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The audio distribution industry has exploded in recent years due to the trend towards open-office concepts. But with the recent adoptions of NFPA 72, Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and the development of UL 2572 certification of mass notification systems, audio distribution is also fast becoming a potential life safety concern.

 

At NFPA’s 2018 Conference & Expo, Jonathan Leonard, president of Lencore Accoustics Corp. and an NFPA member, discussed five important tips that professionals should keep in mind when designing mass notification systems to help keep people safe. Listen in as Jonathan explains what you need to know:

 

 

Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members have access to all 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo education session recordings, including this one? Learn more about audio distribution and mass notification technologies by watching Mr. Leonard’s full session video and browse the full list of additional education sessions here.

For more information about NFPA 72, and related codes and standards, visit www.nfpa.org/72.

The revision process for the 2021 edition of NFPA 101 is currently underway. In my recent NFPA live, I offered viewers a preview of some of the key subjects for which revisions are being considered in advance of the posting of the First Draft, on which the public will have the opportunity to submit public comments.
I provided a brief overview of the revision process for NFPA 101, a synopsis of some of the key first revisions to be included in the First Draft, how to get more involved in the NFPA 101 revision process, and an overview of how to stay on top of potential revisions. I received a follow-up question from a member and included it in the video below. I hope you find some value in it.
NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Questionservice. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!

Associated Press

The opening image of "Cutting Edge," a feature article in the current issue of NFPA Journal, might look like something out of a sci-fi movie, but in actuality, the photo shows a woman undergoing an increasingly common form of cancer treatment: proton therapy. 
The construction of proton therapy centers is one of three emerging health care trends the article identifies as topics fire and life safety professionals should be aware of. The other two are microhospitals and acuity-adaptable patient rooms. While all three promise something beneficial to patients, they also have the potential to affect the application of codes and standards, the design and construction process, and emergency response. 
Microhospitals, for example, may look like urgent care facilities on the outside, but building code officials should know they need to be treated like a traditional hospital and have the same safety measures in place, such as robust backup electrical power systems. "They should still be treated like an inpatient facility where patients are expected to be incapable of self-preservation and where they would stay for more than 24 hours," said Jon Hart, the NFPA staff liaison to NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code
Read the full article here.

Can classroom doors be locked to prevent an intruder from entering? Can a fire alarm system be disabled to prevent it from being used to draw people outside? These are among the more frequently asked questions we’ve received from school administrators and community officials working to protect their schools from acts of targeted violence.

 

While the response to these types of questions is fairly straightforward and direct from the code perspective, the answers don’t easily translate to those who aren’t familiar with fire and life safety codes. The approach to retrofitting a class room door with a lock, for example, is more complex and nuanced. This can be particularly frustrating to school administrators who are reaching beyond their traditional roles to ensure the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff.

 

In an effort to give schools the guidance and direction they need and help clarify the challenges around these issues, we developed a new resource to help them effectively, reasonably, and cost-effectively move forward. This document also works to keep schools from making well-intentioned but misguided decisions, particularly as they continue to receive calls from businesses and organizations selling products, resources, and strategies for keeping everyone safe.

 

We’ll be doing our best to get this document directly into the hands of schools, but your support in distributing it will help ensure that it gets to the people who need it most. Please share this document with school administrators and local officials in your communities and jurisdictions to help them make informed decisions. If you have any questions about the information addressed in this document, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section of this blog.

 

What constitutes equivalencies in NFPA 101â, Life Safety Codeâ, for the open kitchens found in today's health care facilities? And what is the role of NFPA and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) when it comes to applying code requirements?

 

Those questions are at the heart of the lead "In Compliance" item in our new January/February issue of NFPA Journalâ, out now.

 

Other topics addressed in this issue's "In Compliance" include a preview of important issues related to the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Codeâ;new changes to NFPA 72â, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Codeâ, for occupant evacuation elevators; and how issues related to smoke compartments in health care occupancies are addressed in NFPA 101 and NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems.

 

The lead item, by Robert Solomon, director of Building Fire Protection & Fire Protection Systems at NFPA, begins with an account of a question received by NFPA’s technical questions service (TQS) and expands into a fundamental explanation of how NFPA codes are applied and what constitutes an AHJ. The question, from a user of NFPA 101, involved a health care occupancy open-kitchen equivalency that had been accepted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CSM. The equivalency did not strictly follow the requirements of the 2012 edition of NFPA 101, however, and the user raised further questions about whether they had to follow the letter of the code, or if the CMS ruling was sufficient.

 

“In this particular case, CMS is the AHJ, and it is ultimately the prerogative of CMS to apply and interpret the code as they see fit,” Solomon writes. “While the TQS offered by NFPA can assist AHJs, designers, installers, and others who rely on the code contents to apply and understand the requirements, [NFPA has] no regulatory authority to make final decisions, override judgments of others, or offer opinions that are contrary to what our codes and standards require.”

 

“In Compliance,” along with all other NFPA Journal departments, columns, and features, is available online and through our free mobile apps.

 

The NFPA Standards Council is in receipt of a New Project Initiation Request for the development of an ANSI Accredited Standard to establish requirements for a professional qualification standard for Fire Service Analysts and Informational Technical Specialists.  Specifically, this standard request seeks a holistic standard which address the complex and emerging areas of planning, managing and executing analyses and technology infrastructure within fire service organizations. If standards development is approved by the Standards Council, the standard may additionally address related topics as the Standard Council directs.
To assist the Standards Council in evaluating the proposal for new standards, NFPA is currently soliciting comments to gauge whether support exists for Fire Service Analysts and Informational Technical Specialists’ professional qualification standards development. NFPA specifically seeks input on the following:
  1. Are you, or your organization, in favor of the development of a new standard establishing standards for professional qualification for Fire Service Analysts and Informational Technical Specialists?
  2. Please state your reason(s) for supporting or opposing the proposed Fire Service Analysts and Informational Technical Specialists standards development.
Please note:  You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using the online application submission system.
Additionally, NFPA would like to know if you or your organization is interested in applying for membership on the Technical Committee if standards development is approved by the Standards Council. If you are interested in participating in standards development as a technical committee member, please submit an application in addition to your comments. Applications may be submitted online at:   Submit online application*.         
Please note: You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using the online application submission system.
*Applications being accepted for purposes of documenting applicant interest in committee participation. Acceptance of applications by NFPA does not guarantee or imply the Standards Council will ultimately approve standards development activity on this proposed subject matter.
The NFPA Standards Council approved a new project to develop requirements for privately operated spaceports.  After a review of all information provided, the Council voted to approve the development of a new technical committee and directed that a call for members be published.  Staff will return to the Council meeting in April, with a proposed start-up roster and a scope for the committee. 
This new standard will establish guidance on the construction and operation of facilities used to house, maintain, and deploy rockets (solid and liquid), space planes, and other similar craft.  It will also provide recommendations on static stands used for testing and the development of rockets and space planes, among others.
If interested in participating in standards development regarding spaceports as a technical committee member, please submit an application by February 27, 2019.  Submit online application.

The image above was sent to the NFPA offices back in 1922, by member A. H. Appearson of Richmond, Virginia.
According to Mr. Appearson, the electric heater shown above was situated in a pattern room of a foundry. A workman had left a bucket of water to heat at about 6:00PM before walking away. The fire occurred around 3:00AM. At the time, the losses from the damages were estimated at $4500.
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to theNFPA 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 NFPA Standards Council approved a new project to develop requirements for the performance and use of remote methodologies, systems and components (including digital video, digital images, digital audio, among others) whether live or submitted as an electronic file for subsequent review to conduct remote inspections of buildings, structures, systems (e.g. electrical, HVAC, fire protection, etc.) and premises including underground spaces and aerial areas. Requirements for collection, custody and maintenance of data available from remote inspections shall also be the responsibility of this Technical Committee.
The Council further directed that a call for members interested in serving on the new technical committee on remote inspections be published.  Staff will return to the Council, in April, with a proposed start-up roster.  
If interested in participating in standards development regarding remote inspections as a technical committee member, please submit an application by February 27, 2019.  Submit online application

 

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.  

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