The following two proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code; and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, are being published for public review and comment:
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the January 29, 2020 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.
Glittering decorations, holiday meals and treats, enjoying the warmth of home on a wintry day – these are hallmarks of the holiday season. However, these traditions and festivities also present an increased risk of fire, making December a leading month for U.S. home fires. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are two of the top three days for home cooking fires and the top two days for home candle fires.
Home fires that began when decorations caught fire caused an average of three civilian deaths, 34 civilian fire injuries and $12 million in direct property damage per year from 2013 to 2017. In 44 percent of these fires, the decoration was too close to a heat source. Fifty-seven percent of December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to 32 percent in January through November. In addition, December is the peak month for candle fires. Sixty percent of home candle fires started because a flammable item was too close to the candle. In 13 percent of the fires, the candle was left unattended or abandoned.
Christmas tree fires are not as common as fires started by other decorations, but when they do occur, they are much more likely to be serious. An annual average of 160 home fires began with Christmas trees. On average, one of every 52 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 135 total reported home fires. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in more than two of every five (44 percent) home Christmas tree fires, with decorative lights the leading type of equipment involved.
Cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires year-round; unattended cooking is the leading cause of these fires, accounting for 31 percent of home cooking fires. Christmas Day is the second-leading day for home cooking fires, with 69 percent more fires than the average daily number. Christmas Eve is not far behind, with 58 percent more fires than the daily average.
Heating: Heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires, with nearly half of all home heating fires occurring in December, January and February. The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (27 percent) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys. Most home heating fire deaths (86 percent) involved stationary or portable space heaters. In the majority of these deaths, something that could catch fire was too close to the heater.
All that noted, there's no need to be bah humbug about the holidays! Once you know where potential hazards exist, there are many simple steps you can take to ensure a festive, fire-safe season, and we’ve got plenty of them! Check out our tips and resources at www.nfpa.org/holiday.
Fire protection systems are increasingly networked to Building Control Systems (BCS), Internet of Things (IoT), and other platforms that are, by design or oversight, exposed to the public-facing Internet. This emerging environment could lead to unique and novel cyber vulnerabilities, and attacks on fire protection systems have the potential to have significant consequences. However, a thorough understanding of cybersecurity issues related to fire protection systems is lacking. The expansiveness of these vulnerabilities, the severity of the consequences, and the awareness of the fire protection community of these vulnerabilities is not well understood.
The Fire Protection Research Foundation recently distributed a new “Request for Proposals” for a project contractor to address this issue. The goal of this current project is to assess the cybersecurity threats of fire protection systems connected to BCS, IoT, and other potential Internet-facing platforms.
Please see the attached PDF for the scope of work or go to the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s website at www.nfpa.org/foundation for more information. Please submit your proposals by January 10, 2020 at 5:00pm EST.
At NFPA, we receive a lot of questions about health care occupancies. In particular, one area that I receive frequent questions about is the application of means of egress requirements in health care suites.
To understand the means of egress requirements within suites, it can be helpful to review the overall occupant protection strategy utilized in hospitals and other health care occupancies. Due to the potential difficulties of evacuation of occupants in health care occupancies a defend-in-place strategy is often utilized. The defend-in-place strategy must account for a plan to relocate patients, should the need arise. The features and floor space arrangements, including the configuration of suites, must also be factored in. NFPA 101recognizes two types of patient-care suites in health care occupancies: sleeping suites and non-sleeping suites. The Code also has permissions for non-patient care suites, but those suites do not have suite-specific means of egress requirements and are not addressed in this blog.
Suites are a unique feature to health care occupancies and have some original means of egress requirements. To fully achieve the convenience and benefits afforded by suites it is important to understand the differing means of egress requirements.
In general, the means of egress requirements for sleeping suites and non-sleeping suites are similar. Both types of suites are required to have at least one exit access door from the suite either to a corridor or a horizontal exit. Since the protection strategy in health care often relies on the horizontal movement, the use of stairways or other vertical openings is generally used as a last resort for the relocation of occupants.
A second exit access door is required to be provided for sleeping suites greater than 1000 sq. ft. or non-sleeping suites greater than 2500 sq. ft. The second means of egress is permitted to include exit stairway doors, exterior doors, or an exit access door to an adjacent suite.
Suites are required to meet two separate travel distances: (1) travel distance to the nearest exit access door from the suite and (2) travel distance to the nearest exit.
Travel distance from any point within a suite cannot exceed 100 ft. to the nearest exit access door from the suite. Only exit access doors leading to a corridor or adjacent suite, or horizontal exit doors are given credit for this travel distance measurement. As previously discussed, since health care relies upon the horizontal movement of occupants this measurement only applies to exit access doors to areas where occupants can be relocated. Where exit access from a suite goes through an adjacent suite, the 100 ft. travel distance should be applied to each suite individually.
The second travel distance is exit travel distance. Travel distance from any point within a suite cannot exceed 200 ft. to the nearest exit in sprinkler-protected buildings (or 150 ft in non-sprinkler-protected buildings). This measurement is permitted to be to any exit door including an exit stairway door, a horizontal exit door, or an exterior door. This requirement aligns with the overall exit travel distance for the remainder of the health care occupancy.
The use of suites is just one tool withinNFPA 101that can be applied to hospital design to deliver effective health care and treatment. However, when using suites, it is important to understand the unique means of egress requirements.
Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”
A view from inside a waiting room at University Hospital in Ostrava, Czech Republic, where Tuesday morning a gunman killed six people in the country's deadliest mass shooting since 2015. Image Capture: Aug 2017, Copyright 2017 Google
A shooting in a hospital waiting room in the city of Ostrava, Czech Republic, left six people dead this morning, the New York Times reported.
The shooter, a 42-year-old man, killed himself as officers closed in. It was the deadliest shooting in the country since 2015, when a gunman killed eight at a restaurant.
The incident highlights the risk of active shooter or other hostile events occurring in hospitals—something emergency management officials have been concerned over for some time.
"We're wide open. We don't run you through a metal detector on the way in," Michael Marturano, safety officer for a health care system in Duluth, Minnesota, said of hospitals during a November 2017 interview with NFPA Journal. "Surgery's locked down, the birthing center is locked down, but the other 80 percent of the building is pretty open. You've got sales people coming in, family members coming in, you've got meetings with a lot of community folks, and they need to get in."
My interview with Marturano served as the Perspectives article for the January/February issue of NFPA Journal. Our conversation covered the importance of preparing health care facilities for situations involving active shooters, some of the challenges involved with the training, and measures health care workers can take to stay safe in active shooter events.
In the nearly three years since our interview, advancements in preparing for active shooter and other hostile events have been made—most notably, NFPA 3000 (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, was released in May 2018.
But the risk of such an event occurring in a hospital has pretty much stayed in the same. In June 2017, a disgruntled doctor opened fire with an AR-15 at a hospital in New York City, killing one doctor and wounding six others. In November 2018, three people were killed in a mass shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago. Next month, the city of Augusta, Georgia, will embark on a yearlong journey to implement NFPA 3000 throughout its community, and the risk of a shooting occurring in one of the area's three hospitals will be a major consideration for project leaders. You'll be able to read more about this project when the January/February issue of NFPA Journal is published in the coming weeks.
While active shooter events in hospitals aren't that common in the US—only seven occurred from 2000 to 2015, according to data from Texas State University's Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center—they can be a huge headache for hospital emergency planners, said John Montes, the NFPA staff liaison to NFPA 3000.
"They have to worry about having an incident on their site, but they are also part of any incident that occurs in the area because they receive the victims," he said. "They are part of that recovery process and response process. It can be very complicated for them to plan."
Lately there has been discussion about the topic of recertification in the fire service in some industry publications, and there seems to be some confusion or misperceptions about our recent activity. Here is the history and the current status.
In the summer of 2016, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Research Foundation), the independent research affiliate of NFPA, received a request to conduct a study on fire services professional qualifications and recertification requirements. The proposal asked for a review of the existing processes that are in place for emergency personnel to demonstrate their level of competency against a certain credentialing benchmark. It also requested recommendations for implementing and enforcing a proficiency system on a local, state, and national level.
The Research Foundation undertook this project in 2018. This overall effort entailed two deliverables: (1) The research report which has been available online since September 2019, and (2) the workshop proceedings which have now been finalized and are available on the Research Foundation’s website.
The research project
The contractor for this project was FireTox, LLC. They were selected through the Research Foundation’s open RFP process in accordance with our policies, and were chosen to conduct the research with a goal of identifying, comprehending, and reviewing the current fire service training and certification climate. As part of the project, approaches used by parallel professions (EMS, law enforcement, nurses, and teachers) were assessed and a continuing education model was developed. Fire service members were then surveyed to determine how implementation of that model would impact them and their organization.
The new research report was used to facilitate conversation between interested stakeholders and fire service representatives at an October workshop at NFPA headquarters.
The following was considered during the workshop:
The goal was not to reach consensus on any of the issues that were discussed. Instead, the objective was to gather threshold information that can be used as guidance.
This project and workshop did not, and could not, change any information in any NFPA standard. Changes can only be made to NFPA documents through the Standards Development process.
NFPA 1000 Standard for Fire Service Professional Qualifications Accreditation and Certification Systems has just begun the next revision cycle. Several Public Inputs (recommended changes) were submitted for the next edition of NFPA 1000 by the stated closing date of November 15, 2019.
All recommended changes from the public will now be reviewed by the Technical Committee at their First Draft Meeting to be held January 27-28 in Orlando, Florida. Only at that point, during the First Draft meeting, will any proposed changes to NFPA 1000 be developed by the Technical Committee. Proposed changes to NFPA 1000 that pass ballot by the Technical Committee will then be open for public review and comment. The Technical Committee will ultimately meet in November 2020 to review and act on all submitted Public Comments during the Second Draft Meeting. It is anticipated that the next edition of NFPA 1000 will be the 2022 edition, which will be released in late 2021.
To stay up to date on all activities related to NFPA 1000, visit nfpa.org/1000. Click on the “Receive Email Alerts”. To review the Public Inputs that were submitted for NFPA 1000, click on the “Next Edition” tab, then click “View Public Inputs”. This will provide you with access to all the recommended document changes that were submitted by the public. Additional information, including where the document is in the process, and pertinent dates can also be accessed by clicking on that Next Edition tab. You will also find the link to the First Draft Meeting details on that page.
NFPA technical meetings are always open to the public. Any individual can attend. In fact, active participation in our process is the best way for you to ensure that your voice is heard. It also provides you with the greatest opportunity to effect change that will enhance the firefighting profession, as it moves forward. If you would like your voice to be heard on this topic, or any NFPA standard, please participate in the standards development process. As always, we are here to help if you have any questions or we can be of any assistance – simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Research Foundation also undertook a project on the topic of maintaining proficiencies for the fire service that entailed two deliverables – a research report and workshop proceedings which are available on the Research Foundation’s website.
The following two proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) on the 2018 and proposed 2021 editions to NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health, and Wellness Program, are being published for public review and comment:
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the January 6, 2020 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date
NFPA has issued the following errata on the 2018 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code; and the 2020 edition of NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting:
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.