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The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, is being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the May 8, 2020 comment closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

The challenges of medical surge related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is the topic of a new NFPA Journal Podcast out now. Listen to the entire 45-minute, special-edition episode online now. Or download it wherever you get your podcast.


America's health care system is now experiencing a surge in patients with COVID-19, leading facilities and emergency responders to increase capacity and adapt in myriad ways. What will the health care surge mean for fire and life safety at existing health care facilities desperate to expand their patient capacity? What will it mean for responders on the front lines facing supply shortages? Learn how states are gearing up to address the crisis by erecting off-site field hospitals, creating makeshift floating hospitals, and repurposing other buildings to meet the medical demand.


The first segment of the podcast includes an interview I conducted with Jon Hart, an NFPA technical lead who is well-versed in codes applicable to health care facilities such as NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. In our 15-minute interview, Hart discusses the recent federal announcements to delay code enforcement activities in some health care facilities and what it means for fire and life safety at those locations. He doesn't pull any punches in saying the coronavirus pandemic could result in some less-than-ideal facility safety situations, but it's all about prioritizing in this unprecedented time. "Let's look for the big, obvious safety violations and things that are truly a hazard," Hart tells me, "but smaller things that may not be perfectly in compliance, they may just have to slip."


In the second segment of the podcast (at 17:40), my colleague Jesse Roman interviews John Montes, NFPA's emergency services specialist. Montes describes what could happen in the United States if the coronavirus-spawned health care surge becomes so severe that we have to provide care to patients in settings outside of traditional hospitals—places like repurposed hotels, docked cruise ships, and mobile field hospitals like those used in the military. Some locations are already planning for this process. "We have to think bigger, bigger scale [for this pandemic]," Montes says in the podcast. "We could potentially find ourselves in a situation where we are in more of a wartime footing where we are making exemptions and we are using outside resources to make this happen."


The NFPA Journal Podcast is a monthly series. Listen to past episodes here, including the March 13 episode on crisis standards of care and how emergency response agencies should be preparing for the unfolding crisis. Subscribe to NFPA Journal Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.


“We have an obligation to the customers we serve … But we also have to protect our members because, if we don’t protect them, who’s going to answer the call for 911?” Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade told a local news station during a recent report on the coronavirus or COVID-19.


Responders respond


Captain McQuade is not alone in his thinking. Emergency response departments everywhere are stepping up their service and capabilities in the wake of the dangerous coronavirus that is sweeping the globe. To reduce risk of exposure, emergency response organizations have been making adjustments to their protocol; and for most, the new normal consists of screening 911 callers, adjusting response tactics, donning more PPE than usual, frantically searching for more of that gear and elusive testing kits, self-quarantining because of potential exposure or confirmed infection, protecting their families and loved ones from being exposed to anything they may have exposed to, taking patients to alternative sites, and preparing for reduced resources and manpower.


911, what’s the nature of your emergency?


Dispatch has always played a critical role in emergency response, but now the men and women on the line are asking 911 callers whether the sick or injured party (and others in the home) have been outside the country, exhibiting signs of fever or flu-like systems, or have come in contact with anyone that has been tested. These are critical protection measures so that responders can protect themselves when they go into certain emergency situations. Rhode Island public safety dispatchers are taking things a step further by requesting, if at all possible, that patients meet them outdoors where they will have their temperature taken. Paramedics and EMTs then call ahead to hospitals so that health care professionals can prepare for patient intake and provide guidance on the best ways for responders to deliver patients once onsite. States are setting up testing sites in vacant hotels, cruise ships, other buildings, and mobile field units/alternative sites to allow for increased testing, more rapidly. If it is determined that a patient needs transport to a healthcare facility – family members will likely be unable to join them in the ambulance unless that patient is a child or has special needs. Loved ones are also directed to contact the hospital directly to determine if they can visit patients.


Changes in access

In some cases, the screening tables have been turned on responders JEMS reports that nursing homes and other care facilities are screening paramedics as they come in to pick up patients because they stand a strong chance of being virus carriers. Wes Ward, EMS Battalion Chief for Center Point Fire District in Alabama told JEMS, “We don’t want to be a route of transmission of the disease throughout the public. That was a problem with the SARS disease in Toronto and we learned a lot from that.”

Shortage of supplies persist

Enhanced 911 call intake procedures also inform the way that paramedics and others dress for certain calls. If a patient seems to be infected or at risk, responders are donning PPE including masks, goggles, gloves and gowns. There is an alarmingly low supply of protective gear available for hospitals and responders. Fire departments, labor unions and elected officials have voiced concerns over this sad and dangerous reality. Typically, departments overwhelmed by a disaster rely on mutual aid or an agreement to share first responders and resources, but COVID-19 likely won’t adhere to man-made boundaries - making it less likely to tap into neighborly assets.

Testing is still largely reserved for the elderly, individuals with underlying health problems, and those suffering from more severe symptoms. Vice President Pence recently recognized the importance of testing those working on the front line, President Mike Pence said, “It is important the tests are available for the people who are most in need, and our health care workers and first responders that are helping and supporting them.” On the very same day Pence spoke about the issue, a policy maker in Florida suggested that first responders “take one for the team” and build immunity by getting infected by the virus in a controlled setting.


The downside of delayed responsiveness

The list of responders affected by the virus continues to grow. The first confirmed case of coronavirus occurred over two months ago in Kirkland, Washington. More than 40 first responders in that community went through a 14-day quarantine period – some sheltered in place at home while others holed up at a fire station that re-opened last weekend after a thorough cleaning. Some firefighters remain in home quarantined there. The number of infected firefighters continues to jump in cities and towns all over America. Last week, 80 remained under quarantine in San Jose, California, and the city temporarily shut down two fire stations. Similar efforts took place in Brooklyn – and are increasingly happening in communities all over.

Community communications is key


There are a lot of positives to take away from this global pandemic and one, in particular, is the proactive way that emergency response organizations are communicating to the public about local emergency preparedness decisions, changing protocol, social distancing, and sharing the hazards that are occurring as a result of the coronavirus. We are seeing fire departments, EMS, and others working to minimize frustrations, provide best practices, and debunk misinformation via media outlets, social media channels, department communications platforms, and regularly scheduled press events. Leaders are addressing local exposure issues, reminding us to not mix disinfectants that can generate dangerous, toxic fumes, and sharing guideline from different organizations. Emphasizing the importance of social distancing, and getting the word out about local changes related to firehouses (station visits, tours, community events and any other interaction that might put the public and emergency response personnel at risk). All these changes and communication efforts go a long way in alleviating concerns, defusing misinformation, empowering the public, and keeping people safe.


For the latest COVID-19 information from NFPA visit this landing page - As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, we remain 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.

The following errata on NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®: and NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code; was issued on March 10, 2020:


  • NFPA 13, Errata 13-19-5, referencing and Table 23.6.1 of the 2019 edition
  • NFPA 70, Errata 70-20-3, referencing 225.30 of the 2020 edition
  • NFPA 99, Errata 99-18-3, referencing of the 2018 edition


An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the Standard.


In these uncertain times…

I cannot count the number of times I have heard or read this phrase over the past week. Amid this COVID-19 pandemic, our world is in crisis. We face unbelievable challenges in the weeks and months ahead. We are scared of the known and the unknown.

But even during these uncertain times, there is good reason for optimism. Because where challenges live, so do opportunities.

While this war against COVID-19 isn’t something we would ever wish for, we have the opportunity to leverage an unprecedented shift in public attitude and behavior. We are entering this battle as a culture of rescue - one in which we trust a system to provide an ever-present safety net. One in which we are sometimes complacent in the work of preventing emergencies. BUT - with a little bit of effort, we will finish this battle with a culture of responsibility.
While the challenges are vast, there is an opportunity to emerge from this pandemic as a world driven to prevent, partner, plan, and protect.

In many places, we are seeing signs of this already.

The media has focused the public’s attention to the problem at hand. Individuals are taking actions to protect family members and strangers alike through social distancing and quarantines. Religious services are being streamed and restaurants closed to keep parishioners and patrons healthy. Kids on “coronacations” are learning virtually as parents become ad-hoc home school teachers. Unexpected public-private partnerships are sprouting up in an effort to combat the physical, emotional, and financial difficulties. People are being re-educated with amended definitions of “emergency” and developing self-reliance should the need for medical attention arise.

Emergency declarations are often driving the bus on these actions. The public is moving towards compliance.
And, folks, this is exciting and encouraging.

In my role at NFPA, I am immersed in all things Community Risk Reduction (CRR). My work is focused on increasing awareness and implementation of CRR to help communities identify, prioritize and plan to mitigate risks. It requires a dive into the data, input from partners, and lots of creative, strategic thinking to reach the end goal of safer communities.
An important ingredient in CRR success is an activated public focused on responsibility for individual and community safety. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unfortunate catalyst driving this positive shift.

It will take time to see outcomes we consider as positive. But there is value in thinking ahead. If your community currently embraces CRR, pay attention to the opportunities to expand your tailored messaging. Support your vulnerable residents and ensure their needs are met. Make note of the partnerships that are forming now. Start planning new strategies to leverage a renewed sense of responsibility among business owners, students, and families. Pay attention to the boat-loads of community data sliding across our screens every day.

If you are new to CRR (or not), take some time to read through NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. As standards go, it is a short read but packs a punch with helpful information for anyone looking to understand CRR foundations.


Pay particular attention to the information about Community Risk Assessment (CRA). This process is guided by an examination of 9 different community profiles to provide a clear view of the risks in the communities. A look at profiles such as demographics, critical infrastructure, economics and others may well provide helpful information during the fight against COVID-19, as well as in the aftermath.

While these are indeed uncertain times, let’s work together and ensure something good comes from the chaos. Seize the opportunities.

For additional CRR resources, go to Feel free to reach out to the NFPA CRR team at too.

The following four proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 1006, Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications; NFPA 1192, Standard on Recreational Vehicles; and NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, are being published for public review and comment:


  • NFPA 13, proposed TIA No. 1489, referencing Table of the 2019 edition, closing date: 3/31/2020
  • NFPA 1006, proposed TIA No. 1488, referencing 10.3.1, 10.3.2, and 10.3.3 of the proposed 2021 edition, closing date 3/24/2020
  • NFPA 1192, proposed TIA No. 1490, referencing 1.3.3 of the 2021 edition, closing date: 4/16/2020
  • NFPA 1851, proposed TIA 1484, referencing various sections in Chapters 7, 11, 12, and Annex A, of the 2020 edition, closing date: 4/30/2020


Anyone may Submit a Comment on these proposed TIAs by the closing date indicated above.  Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council.



As the world grapples with the unprecedented health crisis known as COVID-19 or the coronavirus, NFPA, like many organizations, is monitoring the U.S. Centers for Disease Controland Prevention and other governmental sources for COVID-19 updates and adjusting business practices as recommended.


We know that the information available through NFPA is of paramount importance to safety in both ordinary times and extraordinary ones. NFPA is fully operational and providing our tools and resources to those who depend on them to continue to do their jobs safely and protect their communities. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve put out a number of communications related to the pandemic.  For your convenience, here’s an overview of them and some additional information in one single post.


Emergency Planning

In a blog earlier this month, our Emergency Services Specialist John Montes wrote a blog entitled, Organizational Planning Tips for Pandemic Preparedness. While many may not immediately think of NFPA as the first place to go for resources in a medical emergency, Montes points to NFPA 1600, Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management  which was recognized as the US National Preparedness Standard by the 9/11 Commission. Widely used by public, not-for-profit, nongovernmental, and private entities on a local, regional, national, and global basis, NFPA 1600 has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a voluntary consensus standard for emergency preparedness. The standard is available on the NFPA website for free viewing, and offers key information for entities who want to conduct a risk assessment, business impact analysis, capabilities and needs assessments, and develop emergency and recovery plans.


He also references NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code which provides critical safety information and requirements for isolation spaces, emergency planning, IT and data infrastructure, and more. An additional resource is the NFPA Emergency Preparedness Checklist.


Responder Safety During Pandemics

When tragic events unfold, it is our first responders that are on the frontline, risking their own safety to help others. Staff Writer Angelo Verzoni speaks to a number of fire service professionals in the latest NFPA Journal Podcast. The timely podcast looks at the additional precautions that can be put in place to enhance the well-being of first responders.


Fire Doors and Life Safety

Kristin Bigda, the NFPA technical lead on building and life safety posted a blog - Don't Compromise Fire Safety While Responding to Coronavirus: Keep Fire Doors Operable after hearing that  facilities had begun propping fire doors open so that people didn’t have to touch handles for egress. While she recognizes the logic in terms of germ spread prevention, Bigda stresses that propping fire doors open presents significant hazards and risks in the event of a fire.  “It is imperative that we not forfeit institutional elements of safety while working to address others. In this case, we need to balance the risk of the coronavirus against other real hazards that have the potential to harm multiple people in a very short window of time,” the popular NFPA 101 blogger said.


NFPA codes and standards such as NFPA 1, Fire CodeNFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, govern the installation, inspection, testing and maintenance of fire doors.  Fire doors and other opening protectives such as shutters and windows must be operable at all times. 


Trainings and Certifications

Amidst travel bans and cancellations of face-to-face gatherings, we understand that individuals are not able to participate in live training programs or conferences aimed at keeping them up to date on the latest learnings for their professions or meeting various certification requirements. NFPA offers a full array of online training and certification programs to help meet those needs.


During this time, we are all focused on responding appropriately and continuing our efforts to enhance safety. Thank you for the work you all do. For the latest from NFPA, please visit our website.

As incidents of the coronavirus have continued to climb in the U.S., you’d be hard-pressed to get through the past couple of weeks without hearing reports of its spread. All of this is understandably generating conversation and concern among all of us.


While no one knows what the true extent of the virus or its impact will be, it’s clear that everyone is thinking hard about ways to implement preventative measures for keeping safe.


At NFPA, we’ve recently heard that some facilities have begun propping fire doors open so that people don’t have to touch them to open them. While I can see the logic in terms of germ spread prevention, propping fire doors open presents significant hazards and risks in the event of a fire.


It is imperative that we not forfeit institutional elements of safety while working to address others. In this case, we need to balance the risk of the coronavirus against other real hazards that have the potential to harm multiple people in a very short window of time.


NFPA codes and standards such as NFPA 1, Fire Code, NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, govern the installation, inspection, testing and maintenance of fire doors.  Fire doors and other opening protectives such as shutters and windows must be operable at all times.  Operability of these systems includes opening, closing and latching.  Fire doors must be kept closed and latched or arranged to be automatic closing during the time of a fire.  In addition, blocking or wedging of doors in the open position is prohibited, as it violates the required operation and closing feature of the door. 


While it may seem more “convenient” or in this case, a safer option from the perspective of spreading germs, interfering with fire door operation can have grave consequences during a fire. In addition, allowing fire doors to be held open runs a risk of this becoming an accepted practice in the building for any number of situations. Building residents and staff should be taught code-compliant solutions and should not get into a habit of overriding fire safe practices.


Anything that could prevent the door from closing and latching properly during an emergency condition such as propping the door open with objects, taping the latch, using wood wedges or kick-down door stops, or overriding the closing device, is a violation of the standards. If they are to be effective, fire doors must be not only closed but also held closed. Building fires are capable of generating pressures sufficient to force fire doors open if they are not held closed with enough latching force, thereby rendering the doors incapable of protecting the opening in which they are installed and potentially allowing the fire to spread to an adjacent space and beyond the compartment of origin.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a wealth of information, guidelines, and resources for cleaning and disinfecting facilities in the community setting:


And, of course, as common sense dictates, wash your hands regularly, well and often!


Do you know someone with a passion for home fire safety? Is this person a huge proponent for home fire sprinklers? If so, you can celebrate his/her work with a formal award. 


NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) are now accepting nominations for their Bringing Safety Home Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts by a safety advocate who diligently promotes the importance of home fire sprinklers.




The Award honors members of the fire service and other fire sprinkler advocates in North America who use HFSC educational materials, NFPA data, and NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources to educate decision-makers on home fire sprinklers. Efforts are aimed at educating the public and policy makers to increase the use of home fire sprinklers in new homes. The award winner will receive a $1,000 grant to further fire sprinkler advocacy and educational efforts in his/her area.


Don’t delay. Make sure your favorite home fire safety leader gets the recognition he/she deserves. NFPA and HFSC are accepting nominations for the Bringing Safety Home Award through March 27, 2020Download the application form then send it to Or visit NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpage where you can find the form along with additional information and resources about the Initiative and the award.

The growth and spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection around the world has everyone on edge. Businesses, schools, and healthcare institutions are all breaking out their pandemic plans from H1N1 in 2009 or, if they didn’t have guidance in place, they are looking to establish continuity or strategic plans in case COVID-19 threatens to impact their operations.


According to news report, COVID-19 is spreading at a fast rate; and as more testing kits become available, there will be many more confirmed cases of the virus around the world. Those kits will also provide a much better epidemiological picture of where COVID-19 is spreading and how it is being transmitted. With measures being taken to slow its spread, hopefully, we will see the impact lessened and the threat thwarted, but, in the meantime, it is important to plan for the worst.

Maybe you’re thinking COVID-19 is a medical issue, not a fire incident or emergency response concern, so how can NFPA help us?

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), recognized NFPA 1600 Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management as our National Preparedness Standard. Widely used by public, not-for-profit, nongovernmental, and private entities on a local, regional, national, and global basis, NFPA 1600 has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a voluntary consensus standard for emergency preparedness. The standard is available on the NFPA website for free viewing, and offers key information for entities who want to conduct a risk assessment, business impact analysis, capabilities and needs assessments, and develop emergency and recovery plans. Healthcare decision-makers may also find NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code helpful; the document provides critical safety information and requirements for isolation spaces, emergency planning, IT and data infrastructure, and more.

So, what can you do today to better prepare and revise your plans?

First thing is to identify the event that you are planning for. Chapter 5 of NFPA 1600 states, “Crisis management planning shall address an event, or series of events, that severely impacts or has the potential to severely impact an entity's operations, reputation, market share, ability to do business, or relationships with key stakeholders.” In the case of COVID-19 that is easy to identify. What’s harder to put a finger on is the vulnerability of people, property, operations, the environment, the entity, and the supply chain operations.


Second is to conduct a business impact analysis. A key facet of this deep dive is evaluating the following: 


  • Dependencies
  • Single-source and sole-source suppliers
  • Single points of failure
  • Potential qualitative and quantitative impacts from a disruption


Third is to assess your resource needs. Here are some things to consider:


  • What do you have in place currently to mitigate potential disruptions?
  • What are the things you must do to maintain services, at a minimum?
  • What are your technological capabilities and how can they be leveraged to minimize impact?
  • What are aspects of your business or services that can be disrupted in order to re-direct assets to necessary activities?


Once you have a good picture of the threat, your capabilities, and what you need to continue operations, you can realistically plan. Businesses and communities will be well-served if they regard the coronavirus as an opportunity for self-evaluation and to either update or create plans that will be needed if the virus continues to spread. NFPA 1600 is a valuable tool for those who are focused on continuity of operations, but bear in mind that planning cannot and should not be done in a vacuum. Establish a planning team, and invite your stakeholders, vendors, and emergency partners to participate in the planning process, where appropriate. Evaluate your products or services, and prioritize the use and purchase of them. For a business, an example of prioritization might entail decreasing marketing efforts so that fulfillment capabilities can be increased. For a school, it may entail reducing or cancelling after school events and large gatherings, such as assemblies. Another thing to consider is your physical operations. Ask questions about what can be done remotely.

Healthcare gets a little trickier because facilities service patients; but do all operational aspects require workers to be physically present, perhaps unnecessarily putting them and their loved ones at risk? Or can you identify the biggest priorities? Do you know what your surge capacity is? How many additional PPE supplies can you store? What contracts do you have in place to acquire more supplies? Are you in touch with the local health department and discussing plans for any surges, how to get support or how to offer support? Do you have MOUs with similar facilities in case your physical operations are affected? Now is the time to ask these questions, and more, and to make the necessary connections.

As an all-hazards information and knowledge leader, NFPA has worked to help entities and communities address emergencies for a very long time. As you review or develop necessary plans, consult NFPA 99, NFPA 1600, and the NFPA 1600 handbook.You may also want to consult the NFPA Emergency Preparedness Checklist or contact NFPA to learn more about a facility planning workshop that walks parties through the process of developing emergency plans.  And, as always, if you have questions or need guidance on how to access or use codes and standards - we are here to help.




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I have written a few blogs about host and contractor employer responsibilities. Over the past year, I have pointed out many times that  NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace has minimum issues that need to be addressed between the two employers. NFPA 70E requires a documented meeting but does not detail exactly what should be documented. NFPA 70E refers to known electrical hazards but it really is how the contract employee will be protected from those hazards that should be addressed.


A host employer is responsible for safety in their facility regardless of purpose of a visit. No one should violate the host’s established safety procedures regardless of their employment status. A host employer is not given carte blanche to allow contract employees to willfully expose themselves to the risk of an injury or fatality. Host employers have been cited by OSHA for incidents involving contract employees. At the very least the host and contract employers should review each other’s applicable safety procedures. They should then document how the contract employee will conduct the task. A host employer may find it hard to justify hiring a contract employer who has no safety policy, procedures or training for the task to be performed in their facility. It is also possible that the contract employer must educate, train and document what is to occur due to lack of a host employer safety policy. A consensus should be reached on how to educate and train contract employees. This must occur before an employer begins the task. If it is not documented, it did not happen.


I pulled up the BLS database for fatal occupational injuries incurred by contracted workers (2011-2017) to provide some data to illustrate the need for a host and contract employer to be in the same ball park. During this time there were 1,049 fatalities, including 440 contract employees, from exposure to electricity in all occupations. I expect that an employee is either working for a host (employer) or a contract employer. A simplistic view with all things being equal would be a 50/50 split if there was an equal number of employees. Contract employees account for 42% of all contact fatalities. Contract workers in the database are not limited to those in the electrical industry. Employees from cleaning services, HVAC, plumbing, groundskeeping, and other non-electrical trades are included. The following charts show the percentage of contact fatalities attributed to contracted workers compared to all other workers. Note that fatalities due to >220 volts may be included within the other three sub-categories.



From this data, it seems as if the contract employee is not fully aware of the distribution system or equipment at the host’s site when performing an assigned task. This unfamiliarity results in contract employees accounting for a higher percentage of building wiring and switchboard, switch and fuse fatalities than for all contact fatalities. It could also be the reason behind the slightly higher percentage of contract electrician fatalities. The minor rise in >220 volt contact fatalities may be due to contract employees being exposed to higher voltages than seen while performing typical tasks. Contract employee fatalities due to contact with powerlines is consistent with the overall contact fatalities.


Host employers may be taking a hands-off attitude with electrical safety when using a contact employer. Host employers may be hiring contract employers without implementing a safety program with them. Host employers may not be verifying that a qualified or a properly trained unqualified contract employee is assigned the task. The contract employer may not be enforcing their own safety protocols while at a host employer facility. The contact employer may not be ensuring that an employee is qualified or trained for the specific task to be conducted and to recognize the electrical hazards associated with the host’s specific equipment.


A contract employer must address the safety of their own employees regardless of the work location and assigned task whether it is electrical or not. A host employer is not only responsible for the safety of their own employees but also contract employees from any trade. A host may assume that a contract employer has a well-developed and documented electrical safety program (ESP) and that only qualified or trained contract employees will be assigned work. The host may assume that the contract employer’s ESP addresses issues within the host’s facility. We all know about assumptions. When it comes to electrical safety and keeping an employee alive or uninjured, an assumption does not provide the correct answer. A host and contract employer must be sure and it should be documented.


For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange.


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

Next time: Putting an Employee’s Life at Risk for No Reason

In October 2019, a construction worker at a residential project in New Jersey was electrocuted and killed when scaffolding 70etouched a high-tension power line. That same month, a worker at a construction site in Maryland died when the articulating boom he was operating reportedly touched a power line. In December last year, an Amtrak worker in New York died when he placed a ladder against a substation transformer that he thought was off, but was in fact still energized.

In light of these fatalities, it’s critical to examine how much and what kind of electrical safety training employers are required to provide their employees, and what that training should accomplish.


In his latest NFPA Journal column, Derek Vigstol dives into the subject of electrical safety training. It starts, he says, not just with our set of personal protection equipment (PPE) but with a genuine understanding of the definition of a “qualified person.”

Read “In Compliance” in the March/April 2020 issue of NFPA Journal.


In an effort to reach more people across the globe with fire, life and electrical safety information, NFPA is expanding its digital delivery of content for Spanish-speaking audiences.


Beginning this year, NFPA will produce six digital issues of the entire NFPA Journal in which all editorial, columns and other materials are translated into Spanish. NFPA Journal, as the official publication of NFPA, contains coverage of news and topics of interest around the world and will now be more accessible for Spanish-speaking individuals.


This change replaces Journal Latinoamericano, a print and digital magazine that began more than two decades ago and contained a selection of articles from NFPA Journal, as well as articles written by Latin American professionals. Journal Latinoamericano included a limited print circulation four times a year and an accompanying digital version.


This move will provide more frequent content - six translated digital issues of NFPA Journal per year. The transition is part of a continuing effort to translate a growing array of NFPA materials including blogs, codes and standards, training and other information (all available as digital delivery).


Visit NFPA Journal en Español to learn more or to sign up for the digital edition.

Recently, two teachers’ unions joined forces with Everytown USA, a gun violence prevention advocacy group. They released a position statement against active shooter exercises, featuring realistic simulations, in schools; and highlighted the psychological and emotional impact on students that participated in those simulations. There have been reports of workplace exercises where occupants of buildings have also suffered harm as a result of realistic simulations.


The Everytown USA statement closely resembles one produced by the National Association of School Resource Officers and The Association of School Phycologists (NASRO/NASP with one big differentiation: NASRO/NASP made a distinction between exercises and drills. Why is this important? Because they are considered two very different things in codes and standards.

NFPA has several documents (NFPA 101, NFPA 99, NFPA 1600, NFPA 3000, and more) that talk about drills and exercises. Although the codes are different, they all recognize that drills differ from exercises. An exercise as defined in NFPA 1600 Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management is a process to assess, train, practice, and improve performance in an entity. It’s important to note that it says entity, not occupants.

None of the NFPA codes or standards currently define what the term “drill” means but the term “fire drill” has its own section in NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. In Chapter 4 of NFPA 101, and in its explanatory language in Annex A, it is clearly laid out that the intent of drills is to familiarize occupants with using different egress routes and practicing drills at different times. NFPA 101 advises to use simulated conditions, and the explanatory annex clarifies that this reference applies to using the emergency egress alarm to signal the drill; practicing at different times of the day or different days of the week; and to searching for a secondary exit, if the closest one is blocked.

Both drills and exercises are effective practices, and should be used to keep our schools and communities safe.
Drills focus on the occupants of a building and are meant to teach a skill or action by following and practicing a set of instructions. As an example, a fire drill is designed to teach occupants of a building to egress the building quickly and safely. During fire drills you can gain additional skills by learning to check for the nearest exit to you, by seeking an alternative exit, and moving to relocation areas. Most of us are familiar with drills because we have experienced them on a regular basis from kindergarten through adulthood.

School drills have proven to be historically successful. In fact, the last fire-related deaths recorded at a school were in 1958. What’s great about drills is you are learning a skill (egress or shelter in place) that can be applied in different scenarios. Egress knowledge, for example, is important during a fire but can also be applied during an active shooter incident. Shelter in place is key during a hostile event, but it can also be useful during natural disasters, air quality issues and other emergencies. The skills taught to occupants during drills can typically be applied when direction is given or when occupants are faced with decisions.

Drills should be conducted in accordance with locally adopted codes, like NFPA 101. The proposed 2021 edition of NFPA 101 requires an emergency egress drill for each month that school is in session. Where allowed by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), those monthly egress drills can be changed from egress to another form of preparedness drill, twice per school year. This was done in order to give schools more flexibility and to not have emergency drills take up an exorbitant amount of time each month. These guidelines are minimum requirements; schools and AHJs may choose to do more, if they see fit.

An exercise applies to the entity. Exercises are designed to simulate hazards, conditions, and responses to dynamic threats. They give participants an opportunity to test preparedness measures, decision-making, and necessary skills, among other things. An exercise is much more dynamic and complicated than a drill and usually serves building and life safety authorities the most. By simulating a hazard and responding to it, the exercise creates opportunities to test procedures for access, way-finding, threat remediation, rendering aid, and relocating injured parties out of a building. For example, an active shooter exercise may be used to assess communication between school leaders and responders; determine responders’ abilities to navigate buildings; gage how aid is provided; examine the functions of unified command; and analyze the procedures for community notifications.

Like drills, exercises can improve an entity’s readiness and reinforce critical decision-making skills, while under pressure. Exercises help responders get familiar with the intricacies of buildings. They provide a means to practice communication methods and elicit feedback on what plans, policies, and procedures worked - and what didn’t go so well.

NFPA 3000 Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response Program requires that facilities who have been deemed by their AHJ to be at risk for an active shooter or hostile event exercise all, or part of their emergency operations plan, no less than once annually. NFPA 3000 explains that the exercise is designed to be coordinated with community response partners. The exercise can be a tabletop or functional exercise; in other words, occupants don’t need to be involved in any way. NFPA 3000 further specifies that training the occupants of a building on their expected actions be part of an emergency plan (i.e. drills).

Understanding the differences between the terms drill and exercise can help re-frame modern day conversations about safety. Here are the key takeaways.


  1. There is a difference between drills and exercises!
  2. Keep the occupants of your buildings and your building’s community informed of your efforts!
  3. Follow the codes!
  4. Work with your AHJ!


And remember, NFPA codes and standards are designed to make our communities safer. If you have questions related to building and life safety, contact an NFPA staff member today.




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