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Seventy-six years ago today, an early morning fire at the Luongo’s Tap restaurant in Boston, MA took the lives of six firefighters and injured forty-five others.
The fire started in the ceiling above the kitchen on the first floor of the building owned by the Luongo family. The incident had escalated quickly to 3 alarms when the brick wall on the Henry Street side of the building collapsed on many of the firefighters on the scene.
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.

Each year, NFPA compiles a list of the costliest fires in the United States, a list increasingly dominated by destructive wildfires; 2017 was no different.


According to the NFPA report, “Large-Loss Fires and Explosions,” published in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal, 2017’s most destructive fires were both what experts call “fire siege” wildfire incidents. These are multiple, simultaneous wildfires that burn over a long period of time and cover large land areas. The most destructive of these series of wildfires occurred last October in and around Santa Rosa, California. The fires, led by the Tubbs Fire, caused $10 billion in damage, killed 44 people, and destroyed an estimated 8,900 structures.


This event was the highest damage total in the past 10 years and the second-highest in NFPA records of U.S. fires. The only fire with greater losses, including adjustments to 2017 dollars, was the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. To learn much more about the Tubbs Fire, its impact, and rebuilding efforts, read "Build. Burn. Repeat." the cover story of the January/February NFPA Journal.


Another fire siege in Southern California last December killed four people and caused $1.8 billion in damage, and was the second costliest fire in the U.S. last year, according to the NFPA report. All told, last year saw 13 fires classified as large-loss fires—that is, fires resulting in at least $10 million in damage, adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars—resulting in a combined property loss of $12.4 billion, according to the NFPA report.


In the past 10 years, there have been 26 fires that have caused a loss of $100 million or more; exactly half of these destructive events have been wildfires. These figures do not account for the hugely destructive fires currently ravaging California, which appear to have now eclipsed even last year’s October fire siege in California. As of this writing, the three largest wildfires currently burning in California have resulted in 50 confirmed deaths and nearly 10,000 structures burned.


To see more statistics and learn more about 2017’s most devastating U.S. fires, read the full report in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.

NFPA NewsThe November 2018 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.
In this issue:
  • New project on Fuel Gases Detection
  • Proposed Tentative Interim Amendments seeking comments on NFPA 31, NFPA 130, NFPA 1964, and NFPA 1971
  • Standards seeking public input and public comment
  • Committees seeking members
  • Committee meetings calendar 
Subscribe today! NFPA News is a free, monthly codes and standards newsletter that includes special announcements, notification of public input and comment closing dates, requests for comments, notices on the availability of Standards Council minutes, and other important news about NFPA’s standards development process. 
NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 1964, Standard for Spray Nozzles:
  • NFPA 1964, Errata 1964-18-1, referencing various sections in Chapters 4, 5, and 6, 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 document.
If the National Electrical Code® (NEC®)covers the installation of electrical equipment and provides for the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity and NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®addresses electrical safety-related work practices for employee workplaces then how does someone span the gap between the two? That statement may surprise many of you. There’s a gap between the two standards? How can that be? From the questions I receive regarding both standards, there is a difference between what could be done and what is required to be done. 
The NEC covers the installation of electrical equipment. When electrical equipment is installed in compliance with the NEC, properly designed electrical equipment does not normally pose a risk to a person interacting with the equipment under normal operating conditions. NFPA 70E also covers a person interacting with the equipment under normal operating conditions but not from the installation aspect. NFPA 70E approaches safety from the procedural aspect of interacting with the equipment. NFPA 70E furthermore covers electrical safety when an employee is exposed to electrical hazards or the equipment is not under normal operating conditions. Neither of these conditions are addressed by the NEC. Again from NFPA 70E this is from a procedural viewpoint. So where is the gap between the two? It is in how many people approach electrical safety. Often the safe installation is completed then an electrical safety procedure is developed to address situations when an employee is exposed to electrical hazards.
Should it be that installation is installation and employee electrical safety is employee electrical safety and never the twain shall meet? Since the NEC and NFPA 70E are not always utilized by the same person and since the use of the NEC is often legislated, many consider electrical installations and electrical safety programs to be separate and distinct from one another. Something not required for a NEC compliant installation is historically not done. The NEC provides installation requirements for equipment operating at kilovolts, kiloamps and kilojoules. Correctly installed there are no exposed electrical hazards. Installation is not presumed to be energized work therefore the NEC does not address safe work practices. NFPA 70E addresses how to protect an employee when those electrical hazards are exposed. So if everyone is protected where is that gap?
I receive many questions regarding electrical safety. When descriptions of some designs and installations are given, if the question is regarding NFPA 70E, I often ask why is it being done that way. The answer usually is because the installation is permitted. I often mention that since employees will be exposed to electrical hazards when performing justified energized work, there are ways the exposure might possibly be eliminated or reduced. The reply is often that such an installation is not required. That is the gap I am talking about. There are those who install equipment in a safe manner and those who must work in a safe manner while exposed to electrical hazards. Safe work practices are not part of a de-energized installation and installation is not a work practice for exposed electrical hazards. 
For electrical safety to progress for anyone interacting with electrical equipment, electrical safety should to take a holistic approach. There are thousands of ways to install a piece of equipment while complying with the NEC requirements. One method is selected but all would result in a safe installation. The equipment will be operated safely. However, the decision to install in a particular manner can have a great effect on someone responsible for maintaining that equipment. That installation decision has a lasting impact on electrical safety for the life of that equipment. These decisions need to be made prior to installation in order to be effective. Touch safe terminals, fast-acting overcurrent devices, or some other engineering controls are installation decisions that can have a significant impact on the safety for future employees. 
Both installation and work practices impact electrical safety but they are separate and distinct electrical industries. There is no limit to the amount of energy that a safe installation can contain. However, once an employee is exposed to those hazards hindsight regarding the installation decision is too late. Electrical safety procedures are written to address the resultant electrical hazards when the safe installation is moved into a maintenance situation. In a holistic approach to electrical safety, the installation considers justified employee exposure to hazards and methods of controlling them. Under that condition, the future employee exposed to the hazards is not only protected by the installation but by the work practices. Do your electrical installations consider the future?
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange
Next time: Non-fatal injury statistics.
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 instructions.

Justin Sullivan 



An estimated 1 billion people worldwide live in areas known as slums, shantytowns, or informal settlements, where the built environment doesn't benefit from land-use or safety regulations. Organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank Group predict the number of people living in shantytowns to hit 2 to 3 billion by 2050. In almost all of these areas, fire and fire death rates are staggeringly high.


But a project carried out in a shantytown in Cape Town, South Africa, last year offers hope. The project is the subject of a new NFPA Journal feature article and podcast available online now


In February 2017, about 2,000 off-the-shelf, battery-operated photoelectric smoke alarms were installed in a particularly at-risk neighborhood in a Cape Town shantytown known as Wallacedene. While some fire safety experts believed the alarms wouldn't work—their doubts were fueled by the thought that nuisance alarms would endlessly sound inside the neighborhood's small shacks, where cooking and heating equipment often generate smoke—the alarms proved immensely successful. 


"[They] reduced deaths to zero," said Rodney Eksteen, a former Western Cape fire official who coordinated the smoke alarm installation process. "In all the fire incidents that occurred in that community [in the time researchers monitored fires], there were no deaths. Zero."


Read the full article here.

Earlier this week I was in San Antonio, Texas to present at the Center for Campus Fire Safety’s Campus Fire Safety Forum about NFPA’s new standard, NFPA 3000, and its impact on the college and university community.

During my brief stay in the city, I couldn’t help but notice that there were electric scooters everywhere, randomly scattered throughout the city blocks and the many residents and tourists using them. This was the first time I had seen them in action. A quick google search showed that companies have brought these scooters to cities large and small throughout the United States, even in Quincy, MA, the location of NFPA Headquarters.

I had so many questions: Where are they permitted? Do they drive on the street or the sidewalk? Do they provide information to riders to not block fire lanes, fire hydrants, and building’s exit discharge routes? How do they charge?

The main business model of the companies bringing these scooters to cities is all app-based. Users create a profile with the company’s app and have access to the location of the scooters around cities. The app and a barcode will unlock the scooter and provide access, and same for drop off. There are no specific pick up or drop off locations, riders can zip around and pick up scooters and drop them off pretty much anywhere. At the end of the day, those that have been contracted by the company are paid by the scooter to pick up scooters that need charging, charge them at their residence, and return them throughout the city the next morning. From a technology and business perspective, this model is captivating to me. From a fire safety perspective, there a few considerations to make sure all those involved stay safe:

  • Charging the scooters. People who have signed up to “juice” the scooters, as one company refers to it, purchase chargers for the scooters and then get paid to charge them overnight. As people try to maximize profit, it could result in unsafe electrical practices. NFPA 1, Section 11.1 addresses electrical safety.
    • Relocatable power taps might be used to add extra capacity to the receptacle, however, they must be connected directly to a permanently installed receptacle. “Daisy-chaining” the power taps is not permitted, and should not be done to plug in multiple scooters.
    • Extension cords must also be plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap or multiplug adapter and can only serve one portable appliance.
  • Fire Department Access. This past fall, Baltimore, MD made the news for construction of a new bike lane network which was argued by the fire department to make some streets too narrow for fire apparatus access. The City Council voted to repeal a portion of the city’s fire code and replaced it with more flexible guidelines for street clearances. My understanding is, in San Antonio, scooters can be used on the sidewalk or the street, whatever is deemed to be safest by the scooter rider. Like bicycles use, what additional considerations are needed in cities to accommodate scooters? Could their use impede fire department access?
    • NFPA 1, Section 18.2 addresses fire department access. It requires fire department access roads be provided for every facility, building, or portion of a building constructed or relocated. The required width and clearance of the access cannot be obstructed in any way, including the parking of vehicles. It would be a good practices for scooter riders to be aware of fire department access and not drop off scooters in fire lanes and other access areas.
  • Means of Egress. An occupant’s means of egress from a building includes exit access travel, the exit and then the exit discharge. Exit discharge takes occupants from their exit to the public way (usually outside the building.) Scooters may be piling up near building’s exterior doors or in a path of exit discharge unknown to the rider.
    • NFPA 1, Section 14.4.1 requires means of egress be continuously maintained free of all obstructions or impediments to full instant use in the case of fire or other emergency.
  • Batteries. Just a couple weeks ago, one scooter manufacturer announced they had to remove 2,000 scooters from their fleet in Los Angeles due to the threat of the batteries catching fire. Lithium-ion battery fires are something that many industries continue to address and the electric scooters are no different. Lithium-ion battery fires are unique and cannot and should not be extinguished by an untrained consumer. They can cause problems for fire fighters as well. Chapter 52 of NFPA 1 is constantly evolving to address larger type energy storage systems and the storage of batteries.

Is the risk of fires and impaired fire safety with electric scooters all that high? Not terribly, but there is a risk. Are their practices that must be considered in order to operate a safe business for riders, chargers, AHJs and city officials so that fire safety does not become even greater of a risk? Absolutely.

Does your city have dockless, electric scooters? How is your jurisdiction managing them? Have you seen any issues that have impacted fire safety such as fire department access?

Thank you for reading, stay safe!

Please visit to view the free access version of NFPA 1 2018 edition. Follow along on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. Looking for an older #FireCodefriday blog? You can view past posts here.


The number of firefighters injured in the line of duty in 2017 was the lowest since NFPA began analyzing this data in 1981.


That’s one of the findings in the summary of a new NFPA report, “U.S. Firefighter Injuries in 2017,” that appears in the new November/December issue of NFPA Journal.


The report found that an estimated 58,835 firefighter injuries occurred in the line of duty last year, a decrease of 5 percent compared to the previous year and the lowest number observed in more than three and a half decades of studying this data.


Firefighters were more likely to be injured at fireground operations than at other types of duties, according to the report. In 2017, 24,495 injuries, or 42 percent of all reported firefighter injuries, occurred at the fireground. Another 12,240 firefighter injuries occurred at non-fire emergencies. Additionally, 9,165 firefighter injuries occurred during other on-duty activities, 8,380 injuries occurred during training activities, and 4,555 injuries occurred while responding to or returning from an incident.


The November/December issue of the magazine also includes a summary of the “Large-Loss Fires and Explosions in 2017” report.   

On the evening of November 7, 1918, at 6:30PM, a fire started in the vicinity of the wing coating building of the Burgess Aeroplane Factory in Marblehead, MA. The Fire quickly spread to all of the buildings at the facility and to a boat yard nearby. The loss was almost absolute.
The wing coating building or “Dope Shed” was where wings were coated in a nitro-cellulose compound called “dope”. The wings were then left to dry in the open room. Ventilation was provided by a motor-driven airplane propeller that sucked “air from the main room and the space under the floor through registers directly out of doors.”
While the cause of the fire is unknown, three probable causes were put forth at the time:
  •  About a month prior to the incident, a fire was found in a 100-pile of coal in a fire-resistive bin in the boiler room. This coal was then carted outside and piled against the Wing Coating Building. It is possible that this coal may have heated once more spontaneously, and raised the temperature on the inside of the building as well;
  •  Oily rags may have spontaneously caught fire inside the building… although the foreman insisted that he personally collected all rags the previous night;
  • The fire may have been caused by incendiarism or arson. When a premature rumor spread through the area, employees left work at 2PM to celebrate Allied victory and the end of World War I (Germany did not formally surrender to the Allies until November 11, 1918.) The employees straggled back to the facility around 4PM, but were discharged for the day. Someone might have chosen to have a bonfire or the fire might have been set to show displeasure…
Because of the highly flammable nature of the materials and the events of the time, the real cause of the fire is unlikely to ever be known for sure.
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please contact 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 following two proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 31, Standard for the Installation of Oil-Burning Equipment; and NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems, are being published for public review and comment:



Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the November 29, 2018 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.
Image ideas?


Train accidents don't always happen but when they do they can have devastating consequences and challenge even the most astute first responders because fuels can often flow, pool, saturate, and burn for days.


A new webinar on High Hazard Flammable Train (HHFT) fire incidents, hosted by NFPA and conducted by Jensen Hughes researchers, is now available for a limited time (the next 30 days) for Xchange registered users. 


Insights shared stem from the Fire Protection Research Foundation study looking at HHFT fire event data and fire suppression information, and information gathered from available literature, technical response reports, and incident analysis. The webinar considers the initial obstacles that firefighters encounter when arriving on the scene of an HHFT event, including the need to quickly identify the number of cars and train contents while the intensity of the flames and breadth of the fire grows. The "unknowns" swiftly coincide with the harsh realities of fire - spread, radiant heat and pressure - making it next to impossible for firefighters to get close to the flames. Foam and water during these intense moments, are generally ineffective due to evaporation.

When the fire decreases, first responders can tackle the smoke and flames that have been contained in individual cars. During this extinguishment or equilibrium phase, responders can effectively apply foam and begin overhaul. This is all in a day's work for firefighters but the heat release, thermal stress, tears, pressure relief venting, and other issues that often present initially in train crashes involving ethanol, crude oil, petroleum, denatured alcohol, and/or a combination of fuels are a whole other story, worth learning about.

The full webinar recording is available for free for a limited time to all registered users of Xchange. You can find it here.

If you explore any issue deeply enough you’re bound to find some unexpected nuance and complexity, especially when it comes to questions about fire and life safety. But rarely have I reported a story for NFPA Journal that unsurfaced so many different and unexpected questions as the November/December cover story “Critter Life Safety Code.”


The article details the development of NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code, which is the first code of its kind to tackle animal housing safety in depth. What seems simple on the surface quickly turns into a thick web of thorny moral, ethical, and technical issues.


For instance, in some industries animals are commodities and their destiny is a dinner plate. Do they demand the same protections as other animals? If not, where do you draw the line? Should a chicken on a farm be treated differently than a gorilla in a zoo, or a rat in a lab?


On top of those tricky moral questions are the vast technical challenges that animal facilities present. Different species can exhibit very different, as well as unpredictable, behavior. Survivable conditions in a fire can also vary dramatically between species; smaller animals, for example, generally succumb to smoke faster than larger ones. The number and variety of facilities is immense. A zoo is much different than a chicken house, which is much different than a dog kennel, or an animal research lab at a university. How do you provide guidance for each of these seemingly limitless possibilities? On top of that, how do you balance human safety with animal safety in these facilities during an emergency?


All of these questions, coupled with the NFPA 150 committee’s wide range of stakeholders—animal rights advocates debating alongside livestock industry groups—and it’s no wonder that NFPA engineer Tracy Vecchiarelli called the creation of NFPA 150 “probably one of the most interesting and complex exercises I’ve ever had as a staff liaison working on a document.”


To learn much more about the guidance offered in NFPA 150 as well as how the committee squared its differences, please read the cover story in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal, “Critter Life Safety Code.”

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) for the 2018 edition of NFPA 1964, Standard for Spray Nozzles, is being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the December 6, 2018 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.

A few weeks ago I was visiting my alma mater, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and got to check out a brand new building that had just opened on campus the week before. As I entered the front of the building I noticed a sign welcoming visitors/residents/students to the “makerspace”. I know this is not a new concept but the word as well as the concept seem to be growing in popularity. Since then I feel like I have heard about makerspaces (also referred to as “hackerspaces”) in office building, at colleges and universities, and even in K-12 schools. Perhaps its is an existing concept but used more recently to market facility designs as collaborative, modern, innovative and entrepreneurial.

So, what exactly is a makerspace?

A quick search online finds one definition of makerspace to be “a place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge”. The development of makerspaces grew from the maker culture which leans heavily on the idea that learning is done through doing (ironically the WPI motto of theory and practice is very much in line with the maker culture). Whether for employees, students, researchers or scientists, these spaces promote collaboration with a hands-on experience in an inspiring and innovative environment. And they are popping up all around us!


How does NFPA 1 apply to a makerspace?

When I saw this makerspace in person I asked myself, “how would the Code apply to such a unique space?” (I am not sure that’s the first question on everyone’s mind, but it was on mine.) From a Fire Code perspective there are a number of things to consider. First, what is the occupancy classification of the space.? Chapter 6 of NFPA 1 addresses occupancy classification. A makerspace could fall under a few options: industrial, assembly or educational occupancies are the ones that come to mind. Further understanding of how the space is used (Is it instructional or industrial? Will there be any hazardous materials present as part of laboratory type work or experiments?); if it is part of a larger overall space (Is it incidental to an industrial use to an assembly area or office building, for example?); and what occupants will be present there (K-12, more than 50, college level, for example) will help to classify the occupancy of the space appropriately.

Let’s talk more about the building at WPI that I referenced above.

There are many different types of spaces included in the building. Prototyping lab, multiple active learning classrooms (group learning, moveable furnishings), teaching laboratory (including a robotics lab and the makerspace), a gallery, a video recording suite, counter service food vendors, and a multi-story dormitory on the upper levels. Phew, that’s a lot. It most certainly was designed as a dormitory since that is the predominant occupancy in the building and then the final occupancy of the first two levels is dependent on a further analysis of how the space is used and occupied. The makerspace is part of the teaching laboratory and open to most of the floor. The Code guides users to business occupancies for instructional type laboratories. But, if part of a larger ‘gallery’ space or on a floor which may also include multiple college classrooms of 50 or more people the designer may have included the makerspace into the assembly occupancy space, and applied the Code as necessary. Occupancy classification determines how the remainder of the Code is applicable as much of the codes provisions for life safety, egress design, and fire protection systems are occupancy dependent.

Besides occupancy classification, other provisions of NFPA 1 unique to makerspaces include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Chapter 26 for laboratories using chemicals. Where the makerspace includes laboratory facilities that use chemicals the handling and storage of such chemicals would comply with Chapter 26 which mandates compliance with NFPFA 45.
• Chapter 60 for hazardous materials. Where the makerspace contains high hazard contents, it and its contents must comply with Chapter 60 of NFPA 1 and any additional requirements specific to the materials from Chapters 61 through 75.
• Chapter 20 for occupancy-specific provisions related to interior finish, furnishings and contents and operating features.
• Chapter 13 for occupancy-specific provisions related to fire protection systems.
• Section 14.8 for capacity of the means of egress. Egress design and occupant load calculations should make sure to carefully understand how the makerspace is used so that the correct number of people present in the space can be estimated.

Makerspaces are only going to become more and more popular in new building design and even as existing buildings modernize their space. Today we seem to put a lot more emphasis on collaboration, innovation, openness and sharing, all of which are supported by the makerspace model. If your jurisdiction is responsible for enforcing the Code or reviewing new makerspace designs, I hope you will find this discussion helpful in your work ahead.

Thank you for reading, stay safe!

Please visit to view the free access version of NFPA 1 2018 edition. Follow along on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. Looking for an older #FireCodefriday blog? You can view past posts here.

To those in the electrical field, NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace is “the source” when it comes to keeping workers safe on the job. In the 2018 edition, the standard takes safety one step further by introducing human error as a factor in assessing the likelihood of an incident. 
At NFPA’s 2018 Conference & Expo, Paul Zoubek of Zoubek Consulting, LLC, and an NFPA member, explains that to assess risk, qualified persons must be familiar with human performance concepts as they pertain to risk, as well as other factors that affect the likelihood variable. One of the great features to the 2018 edition of 70E, he says, is the creation of a simplified matrix that exists in one of the Annexes that guides workers through this process with the goal of establishing a safe work condition. Zoubeck explains it this way:
Mr. Zoubek went on to say that in previous editions of 70E, emphasis was placed on job briefings, but the 2018 edition puts the focus on job planning. Understanding the risk before being on the job, Zoubek says, helps determine the likelihood of an arc flash taking place and provides employers and employees an opportunity to put controls in place with the ultimate goal of eliminating employee exposure to electrical hazards. When it comes to establishing an electrically safe work condition, the standard, he says, just keeps getting better and better. Hear why Zoubek believes everyone in the electrical industry should consider the requirements in the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E: 


Ultimately, said Zoubek, there will always be risk on the job, but the key is how much we are willing and able to mitigate it. The 2018 edition of 70E provides the means to which we can ultimately help save lives. 

If you like this post, you might be interested in this related NFPA Journal article. For more information about the 2018 edition of 70E, visit
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to ALL the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo education session audio & video files? If you’re interested in NFPA 70E but couldn’t attend all of the related sessions, you can browse the full list here. If you're not currently an NFPA member, join today!

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