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As an editor and writer for NFPA Journal, I frequently research topics that are objectively depressing. Fatal fires, catastrophic incidents, natural and man-made disasters, you name it. In the vast majority of cases, though, the tragedy du jour happened despite best intentions. There was no ill-will; nobody wanted something bad to happen. Sadly, that isn’t the case with the January/February NFPA Journal cover story, “The Toll of Violence.”

 

When you talk to EMS personnel and read incident reports, it’s truly shocking to hear the horror stories of the violence most have suffered at the hands of their patients—the people they are trying to help. Across the world, when EMTs and paramedics rush out to provide help, they are increasingly met with fists, insults, spit, teeth, kicks, and threats, far from the gratitude I think most people would expect. For many, a career that started as an earnest desire to do good has turned into a kind of hell. Too many responders, I learned, are wrought with anxiety, depression, and fear; some have become so jaded that they no longer care about the patients they serve.  

 

“First responders have higher rates of suicide and substance abuse than the rest of the population, and people are asking why,” John Montes, an NFPA employee and longtime Boston paramedic told me for the story. “It’s the concept of death by a thousand papercuts, and those assaults are big papercuts. People are starting to see this as a big issue, and it’s finally starting to be brought out into the light.”

 

The good news is that the increasing exposure of this problem has resulted for the first time in real efforts to learn more about why violence against responders happens so frequently, as well as efforts to come up with strategies to reduce it. In reporting this story, I spoke with leaders in EMS, police, and fire, as well as academics, researchers, and responders themselves. They paint a frightening picture of what it’s like to run calls in today’s world, the strain it causes, and where we are headed if we don’t do something to lighten the load (hint: it’s not good).

 

This issue is important on so many levels, not just for the humans on the other end of those punches, but for the entire emergency system our society relies on. I would encourage you to read “The Toll of Violence” to learn much more about what’s happening and why. For a more in-depth look at the research being done at Drexel University to try to better understand the issue, and to enact strategies to help responders, read my accompanying piece, “Responder Advocate.” Both are in the new January/February issue of NFPA Journal.

The January 2019 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.
You'll find in this issue:
  • New project on Fuel Gases Detection
  • New/reorganized projects seeking members for Portable Fire Extinguishers, Spaceports, and Remote Inspections
  • Proposed Tentative Interim Amendments seeking comments on NFPA 58 and NFPA 1221
  • TIAs issued on NFPA 52, NFPA 58, NFPA 59, NFPA 221, NFPA 260, NFPA 1971, and NFPA 5000
  • Errata issued on NFPA 10 and NFPA 58
  • Committees seeking members
  • Committees seeking public input and public comment
  • 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. 

 

What do you think of when you hear the phrase protective equipment? Many of you likely went right to clothing but protective equipment is anything used to protect the employee from injury. Clothing, hard hats, multi-meters, hand tools and insulating blankets are all equipment that provide protection for the employee. For each of these to achieve that goal they must be properly maintained. An employer is responsible for assuring that appropriate protective equipment is provided to the employee. It is relatively easy for the employer to purchase and verify that equipment is compliant and suitably rated. What happens after the equipment is issued for use is more difficult to track. However, all that equipment must be verified to provide the necessary protection whether the equipment was purchased yesterday or ten years ago.


An employer must have a well-documented policy for the handling of each piece of protective equipment. It is equally important to provide proper inspection training for employees using the equipment. How to inspect an arc-rated suit is entirely different from inspecting voltage rated gloves. Transportation, on-site conditions, and rugged use necessitate an inspection immediately prior to use. A general rule is that protective equipment be inspected before each use. Visual inspection often provides the first sign that protective equipment may not perform as necessary. If the equipment is defective or suspect in any way it must be brought back into compliance before use.


Equipment that is used infrequently must be maintained just as equipment that is used daily. Insulation properties can be effected by time, storage method or atmospheric conditions. Annual calibration of a multi-meter typically does not verify proper insulation. Some equipment may be kept in a common area for use by several employees, some may be issued to individual employees, some may be purchased by the employee, and some may be leased. All this equipment requires appropriate scheduling to be properly maintained in order to protect the employee. For the most part, proper maintenance is directed by the equipment manufacturer. Who performs the maintenance is often the choice of the purchaser. The selection is critical since an employee will be at risk of injury if the equipment is not properly maintained.


What about the protective clothing? More expensive gear like an arc-rated suit may be purchased and maintained by the employer. But every day arc-rated shirts and pants may be the employee’s responsibility to purchase as well as maintain. Rips and tears must be properly repaired. Contaminated gear may be prone to catastrophic failure. Laundering must be done in the correct cycle and temperature as well as with appropriate detergent. If anything is done incorrectly, the protection may not be there when needed. An employer is responsible for protecting an employee. This is true regardless of who is maintaining the protective gear. What is your company’s policy and procedure for the maintaining equipment used to protect you?


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


Next time: NFPA 70E Second Draft.


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.

Calling all data system developers! NFPA is looking to procure the professional services of an established firm (alone or in partnership with other firms) with successful experience designing and implementing comprehensive digital solutions for public safety data.  This project is part of a Federal grant-funded activity and will build upon and expand the National Fire Data Systeminfrastructure, specifically around the integration of community risk reduction activity data into other types of fire service activity data.
The intent of this RFP is to solicit proposals for the further development and expansion of an existing Amazon Web Services (AWS)-based data infrastructure to ingest, store, and export community risk reduction activity data from fire departments and other fire service entities. The emphasis for this project is upon improving and expediting data sharing through the development of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and extensible Extraction, Transformation, & Load (ETL) processes based upon a standardized data sharing format utilizing knowledge graphs.    
Please see the attached PDF for more information. Submit your proposals by February 15, 2019 at 5:00pm EST.

Today’s post is from NFPA staff, Jennifer Sisco. Jen is a Fire Protection Engineer in the Building and Life Safety Department where she serves as Staff Liaison to multiple NFPA Technical Committees. Special thanks to Jen for her contribution!


For those of us who live in locations where the winter season means snow, ice, and cold; it can also mean seasonal fire and life safety hazards that can impact the responsibilities of building owners, facility managers, and fire inspectors.


NFPA 1 requires that the means of egress be maintained free of obstruction or impediments to ensure full instant use; and states that site administrators and staff are responsible for inspecting all egress areas to stairways, doors, and other exits to ensure that they are in proper condition. The annex further clarifies that this includes keeping the means of egress and all components clear of snow and ice. Drifting, plowed, or falling snow can make exterior doors difficult to open or make an exit impassible. Likewise, ice on exterior stairways and walkways can pose a significant life safety hazard.


In addition to blocking means of egress, snow can also impact fire department road access - reducing widths, blocking gates, or rendering roadways impenetrable. Fire department access roads, including gateways, need to remain unobstructed. NFPA 1 recognizes that this may be difficult in some areas with extreme snowfalls and that temporary alternative arrangements may need to be made, including temporary roadways as a result of snow accumulation. If it is anticipated that temporary alternate measures may be required, they should be coordinated in advance of snow events, whenever possible.


Winter conditions can prompt power outages which also correlate to increased carbon monoxide-related injuries and deaths. Carbon monoxide is responsible for tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths annually in the United States, alone. Portable generators are a major contributor to carbon monoxide injuries and deaths, typically due to generators being operated in a garage, basement, or other indoor space. NFPA 1 states that generators never be operated inside a building, unless they are in a specifically designed generator room; and that they should be located at least 5 feet away from all building openings and air intakes with the exhaust directed away from the building.


Even in areas not prone to snow, cold temperatures have the ability to freeze piping for sprinkler systems or other water-based suppression systems. Frozen pipes are not only a concern for exterior piping, as piping within buildings in unconditioned spaces, near building openings, or in buildings with heating system impairments can also be subject to freezing. In accordance with NFPA 1, property owners are responsible for ensuring that all water-filled piping is maintained above 40˚F or provided with some other form of freeze protection. In areas that have the potential for freezing temperatures below the level that can be adequately protected by an allowable antifreeze solution, supplemental heat can be provided when temperatures fall below the level of the antifreeze solution. Other means of freeze protection for water-filled piping, including heated valve enclosures, heat tracing, insulation, or other methods are allowed by the applicable installation standards.


Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures can pose hazards to fire and life safety, but many of the hazards can be mitigated with a little preparation by building owners and facility managers; and enforced by those inspecting the property. Preparation and management of winter-related fire and life safety issues referenced in the Fire Code are critical to staying safe in the cold weather.


NFPA offers free resources on winter fire safety, as well as free infographics on a number of topics included winter fires and safe electrical practices. You can also find reports, data and statistics on winter related fire safety issues on www.nfpa.org.


Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

Don't miss another #FireCodefridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

At its December 2018 meeting, the NFPA Standards Council voted to disband the current Technical Committee on Portable Fire Extinguishers and requested that a new Committee be established. This Committee will be responsible for NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, and NFPA 408, Standard for Aircraft Hand Portable Fire Extinguishers.
If you are interested in participating in standards development addressing portable fire extinguishers as a technical committee member, please submit an application by February 27, 2019:   submit application online*
*Please note:   You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using the application system.  
Save the date for  SUPDET®  2019, which will be held September 17-20, 2019 at the  Crowne Plaza Denver City Center in Denver, CO!   Since 1997, the Research Foundation has organized SUPDET (Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium), an annual symposium that brings together leading experts in the field of fire protection engineering for the purpose of sharing recent research and development on techniques used for fire suppression, detection, and signaling.  These events are generally attended by a variety of fire protection professionals, such as engineers, researchers, insurers, designers, manufacturers, installers and AHJs.  
The Call for Papers is now open for this unique event.  Please submit your abstracts on new developments in research, technology, and applications for the fire protection community including the following topics.  Case studies are always welcome.
Detection and Signaling:
  • Multiple Sensor and Multiple Criteria Based Fire Detection
  • Power over Ethernet and Emerging Technologies
  • Home Smoke Alarm Applications 
  • Use of Data to Improve Performance/Effectiveness 
  • Wildfire Applications
Suppression:
  • Advancements in Protection of High Hazard Commodities
  • Developments to Address Environmental Concerns
  • Protection of Li-Ion Battery Energy Storage Systems
  • Reliability and Maintenance of Systems (including remote maintenance)
  • Advancements with Gaseous and Clean Agents 
Please submit your abstracts by email no later than March 15, 2019 to epeterson@nfpa.org.   Abstracts should be absent of commercial overtones, be based on good science, present objective and credible results, and be without inherent bias. Abstracts that do not meet these criteria will not be accepted. 
Abstracts will be reviewed by a program committee.  If selected, presenters will be asked to submit an extended abstract, at most 3 pages, for publication in the meeting program or, at the author’s option, a full paper. 
For more information on SUPDET - please visit our website: www.nfpa.org/supdet.

Getty Images

Last week, President Trump made headlines after threatening to cut off federal emergency aid to California as the state recovers from its worst wildfire season in history. The president made the threat via Twitter, saying funding would be cut unless California gets its "act together." He was referring to what he believes to be poor forest management strategies carried out in the state, according to the Washington Post
Trump's words didn't sit well with many people, including the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), who released a statement on the news. "This is yet another unimaginable attack on the dedicated professionals who put everything on the line, including their own homes, to protect their neighborhoods," IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said in the statement. "While our president is tweeting on the sidelines in DC, our fellow Americans 3,000 miles to the west are mourning loved ones, entire communities have been wiped off the map and thousands of people are still trying to figure out where they are going to call home."
In the new issue of NFPA Journal, four pieces shed light on the devastating wildfire season California experienced: "Old & In Harm's Way,"an article that explains how one fire in particular, the Camp Fire, became the state's deadliest and most destructive wildfire ever; "135 Minutes,"a Perspectives interview with a hospital official who helped facilitate the emergency evacuation of a health care facility during the Camp Fire; "California Burning,"a statistics-driven overview of the wildfire season in the Golden State; and "Why It Matters," the debut column from NFPA's Wildfire Division director on the importance of wildfire preparedness and prevention efforts. 
The most recent California wildfire season saw not only the largest-ever wildfire burn, the Mendocino Complex Fire, which torched an area over twice as large as New York City, but it also saw the deadliest ever, the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. At least one estimate put the economic impact of all the fires that burned in the state in 2018 at $400 billion.

Oxygen reduction (or hypoxic) systems are being used in warehouse facilities as an alternative to sprinkler protection. The basic principle of operation is to displace the ambient oxygen in an enclosed environment with one or more nitrogen generators.

 

The Research Foundation facilitated the project “Review of Oxygen Reduction Systems for Warehouse Storage Applications” as a literature review that helps clarify the current state of oxygen reduction system design and testing. The project also includes a gap analysis comparing current approaches to real-world applications.

 

To be held Thursday, February 7 at12:30-2:00 pm, the webinar will discuss findings on this effort. Presenters will include:

  • Dr. Patrick van Hees, Lund University
  • Dr. Brian Meacham, Meacham Associates
  • Martin Nilsson, Zurich Insurance
  • John Barton, Lund University

 

Register for the webinar todayVisit www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming NFPA webinars and archives. 

On January 8, 1911, a large conflagration destroyed the heart of the business district of Little Rock, Arkansas. The fire began in the firth story of a building occupied by the Hollenberg Music Company and spread quickly, first through the Jackson-Hanley Furniture Company and then into the buildings between the Jones Store and Sixth Street.
When the fire was discovered at three o’clock in the morning, flames were already shooting from the windows. The flames spread swiftly due to a strong wind from the north and firefighter efforts were greatly hindered by frozen water plugs and inadequate water pressure. The losses from this fire were ultimately estimated at around $473,000 at the time. 
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.
Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), laid down a new year’s challenge he calls “Ban the Ban” to others concerned about reducing home fire loss. In a recent articlein the organization’s newsletter he pointed out that while a number of jurisdictions had success in passing sprinkler requirements, others were held back by anti-sprinkler efforts. Lia spurred advocates to press on. He wrote, “How can we allow a ban on improving public safety?” Further saying, “We can’t afford to sit back and watch sprinkler codes blocked … Let’s unite behind this challenge.” The overarching theme for ban the ban is to work together to change the map pictured here to reflect stronger public safety. 
Lia outlined the key steps including developing an action plan, using the resources of the Fire Sprinkler Initiativeand the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalitionto bolster local efforts and participating in National Home Fire Sprinkler Day
As we head into the new year, take the time to read his full article and commit to making greater strides in 2019. 

Photo Courtesy of Liberty Mutual Insurance. 

Impact of freezing temperatures on sprinkler pipe. This ice plug was found in a sprinkler system in a freezer however,

pipes in cold areas of an unheated building could produce similar results.

 

The issue of temperature frequently comes up in discussions about sprinklers and sprinkler systems. Here at NFPA, we receive a great deal of questions related to the exposure of sprinkler systems to potentially freezing temperatures. So, given the time of year and declining temperatures across the country, it seemed like a good time to get cozy with sprinkler freeze-prevention methods.


When water freezes, it expands and can cause damage to pipe and fittings, and yes even to sprinklers themselves. Over the years, the solution to the freezing problem has been to use a dry pipe system, a preaction system, or some combination of the two. The costs associated with installing a dry pipe or preaction system; however, can be prohibitive and the price tag for maintaining these systems can be equally daunting so be sure to fully understand the advantages, disadvantages and bottom line for these solutions.


Then there’s the option of heat tracing. This approach is not as simple as it may appear to be, and may not be the best protection method because of the need for insulating the pipe and electronic supervision of the power to the heating element.


In recent years, the environmental problems associated with anti-freeze systems have been well-documented. Since 2013, NFPA 13 has limited the use of anti-freeze solutions to listed solutions only. There have not been any pre-mixed or concentrate solutions for anti-freeze in fire protection piping listed - until recently. NFPA employees are not inclined to provide specific product or manufacturer recommendations; however, a quick search for “Listed Anti-freeze” on the UL web-site shows a product that is currently available and capable of protecting piping in cold climates - so anti-freeze is making a comeback!


Whatever product or solution you decide to use, it’s important to remember to closely follow the listing and manufacturer’s instructions. Guidelines vary from product to product and often times vary from previously accepted practices. Misusing a listed product can be as dangerous as using an unlisted product; so be sure to use the right option and apply the right knowledge for maximum benefit and safety.


For example, NFPA 13 requires the use of an expansion chamber when using anti-freeze in a sprinkler system because fluids expand and contract due to varying temperatures. Figure 8.6.3.3 of the standard illustrates the appropriate arrangement of the expansion chamber and a backflow preventer (where required); while the manufacturer’s instructions should be used to determine the size of the expansion chamber. There are limitations to using anti-freeze in a system. System volume and limitations on the classification of occupancy or sprinkler type need to be considered. When using these chemicals, it is critical that the manufacturer’s instructions and listing limitations be followed.

 

As meteorologists warn, “Baby, it’s cold outside” and water cooler conversations center around tumbling temperatures – keep in mind that frigid weather can have a brutal impact on sprinkler systems. Look at systems, solutions, and safety in totality to ensure that the refrain, “Baby, it’s cold outside” is not followed by “darn, it’s wet inside” due to pipes bursting or sprinkler systems malfunctioning!

The Research Foundation has issued an RFP for a project contractor for the Prototype Fuel Load Survey Methodology research project. RFP is available on the Foundation website. The deadline for proposals is January 25 at 5pm Eastern.

Door gaps in health care facilities, life safety ramifications of emerging health care trends, and on-the-job violence experienced by first responders are among the highlights of the January/February 2019 NFPA Journal.

 

Our cover story on responder violence, “Lasting Impact,” is a sobering look at a problem that has historically been under reported and not well understood. Violence is a fact of life for emergency medical technicians and other first responders, many of whom are routinely threatened, assaulted, and verbally abused by the people they are ostensibly trying to assist. Responders say the abuse can add up “like a thousand paper cuts” and result in a severe psychological toll, affecting their behavior and their effectiveness in the field. Our story looks at ways this problem is finally emerging from the shadows, and at new research that is helping responders and departments acknowledge the issue and take steps to address it.

 

Our health care focus in this issue includes coverage of emerging health care issues—ranging from microhospitals to proton therapy facilities—and their associated safety considerations. Another health care feature looks at the potentially large implications of door gaps for health care facilities.

 

A pair of articles addresses the historically destructive wildfire that leveled much of Paradise, California, in November. Our lead “Dispatches” story, “Old & In Harm’s Way,” looks at how the town’s older demographic profile resulted in a population at much greater risk to a fast-moving wildfire, and how the Camp Fire had a disproportionate impact on those people in terms of deaths and injuries. In “135 Minutes,” our “Perspectives” topic in this issue, we interview an administrator at Feather River Hospital, located in Paradise, about how he helped organize a last-second evacuation of the hospital as the newly ignited Camp Fire mushroomed and began its devastating sweep through the town.

 

The January/February NFPA Journal is out now in print, online, and through the Journal app.

The 2019 edition of NFPA 20 and NFPA 14 Handbook is now available. To start, we changed the title of the NFPA 20 Handbook to Stationary Fire Pumps and Standpipe Systems Handbook to include NFPA 14. With the addition of NFPA 14 and commentary in one place, we’ve provided a complete handbook of all NFPA documents that establish water supply requirements for fixed suppression systems, regardless of the type of water supply.
Some of the top experts in the field have contributed to this edition of the handbook, Here's what you can also expect in the new edition:
  • An Overview of Pump Configurations provides examples of various types of fire pump configurations and explains the purpose of various components. A full-color diagram helps designers and engineers understand how multistage multiport pumps may eliminate the need for pumps in series, potentially saving money.
  • Summary of Technical Changes for NFPA 20 and NFPA 14
  • PART ONE NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, 2019 Edition, with Commentary
  • PART TWO NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems, 2016 Edition with commentary
  • PART THREE Water Supply Requirements, Water Demand, Hydrants, Tanks, and Piping
    • Section 1 Complete Text of NFPA® 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants, 2019 Edition, with Commentary
    • Section 2 Complete Text of NFPA® 24, Standard for the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains and Their Appurtenances, 2019 Edition, with Commentary
    • Section 3 Sections 18.4 and 18.5 NFPA® 1, Fire Code, 2018 Edition with Commentary
    • Section 4 Extracts from NFPA® 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection, 2018 Edition with Commentary
And so much more!
Update your knowledge fast with this comprehensive one-stop source for system designers, installers, contractors, engineers, facility managers, inspectors, and AHJs. (Hardbound, 1005 pp., 2019)

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