invited whether or not you submitted a public input or public comment. The public is invited to Indianapolis, Indiana on July 16th-19th, 2019 to witness what happens at thesecond draft meeting. I look forward to seeing you in Indy.

For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on XchangeNext time: Operation of a light switch and the need for personal protective equipment.

 

Want to keep track of what is happening with the National Electrical Code® (NEC®)? Subscribe to the NEC Connect newsletter to stay informed of new content. The newsletter also includes NFPA 70E information such as my blogs.

Please Note: Any comments, suggested text changes, or technical issues related to NFPA Standards posted or raised in this communication are not submissions to the NFPA standards development process and therefore will not be considered by the technical committee(s) responsible for NFPA Standards development.  To learn how to participate in the NFPA standards development process and submit proposed text for consideration by the responsible technical committee(s), please go to www.nfpa.org/submitpi for instructions.

Over the last couple of years, NFPA has been working on the best way to deliver a new kind of NPFA 70E® training. Training that doesn’t just tell you what is in the book but rather, training that gives attendees a first-hand look at what it's like to develop an electrical safety program. To this end, NFPA’s Developing an Electrical Safety Program Based on NFPA 70E® gives participants practice writing a program based on a fictional facility, Belstol University. It includes such ideas as, building the electrical safety committee out to see just who you want to have on that team and why; stepping through what principles your program must be based on and how you will measure up against them to ensure your program is working; and building out a procedure, performing a risk assessment and how to make a program successful. After all, you can have the best program around but if your employees don’t or won’t get behind the plan, it is doomed from the beginning.

First, a little about this class. It was developed out of a need expressed by facility managers groups, in particular, folks in the higher education realm. But this doesn’t mean the workshop is just for them. Hospital building operations staff have also been a big part of the attendees in this class because this is a 24/7/365 kind of job, as well as the facility management crowd.

So you may be asking … how do I write a program when I’m not intimately knowledgeable about the facility I’m building the program for? Well, there is some background info at the beginning of the day, and there is plenty of materials in the participant workbook, but to be honest, not a single person in the room has set foot on "this" college campus. At the same time, because we are NFPA and not a consultant in the world of building electrical safety programs, NFPA will not tell you what your program needs to look like for your facility. So the workshop is intended to play in the world of a fictional facility where questions needed to be answered in order to go through the full process of developing an actual electrical safety program for Belstol University.

electrical safety

Here’s what we came up with. For one, the activities still represent the process that it takes to develop a program in your own facility, and they help the attendees understand all the pieces that need to go into a program. The attendees also get practice in what it takes to come up with the principles, procedures, and the controls that a program is built on. But the activities are where the difference lies. We’ve structured the workshop in a way that challenges participants to think differently. Starting with the existing program, we want participants to see how a program can have holes in it and then understand why not having key components can lead to issues down the road. We are challenging attendees to build out their own idea(s) of what must be included in a program and to get in the habit of asking questions like: Why is this idea important; what does the idea bring to the table when we think of an electrical safety program; is the idea critical to the success of the program?

In a recent workshop, we challenged the group to think this way and the ensuing conversation was great. A comment was made during an activity on justifying energized work that replacing a ballast in a row of end-to-end fluorescent luminaires is justified because turning off the lights would impede the illumination requirement for a means of egress. Is it? We asked why. Why we are willing to expose an employee to such an electrical hazard? Is there a better way to do this? This one hit home particularly hard with me as I lost a friend last year to this very issue. We asked "what would you do if you lost power and the lights were out?" How do you maintain the egress lighting when that happens? The answer was: "Easy! That is what the backup emergency lights are for." They were okay with the “frog eyes” on the wall providing egress illumination when the power goes down, but when it’s a maintenance task we need to subject an employee to possible death to keep the lights on? There had to be a better way.

Needless to say, we came around on this one. It started a bigger discussion about how when you are performing energized work or writing a process for determining justification for energized work, we should start by thinking about what the backup plan is. What happens during an unplanned shutdown? What would you do with the patients in ICU if the power went down and the generator didn’t start? What would you do if the worker makes a mistake during justified energized work and causes an arc flash that destroys the electrical distribution to the ICU? Everyone thought they knew exactly what they would do in that situation. Protect the patient, get them to another wing, maybe another hospital, set up a temp ICU prior to starting work just in case you need to move them. All great ideas, but we asked ourselves, why can’t we move the patients first, so the work can be performed de-energized? Why isn’t this written into the safety plan? Hmmm, it kind of makes you think about some things, doesn’t it?

After the workshop was over, one of the attendees sent me an email who said he liked how the workshop had challenged a new way of thinking. This individual came into the workshop hoping to learn how to put some “meat on the bones” of their existing program, but afterward he realized, there was still work to be done to the "bones" of their program.

And this is what this workshop is meant to do, that is what we set out to accomplish with this program. Getting people to think, getting people to ask themselves the difficult questions and not take the easy way around the safest answer. Participants should walk away with questions, and while it seems counterintuitive to walk away feeling as though you just went on an incomplete journey, we want attendees to go back to their own facility and write the ending themselves. They need to finish the story using their own buildings, using their own electrical safety team, and using their own ESP. That is how we change the way an electrical safety program gets developed with one simple eight-hour workshop. That is how we change the world: one program at a time.

The next workshop is scheduled as a pre-conference educational event at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in San Antonio, TX on June 15th. There is limited seating in this one due to the workshop style of instruction. So if this type of workshop interests you, please check out our webpage for additional information and register before it fills up. This workshop works well for building operations and facility management folks as well as electrical construction contractors.

I can’t wait for you all to experience this new type of training from NFPA and we look forward to bringing you more options along these same lines. Until next time, stay safe and remember, it is National Electrical Safety Month, spread the word that it pays to be safe!

President Trump has declared the week of May 19-25, 2019 National EMS Week.  The theme for this year’s week is “EMS Strong: Beyond the Call.” Those words convey an incredibly powerful message about the EMS profession. EMS goes beyond the 911 call. Yes, EMS is about excellent patient care in an emergency, but it’s also so much more. It’s something that takes time, skill, practice, passion, and compassion far beyond the scope of a normal job. It’s a responsibility to care for your community and for your fellow responders that doesn’t end when your shift is over.  Every day they provide highly skilled medical care, but they do more, they are a social worker, a problem solver, a liaison to their community, and sometimes most importantly, the shoulder we cry on in our worst moments.   This year we are recognizing the continuously expanding breadth and scope of what they are providing and their importance as a valuable and equal responder group stakeholder.

Over the past 8 years, in concert with the changing face of healthcare, EMS has become an even more critical cog in the healthcare infrastructure of our communities.  Regardless of service type (fire based, third service, private, hospital based, non-profit, etc.) EMS is presently the #2 (law enforcement is #1) reason for 911 activation in the United States.  Today EMS providers are also part of specialized units like SWAT, technical rescue, and hazardous materials teams.  As a nation, we are currently in the process of growing and incorporating our EMS provider’s roles in public health and community based manner. This involves using EMS to divert people from needing to use medical facilities and providing medical care in a more streamlined fashion at the home.  These services will reduce the strain that growing numbers of hospitalizations are creating in our healthcare systems.  This may significantly reduce cost and wait times for services as EMS will assist in the maintenance of the patient care, not just in the acute and transport realms. EMS has always been considered the eyes and ears of the Physician, even the term paramedic means “next to the Physician” when you use the Latin routes of the word.  These community based healthcare programs or community paramedic programs, as they are commonly known, move EMS into the realm of other functions and Physician’s eyes and ears outside of the emergency world.  In 2019 we will release NFPA 451; Guide for Community Health Care Programs.  This document will help EMS Systems regardless of their service type with expanding their roles in the overall Health Care community.  States and authorities having jurisdiction, may also find the guide useful in the creation of scope of practice models and new regulations

In just the past two years the NFPA has focused on providing more informed support and service to our responder stakeholders as a whole.  Although many in law enforcement, 911 centers, and EMS aren’t necessarily as familiar with our efforts as the fire service is, the NFPA strives to make all responder’s safer and unified and has done so for many years.  In just the last two we’ve increased our non-fire based EMS participation in technical committees by a factor of 10.  In 2018 we released two new groundbreaking standards with the participation of the entire EMS community.  Those were NFPA 2400; Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations and NFPA 3000tm; Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program.

For EMS week 2019, The NFPA will post links to our different tools and resources, these provide information and knowledge that will help our EMS systems and providers.  Each day of EMS has a theme and below are each day’s theme and resources the NFPA provides that fit that theme:

MondayEMS Education Day Check out our free Alternative Vehicle Safety Training for EMS Personnel and use your 30% discount for the NFPA 3000tm Active Shooter Hostile Event Response Program, Plan, Respond, Recover badging program!

Tuesday - EMS Safety Day – Create a free account and view safety standards that can help keep you safe in your job every day like NFPA 1999, NFPA 1500, and NFPA 3000tm

Wednesday - EMS for Children day – A little known fact is that the facility design and safety requirements for acute care pediatric centers are found in NFPA 99, create a free account and check it out today!

Thursday - Save-A-Life Day (CPR & Stop the Bleed) – Our nation’s fire and EMS responders are key cogs in helping educate our communities.  The NFPA supports these critical efforts in our community healthcare and community risk reduction standards and guides. Separately, with the recommendations in  NFPA 3000tm, we are seeing more and more communities teach “Stop the Bleed” and have seen bleeding control kits spreading into the emergency planning for occupancies such as schools and airports (the picture I sent is from Nashville airport).

FridayEMS Recognition Day – Today we celebrate you! Our nations EMS Providers no matter your method of service (volunteer, private, fire based, etc.) we thank you for what you do for our communities and each other every day.  The NFPA also appreciates the efforts you make to improve and increase standards, your participation on technical committees, and you inputs and comments, are what drives our standards development process. (I recommend using the group pic with me in it)

Thank you for all that you do for our communities and for each other.  The efforts of our EMS responders, in my opinion, are the backbone of what make our communities strong.  The continued growth of the EMS role, the collaboration with other responder partners and Health Care community, and working with us at the NFPA to develop standards in order to support the profession is how we at the NFPA believe we support making EMS strong and we are stronger together at the call and beyond the call.

 

 

On May 12, Atlanta firefighter Sgt. Darrow Harden lost one leg and had his other mangled when he was struck by a vehicle stepping out of his fire truck to assist at a roadside crash. The accident, which happened along Interstate 85 in Atlanta, occurred when the driver of the Pontiac G5 lost control of the vehicle and it barreled into Harden and the fire truck, the fire department said in a statement.

 

Accidents like this are not uncommon. Just two months prior, an off-duty Colorado firefighter was sent to the hospital with serious injuries after he was hit by a car responding to a roadside incident on Interstate 70.

 

While responder roadside injuries and fatalities have long been an issue, these incidents seem to be more common than ever as drivers become increasingly distracted by their electronic devices, John Montes writes in his Responder Column in the May/June NFPA Journal. At least 10 firefighters were struck and killed by vehicles in 2017, a big uptick from historical averages, according to NFPA data.

 

In Montes’s column, he lays out his own experiences with roadside close calls, and why there should be a renewed effort to train members on how to safely navigate responses on busy roads. With drivers distracted more than ever, roadside safety needs to become a higher priority for all responders, Montes writes.

 

Read more in the responder column in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal.

The electrical world is changing, are you keeping up?

As demand for high-performance smart buildings increases, the solutions needed to support that demand are evolving.  NFPA and our community of experienced professionals are working hard to make sure we educate the world on what is changing and how to safely and efficiently navigate these changes.

One of the ways we are doing this for the electrical industry is through our FREE ExpoPlus Electrical Experience in San Antonio from June 17-20, 2019. Come join us at our interactive expo where you’ll get hands-on experience with products from Cisco Systems, Eaton, Milwaukee Electric Tools, Oberon, and more. Check out our Emerging Technology Showcase, view in-depth product displays and participate in an immersive virtual reality tour of the building of tomorrow.

As an added bonus, part of this free show includes our ExpoPlus Education Sessions. Learn from professionals about the costs of shortcuts to safety and get updates on the NEC 2020 and what’s changed from the last edition. Are you interested in learning more about developing an electrical safety program? Then you won't want to miss our one-day "Developing an Electrical Safety Program Based on NFPA 70E" classroom training right here in San Antonio.

Want to get even more out of NFPA’s Conference & Expo? Purchase our All Access pass and experience everything that the conference has to offer. Over 140 education sessions covering code requirements and safety best practices.  

Make sure you are up to date; don’t get caught falling behind. Let NFPA help you take that next step forward in your career.  Join us in June! Register today.

May is National Electrical Safety Month and the theme this year is “Electrical Safety During Natural Disasters.” While this event is sponsored by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), still so much of what we do here at NFPA is closely aligned with the mission of this campaign. We aim every day to keep everyone safe from electrical hazards during a natural disaster and all other times of the year.

 

Electrical safety during a natural disaster is often the last thing on the mind of those who are watching their entire lives floating away in flood waters. Often in this situation emotions are on high and the concern is with preserving and saving items within a home that represent far more than just physical objects. Think about how many items you might have in storage that hold a sort of sentimental value. Items that if lost in a flood would be devastating to give up. Personally, I can think of a few boxes that live in my basement that are 100% irreplaceable.

 

But what would I do if I suddenly found my basement full of water from a storm? Would I attempt to rescue the precious memories stored within those boxes? Are there any dangers to attempting such a daring rescue? Unfortunately, I would have to ride this one out. During a flood, there are often times where water will rise to above the receptacle height and can become energized. Combined with the fact that underneath this watery intruder lays numerous paths that provide a way for current to get back to the source. Flooded basements can often become a potential killer.

 

Entering flood waters in a basement for any reason can be fatal, but there are a few precautions that you can take to ensure that you don’t find yourself wading through water that you might never return from.

 

First, if you know the possibility of a flood exists or that an upcoming storm presents strong wind and lightning potential, it is a good idea to turn off all non-essential circuits. However, making the call on what is considered “essential” or not can be tough if you don’t know the ins and outs of how your house is wired. Therefore, many recommend turning off the main disconnect to the home to prevent damage to the wiring system that might occur due to line surges and high voltage crossovers. This also de-energizes any equipment that could lead to an electrical hazard if flooding occurs. If there is a back-up generator installed for the home, turning it off as well can help prevent electrified flood waters.

 

Second, if at all possible, move precious or important items to “higher ground.” If you know that a big storm is coming and the possibility of a flooded home is real, move your important items to an upper level of the home. This way you are not tempted to forge your way through potentially hazardous flood waters to save your things. In past flood disasters, there have been many instances where folks have been injured due to electrified water; being prepared for this kind of event can keep you from adding to the statistics.

 

Third, It is also important to ensure that all safety devices such as GFCI and surge protective devices are in good working order. The manufacturers of these items will spell out how to test and maintain this equipment. Keep in mind that most manufacturers have recommendations for regular testing and maintenance to make sure these devices will function when needed. So before putting your life on the line or assuming that your home theater is protected by that surge protection device, verify that these devices are in good working order by following the recommended testing procedure.

 

Lastly, DO NOT re-energize any electrical equipment that has been submerged in flood waters. It is impossible to know the extent of the damage without having a competent individual such as an electrician or inspector evaluate the equipment prior to turning it back on. Flood waters usually consist of more than just water and even though equipment might be completely dry, there is no telling what else could have been left behind. Often equipment that has been submerged in a flooded home will just need to be replaced. Some equipment might be able to be refurbished, however when you weigh the cost of refurbishing vs replacing, it is usually more cost effective and quicker to replace the damaged item.

 

These are just some high level items to help keep us all safe this storm season. While many of you are already on NFPA Xchange and regularly consume safety-related content like this, we all have family and friends who might have no idea what to do in a storm to protect their belongings and stay clear from danger zones that can be present after disaster strikes. Please share this blog and additional information that can be found on the NFPA Emergency Preparedness website. Until next time, be safe!


In March 2018, a fire on the set of the movie "Motherless Brooklyn," in Harlem, New York City, left one firefighter dead. (Newscom) 

Last week, a fire in the upstate New York town of Ellenville destroyed a car dealership where filming of an HBO miniseries staring Mark Ruffalo was taking place. The mayor of the town placed blame for the blaze squarely on the filming activity, according to a local newspaper

 

"They made it into a 1950s-1960s dealership, and something they did there caused the fire," he told the paper. Later articles have indicated an electrical problem sparked the fire but didn't elaborate on whether the dealership's electrical system was to blame or a piece of equipment brought in by the production company. No injuries were reported. 

 

The incident coincidentally occurred the same week an article I wrote for the May/June issue of NFPA Journal on fire and life safety on movie and television sets came out. The piece, "Ready for 'action!'?," details a fatal movie set fire that occurred in Harlem in March 2018, as well as the resources that currently exist to protect sets from fire and other life safety hazards. These resources include documents like NFPA 140, Standard on Motion Picture and Television Production Studio Soundstages, Approved Production Facilities, and Production Locations, and a training program developed by CAL FIRE. 

 

Read the full story and more from the new May/June issue at nfpa.org/journal, and listen to a podcast about the article here

May is National Electrical Safety Month and we are excited to have the opportunity to share some of the safety messaging NFPA has distributed throughout its lengthy history.

 

 

This week we are have a classic public service advertisement from 1964 warning the public to pay attention to the electrical.  Sparky’s message may be and old one, but it is still a valid and important one.

According to NFPA’s latest Home Electrical Fires report, “Aging electrical systems in older homes can be a source of arc faults, either through normal wear and tear or because the systems cannot accommodate the greater demands of modern appliances. Circuits can also be overloaded by providing electricity to too many appliances, often through power cords.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

Photo Credit:
By Bill Dickinson (websites [2][3]) - [1], CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14815966

 

Generally when people walk into a building, they assume that the building will provide a reasonable degree of life safety. NFPA 101, along with other codes and standards, provide the road map to achieving the reasonable degree of life safety that is generally expected by the public. However, unless enforced, codes and standards do not have the ability to protect building occupants. The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) plays a vital role in enforcement of the code for the entire lifetime of a building; during construction, occupancy, and rehabilitation.

 

The term AHJ can apply to many different people and groups. A single building may have multiple AHJs which can include federal, state, and local agencies such as a fire marshal, electrical inspector, or health department inspector. In addition to the public sector, an AHJ might also include an insurance company, listing agency, corporate safety officer, and even a property owner.

 

4.6.1.1 The AHJ shall determine whether the provisions of this Code are met.

 

The role of the AHJ is to determine if a building, building component, or design meet the provisions and intent of the code. This can be a challenging task as the code has a very broad application including new and existing buildings and structures that can range from an existing single-family home to a new high-rise hospital. Paired with rapidly changing technology, innovation, operational needs, and design trends, it is not feasible to have the code address every possible design scenario. As a result, often times an AHJ is required to use the code requirements and their professional judgement on whether a design is code-compliant or meets the intent of the code.

 

In addition to determining compliance with the prescription requirements, there are many provisions which are left to discretion of the AHJ. For example, a hazardous area is defined as an area in a building that poses a degree of hazard greater than the general occupancy. The ambiguity to this definition is intentional to give the AHJ the ability to determine on a case-by-case basis if an area should be classified and protected as a hazardous area. While a storage room larger than 100 sq. ft. storing combustible materials would be required to be classified as a hazardous area in a new health care occupancy, the same storage room in an assembly occupancy would only be required to be classified as a hazardous area where the quantity of combustible supplies is “deemed hazardous” by the AHJ.

 

6.4.5 Modification Requirements for Existing Buildings. Where it is evident that a reasonable degree of safety is provided, the requirements for existing buildings shall be permitted to be modified if their application would be impractical in the judgement of the authority having jurisdiction.

 

The code also provides the AHJ with a degree of flexibility when applying the provisions of the code to existing buildings where “a reasonable degree of safety is provided.” It is not the intent of this section to make the requirements of NFPA 101 not applicable to existing buildings, but there are many times in existing buildings where modifications to the building would require significant effort and expense for minimal life safety benefit. For example, an AHJ may permit an existing non-compliant travel distance in an existing building that has been retrofitted with sprinklers, if they determine that a reasonable degree of life safety is provided.

 

Ultimately, the determination if a building, new or existing, is safe for occupancy is up to the AHJ. As NFPA 101 (4.6.9) indicates, a building shall be occupied only where “no serious life safety hazard exists as judged by the authority having jurisdiction.” It is also important to remember that each potential AHJ may have different goals and thresholds that they consider an acceptable level of life safety. For example, your local fire marshal may have a different goal than your insurance company, and so when enforcing the same code may have varying thresholds of what they consider acceptable.

 

To uphold the level of life safety that the public expects, it is important during the entire lifetime of a building, to understand the role and responsibilities of the AHJ, and their enforcement of the code in the interest of building occupant safety.

 

Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”

 

Energy storage systems, community risk reduction, and important changes to the 2020 editions of NFPA 25 and the NEC—those are just some of the highlights of the new May/June NFPA Journal, which previews the upcoming NFPA Conference & Expo®, scheduled for June 17–20 in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Leading our feature package in this issue is a profile of Charles Hood, chief of the San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD). Since arriving in San Antonio 12 years ago, Hood has overseen a dramatic transformation of the department that has put it among the best, most forward-looking fire departments in the country. Jesse Roman, Journal associate editor, offers an up-close look at Hood, his management style, and his vision for the department.

 

Our features also include a big-picture look at the theme of smart technology and how it will be addressed at the conference—Angelo Verzoni, Journal staff writer, takes a broad look at these emerging technologies and connects the dots on their myriad applications. Our feature on community risk reduction, or CRR, introduces readers to the important efforts underway at NFPA to develop CRR tools, and previews the variety of education sessions that will focus on this emerging concept.

 

Our code-related features include updates on the 2020 editions of the National Electrical Code® and NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. There’s also a story introducing readers to an important new standard: NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, or ESS, a topic that will be addressed in numerous education sessions and other events at the upcoming conference.

 

Our May/June departments include a “Perspectives” interview with Kris Hauschildt, whose parents died from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in a North Carolina hotel. Hauschildt, an ed session presenter in San Antonio, is on a mission to raise awareness about carbon monoxide threats, and is working with a committee of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, to include new requirements for CO detectors in existing hotels. Our lead “Dispatches” story is a fascinating look at fire hazards on the sets of movies and television productions.

 

The issue also includes complete listings for product exhibitors at the upcoming conference & expo.

 

The May/June NFPA Journal is out now in print, as well as online at nfpa.org/journal. Mobile warriors can download our free apps for Apple and Android devices at nfpa.org/journalapps.

 

Often considered the unofficial kick-off to summer, Memorial Day weekend includes lots of celebrations featuring cookouts and barbeques. But it also means the increased risk of grilling fires, as May is among the leading months for home grilling fires. The peak months for grilling fires are July, followed by June, May, and August.

 

On average each year (between 2013 and 2017), U.S. fire departments responded to 10,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbeques, including an average of 4,500 structure fires and 5,700 outside or unclassified fires. These fires resulted in 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $123 million in direct property damage, on average each year.

 

Leading causes of home grilling fires include failing to properly clean the grill, leaks or breaks, and having a flammable object too close to the grill. Unattended cooking is a major cause of all types of cooking fires, including grill fires. Leaks and breaks are a particular problem with gas grills.

 

NFPA offers these tips and recommendations for enjoying a fire-safe grilling season:

  • For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use in the months ahead. (Watch NFPA’s video on how to check for leaks.)
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
  • If you use starter fluid when charcoal grilling, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. When you a finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.

 

As the long weekend fast-approaches, take the time to inspect and test your grill, and make sure you have a safe location for using it!

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