Skip navigation
All Places > NFPA Today > Blog
1 2 3 4 5 6 Previous Next

NFPA Today

5,005 posts

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for the proposed 2020 edition of NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, are being published for public review and comment:

 

 

Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the September 3, 2019 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.

NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems; NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®; NFPA 101A, Guide on Alternative Approaches to Life Safety; and NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code:

 

  • NFPA 13, Errata 13-19-3, referencing various sections in Chapters 4, 9, 10, 20, 21, and Annex A of the 2019 edition, issued: 6/18/2019
  • NFPA 25, Errata 25-17-2, referencing Table 9.1.1.2 and Table 13.1.1.2 of the 2017 edition, issued: 6/18/2019
  • NFPA 72, Errata 72-19-2, referencing 18.4.2.3 of the 2019 edition, issued: 6/18/2019
  • NFPA 101A, Errata 101A-19-1, referencing Worksheets 4.7.8A and 4.7.8B of the 2019 edition, issued: 6/21/2019
  • NFPA 400, Errata 400-19-2, referencing Table 5.2.1.1.3 Footnote b and A.5.2.1.1.3 of the 2019 edition, issued: 7/18/2019

 

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.

 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is excited to offer its newly updated fire service Photovoltaic & Battery Energy Storage Systems Safety Training course to the United States fire service. This four-hour instructor led course will be offered via live webinar format on August 26th and 28th from 12:00PM EST – 4:00pm EST.

 

Recognizing that energy storage and solar systems are rapidly becoming a reality across the country, NFPA has developed the Photovoltaic & Battery Energy Storage Systems Safety Training program to help the fire service handle the unique challenges presented by these emerging technologies. This training is particularly relevant in the wake of the recent energy storage system incident that occurred in Arizona, resulting in injuries to eight firefighters.

 

The engaging instructor-led course will be taught by NFPA’s highly knowledgeable and experienced instructors, and covers the following topics:

 

  • Introduction to energy storage system & solar concepts including applications, types, and terminology
  • Basic electrical theory
  • Introduction to photovoltaic systems
  • Introduction to battery energy storage systems including lead acid, lithium-ion, sodium sulfur, and flow batteries
  • Failure modes and hazards
  • Pre-incident planning
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Students will be able to interact directly with the fire service instructor, and all participants will receive a certificate upon completion of the course.

 

For questions regarding this training, please contact Michael Gorin at mgorin@nfpa.org.

 

About NFPA’s Energy Storage & Solar Safety Training Program

 

In 2015, NFPA received grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop safety training for the fire service when dealing with sizeable high-powered energy storage systems incidents. The project brought together Strategen Consulting, California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA), the Fire Protection Research Foundation, and several highly knowledgeable subject matter experts from the fire service to identify and confirm best practices for handling incidents involving this emerging technology. Concepts are delivered through online & classroom training, educational videos, animations 3D modeling, scenario rooms, mobile apps, and quick reference materials. In 2017, NFPA received additional FEMA funding to update and expand its program to include solar safety and the latest in storage research findings, while conducting a nationwide awareness campaign for the U.S. fire service. For additional energy storage and solar safety information and resources, please visit our website at www/nfpa.org/ess 

Special thanks to Zack Fischer, one the interns spending a summer at the NFPA working in our Technical Services and Engineering divisions, for his contributions to this blog. Zack is studying for his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is scheduled to graduate in May 2020.

Without access to the situation, fire departments couldn’t do their job very well. They need access to every inch of the facility needing care. The overall idea of “fire department access” is whether or not a fire apparatus is able to access a building or facility close enough to effectively use fire hose lines, fire hydrants, and any other connections.

Fire department access requirements may vary all across the United States. To be sure what your state or counties fire access rules are, check your local fire prevention division and/or NFPA’s Code Finder. In NFPA 1, fire department access is addressed in Chapter 18, and provisions exist to allow fire departments to efficiently combat fire, keeping buildings and people safe. On top of the rules set in place by NFPA 1, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) may require additional fire protection requirements when necessary. They are also allowed to modify existing requirements in situations where standing requirements are onerous and impractical to meet.

Fire department access and fire department access roads must be providing as well as maintained in accordance with Section 18.2 of the Code. Regarding access to structures, the AHJ has the authority to require an access box(es) to be installed in an accessible location where access to or within a structure or area is difficult because of security. The access box(es) must be of an approved type listed in accordance with UL 1037, Standard for Antitheft Alarms and Devices. The AHJ also has the authority to require fire department access be provided to gated subdivisions or developments through the use of an approved device or system. The owner or occupant of a structure or area, with required fire department access must notify the AHJ when the access is modified in a manner that could prevent fire department access.

Fire department access roads must be up to code to provide effective firefighting and allowing for a quick response time. Before designing or determining compliance of the fire department access, the first step is to determine when and where the Code mandates these. (Check out this post to learn more about the design criteria and specifications required for fire department access roads.) In section 18.2.3, NFPA 1 requires approved fire department access roads be provided for every facility, building, or portion of a building constructed or relocated. Acceptable fire department access roads will consist of roadways, fire lanes, parking lot lanes, or a combination thereof. If any one of the following conditions exist, the AHJ may modify whether or not a fire department access road is required:

  1. One- and two-family dwellings protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 13.1 of NFPA 1
  2. Existing one- and two-family dwellings
  3. Private garages having an area not exceeding 400 ft2
  4. Carports having an area not exceeding 400 ft2
  5. Agricultural buildings having an area not exceeding 400 ft2
  6. Sheds and other detached buildings having an area not exceeding 400 ft2

The intent is to not require fire department access roads to detached gazebos and ramadas, independent buildings associated with golf courses, parks, and similar uses such as restrooms or snack shops that are 400 ft2 (37 m2) or less in area, and detached equipment or storage buildings for commercial use that are 400 ft2 (37 m2) or less in area. Interestingly, the Fire Code Technical Committee addressed an issue regarding fire department access as their First Draft meeting last fall, leading to a revision which was voted into the First Draft of the next edition of the Code (you can view the First Draft Report here). Where the Code now states that sheds and other detached buildings having an area not exceeding 400 ft2 may be exempt from fire department road access, the Technical Committee made a change as follows: “(6) Sheds and other detached buildings, not classified as a residential occupancy, having an area not exceeding 400 ft2”.   The proposed change addresses "tiny homes" and similar structures, therefore requiring the application of Sections 18.2.3.1 through 18.2.3.2.2.1 in the Code that otherwise may have exempted these structures from fire department access roads. The growing trend of 'tiny homes', which are residential occupancies, can create a hazardous situation where homes are located close together or where multiple homes are located on a single property. By calling out small detached buildings that are also residential occupancies, this ensures that their fire department access not be compromised.

In summary, almost every building is required to have one fire department access road. Some might even need additional ones if an AHJ says so. Many factors go into determining fire department access, from structure and road requirements to AHJ input. These factors are all listed in NFPA 1, and following these codes will provide safer living conditions and save lives!

As a fire inspector or AHJ enforcing NFPA 1, what issues have you seen with fire department access? Does the Code miss any scenarios that would beneficial to update or review to accommodate common compliance issues around fire department access? Comment below, we would like to hear from you!

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

Another June has come and gone, and now we’re on the backside of 2019! For those of us at NFPA who are involved the NFPA Conference and Expo and the annual technical session, July signifies our recovery from the biggest event of the year in fire, electrical, and life safety. This year has been no different. San Antonio saw the largest gathering of NFPA stakeholders at this event since I came on board at NFPA. This is very encouraging as NFPA strives to spread the word about the NFPA Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem. Each and everyone of the attendees at the Big Show are an integral part of this ecosystem.

 

One stakeholder group that has always been active in the NFPA ecosystem, is the electrical inspector community. Afterall, they represent an entire cog in the ecosystem around code compliance for electrical safety. In 2018, NFPA opened a dedicated member section for public sector electrical inspectors in order to assist in furthering and bettering the position of the electrical inspection community within the NFPA Ecosystem. This year the member section had its annual business meeting and executive board meeting on Sunday before the conference kicked off.

 

One of the topics that was at the center of the discussion and is evident that many of the members are very passionate about, is how can the NFPA Electrical Inspector Member Section play a role in helping the inspection community through providing resources and educational material. This is especially critical at this time when many municipalities are seeing budget cuts and funding reductions that lead to many non-electrical type building officials performing more and more inspections of electrical installations. Multi-hat inspectors are here and are sticking around. The member section recognizes this fact and wants to provide resources and help so that the Code Compliance cog of the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem remains strong in the electrical world.

 

I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the members of the Electrical Inspector Section at Conference and Expo and discuss what some of the challenges are that the electrical inspection community is facing. What we talked about was a resounding need to keep up. Keeping up with changing technology, keeping up with a changing inspection landscape, and keeping up with what other organizations are doing around the industry. We spoke about the challenges facing the inspection community for about an hour in a sort of impromptu roundtable discussion that we did our best to capture on film. Check out some of the highlights from this conversation in this short video below that we put together to capture some of the more important points.

 

 

So how can the electrical inspector member section serve as a resource to the electrical inspection community? One of the methods that they have already started working on is by creating a whitepaper around conducting residential electrical inspections. This whitepaper spells out how the inspection process fits into the Ecosystem and then goes on further to list items and tasks that should be performed during the inspection process of a dwelling unit. They also go a step further and list the various references from building codes such as the NEC® and IRC® as well as other applicable reference standards.

 

Download the whitepaper and start using it today. If you’re an electrical inspector, let us know what you’re seeing out in the field. We’d love to hear from you. Also, the NFPA Electrical Inspector Member Section is seeking members to help further their mission. Membership in the Electrical Inspector Section is open to any NFPA member who is directly employed by or contracted to a public agency that promulgates and/or enforces codes and standards and performs one or more of the following activities:

 

  • field electrical inspections
  • electrical plans review
  • administers/supervises personnel performing field electrical inspections and/or plans review

If you fit the qualifications and this is something you feel you would be interested in please apply today!

 

The natural gas fires and explosions that swept through three communities in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts in September 2018 struck quickly and without warning, inflicting an estimated $1 billion in damage and causing the death of one young man, after a brick chimney collapsed onto the vehicle he was in. 

 

Still, from an incident management standpoint, the Merrimack Valley gas fires represent a success story. 

 

Robust mutual aid and incident command systems lessened the blow of what would have otherwise been a far more "catastrophic" incident, NFPA's Bob Duval says in a new video about the fires. Without such systems, he says, first responders from the three communities "wouldn't have been able to manage assets, moving them, relocating them, bringing them in to where they were needed." 

 

Duval, fire investigator and northeast regional director for NFPA, also penned a feature article on the incident and how it represents a success from an incident management standpoint titled, "Big Assist," the cover story of the July/August 2019 issue of NFPA Journal

 

The article includes the jaw-dropping statistics related to how many departments responded to the incident, where they came from, and what assets they provided. "From September 13–16, mutual aid fire resources were drawn from Massachusetts (246 assets from 199 communities); New Hampshire (92 assets); and Maine (one asset)," the article reads. "More than 200 communities and law enforcement agencies would eventually commit resources to the area. Assets included 180 engines, 68 ladders, and 50 command vehicles. Hundreds of fire, emergency, law enforcement, and gas utility personnel responded to hundreds of calls in the affected communities."

 

Read more at nfpa.org/big_assist.

 

Affable, willing-to-take-on-anything TV host, writer, producer, and spokesman Mike Rowe tackles firefighter cancer in his popular reality web television series, Returning the Favor. In the 19 hours since the show aired on Facebook, 728,000 people have viewed the program, more than 5,700 have shared the link, and 1,600+ comments have been logged – meaning that a whole lot of people are hearing about the impact of occupational cancer in the fire service from one of America’s most trusted sources.


In season 3, episode 17 of the series titled “Firefighters’ Fiercest Fight”, Rowe shows the devastating impact that cancer has had in the fire service – and in particular - on T.J. Maury, a resilient and upbeat Louisiana firefighter with a penchant for super heroes who’s battling stage 3 colon cancer. Despite 17 rounds of chemotherapy, more than two dozen radiation treatments, five surgeries, and a long road ahead, Maury, an assistant chief with the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base just outside of New Orleans, has demonstrated incredible strength and positivity throughout his bout with cancer. He received his diagnosis last summer on the same day he was set to receive the Civilian Fire Officer of the Year Award from the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C. The 35-year old was chosen for the honor from more than 4,000 firefighters and emergency services personnel who are assigned to the 71 Navy installations around the world.


Returning the Favor shines the spotlight on everyday heroes who are making a difference in their communities. Maury’s contributions on and off the job, his awe-inspiring attitude, and the support of his community take center stage in the episode. At the same time, Rowe takes the opportunity to educate viewers on the toll that cancer is taking in the fire service as a result of the toxins that they encounter on the fire ground.


Whether you are among the 2.3 million followers of Returning the Favor, a fan of Mike Rowe, a cancer supporter, or friend of the fire service – be sure to check out the “Firefighters’ Fiercest Fight” segment and work to better educate as many people as possible about the potentials risks that firefighters are exposed to each and every day.

     

The standards above are slated to be consolidated into one overarching document in Phase 1 of the consolidation effort.

 

Two months ago, it was announced that the NFPA Standards Council approved a plan to consolidate 114 NFPA Emergency Response and Responder Safety standards into approximately 43 topical documents, allowing emergency responders better access to the packaged standards information that they need to do their jobs.

 

Since that announcement, we have fielded many calls and emails about the five-year consolidation project which aims to combine 20-25 standards annually, in their proper cycle. To answer questions that may be on your mind, and to maintain an open dialogue with our stakeholders and volunteers, we are sharing the anticipated standards groupings and draft timetable with you. Please know that the consolidation draft handout is for the purpose of providing current information to all our stakeholders and volunteers. Throughout the project we will continually monitor the impact, and make changes, as necessary.

 

The plan to merge related documents into all-inclusive standards, with existing guidance as separate chapters, is in response to the concerns voiced by first responders and Technical Committee members over the last decade. The consolidation project aims to address long-standing emergency services standards conflicts, and alleviate some of the planning and scheduling difficulties that TC members and representatives experienced over the years. By consolidating the number of standards, Technical Committee members can work more cohesively on a variety of topics and emergency responders will have more convenient access to a library of topic-specific content that is critical for their roles.

 

“Now is the time to take the wealth of knowledge in our standards, and combine it in a way that is relevant, inclusive and accessible for responders today. This undertaking blends the critical information that responders need to know to keep safe; and delivers the information in a format that is complete and convenient,” NFPA Vice President and Chief Engineer Chris Dubay said in April when the plan was announced.

 

If you have questions or concerns as you acquaint yourself with the consolidation effort, please feel free to pose your questions below in the comment section or email publicfire@nfpa.org.

The first part of this week’s post is written by Jen Sisco, Engineer in the NFPA Building and Life Safety Systems group and Staff Liaison to NFPA’s Fire Doors and Windows Technical Committee responsible for the development of NFPA 80 and NFPA 105. Thanks to Jen for sharing her knowledge of this important issue in the Fire Code!

 

Passive fire protection in buildings is a critical element for the protection of people and property within NFPA 1. The use of fire barriers, fire walls, and other fire rated assemblies play a vital role in the subdivision of buildings, protection of hazardous areas, and protection of means of egress. However, for these systems to function in a building there has to be allowances for openings for people, equipment, and other building systems.

                       
An unprotected or improperly protected opening within a fire barrier or fire wall poses the risk of comprising the protection of the assembly. NFPA 1 requires that the installation and maintenance of all devices used to protect openings in walls, floors, and ceiling against the spread of fire and smoke comply with Section 12.4 and NFPA 80. Not only is it important to ensure that all openings are provided with appropriate opening protectives, but also to ensure that these assemblies are properly inspected and maintained.

 

The majority of the requirements in NFPA 1, 12.4 are extracted directly from NFPA 80. This section provides an overview of the inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) requirements for fire doors. NFPA 80 provides more comprehensive information relating to the ITM, as well as design and installation of 16 unique type of opening protectives, including fire doors, fire windows, glass block assemblies, fabric fire safety curtains, and fire dampers.


Selection of and proper installation of an appropriate fire door assembly or opening protective is important, but equally as important is the ongoing ITM of these assemblies. Since the 2007 edition of NFPA 80 (referenced by the 2009 edition of NFPA 1), all fire door assemblies require annual inspections. Fire dampers require inspection one year after installation and then every four years or every six years in buildings containing a hospital. As fire inspectors, it is important to understand your responsibility in the fire door (and fire damper inspection process). With many other building fire protection and life safety systems demanding inspection, testing and maintenance resources, it can be hard to juggle the ongoing inspection verification and compliance. But these common building systems that are used every day, cannot be ignored.


Building owners are responsible for ensuring that the fire door (and fire damper) assemblies in their building are properly maintained and part of an annual inspection program. This can be done by in-house personnel with an adequate level of knowledge and understanding of the systems or can be done by a third party vendor (a certified fire door inspector, for example). The fire door inspector conducts the inspections per the minimum criteria in NFPA 1 (and NFPA 80) and the fire inspector/AHJ verifies with buildings that their fire door assemblies are being inspected, testing and maintained as required.


Knowing now that doors are required to be inspected annually, how do you as the AHJ know if a door has been inspected? Records of all periodic testing is required to be maintained for at least three years and be available for review by the AHJ. New to the 2019 edition of NFPA 80, which will be referenced in the 2021 edition of NFPA 1, is the permitted use of inspection markings on the tags or stickers that are applied directly to the assembly documenting an inspection.

 

Looking for additional information on this topic?


To assist in the application of provisions relating to fire doors and other opening protectives, such as those extracted into NFPA 1, NFPA has released a new online training series, “NFPA 80 (2016) Balancing Safety and Security with Fire Doors, Dampers and Door Locking.” This series includes modules offering an NFPA 80 overview, and covers ITM for swinging fire doors, requirements for fire and smoke dampers, and a module on permissible door locking arrangement for all doors.


The educational bundle is designed to help facility managers, building owners, engineers, designers, and code officials deal with essential safety and security features in the buildings that they oversee.


The four module, four-hour, self-paced online fire doors, dampers and door locking training includes more than 30 videos with engineers and others explaining key points, as well as animations, case studies and a Q+A section.

 

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 least three Boston EMS personnel have been assaulted on the job since July 10.       Credit: Getty Images

 

As reported in a recent NFPA Journal cover story, "The Toll of Violence," today’s paramedics and EMTs face increasingly high levels of on-the-job violence, perhaps more than at any time in history, according to researchers. Evidence to support the claim piles higher all the time.

 

On July 10, a Boston EMT was stabbed at least seven times in an ambulance while she was assisting a patient en route to the hospital. The patient suddenly became “unruly and attacked” the female EMT, then pepper sprayed the driver when he pulled the vehicle over and came to assist, Boston EMS alleges. The EMT, whose name has not been released, is currently recovering from surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and is expected to make a full recovery.

 

However, as detailed in "The Toll of Violence," when attacks against responders occur, the resulting psychological wounds can often outweigh the physical ones and take longer to heal. Those interviewed for the article said that emergency medical professionals are increasingly jaded and fed up with the brutal violence they suffer at the hands of those they try to help. The situation has contributed to increased suicide rates in the profession, as well as an increase in the number of workers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), research has revealed.

 

“I think the situation is dire—and I can say that because I’ve talked to paramedics all over the country,” Jennifer Taylor, the director of the Center for Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends (FIRST) at Drexel University, told NFPA Journal. “When I ask paramedics to tell me about their physical injuries they sustain when they’re assaulted, they don’t want to talk about that—they want to talk about the psychological impact.”

 

Taylor and her staff at Drexel are undertaking a multi-year study into the issue, which includes efforts to better understand how often violent incidents against first responders occur, and to test methods that can better protect responders from violence and the physical and emotional injuries that result.

 

No one doubts that the road ahead is a long one. Just a day after the EMT stabbing, a Boston EMS supervisor was allegedly shoved and struck several times in the head and upper body by a bystander while responding to a medical emergency at a South Boston pizza shop. The alleged attacker, a 37-year old woman who seemed aggravated that EMS was blocking her entry to the pizza shop, has been charged with assault and battery. The EMS supervisor was not injured in the incident.

 

In a press conference last Friday, Boston EMS Chief Jim Hooley said that there were 19 assaults against EMTs reported in 2018, a number that has already been eclipsed this year.

 

“So far this year, we’ve had about 31 (EMTs) assaulted,” Hooley said. “That concerns me, because sometimes I wonder if weren’t reporting it in the past, but I don’t think so. I just think the overall numbers are up.

“We’re worried about the long term effect on our personnel,” he added.

To learn more about the issue of violence against EMTs and about efforts to combat the problem, read "The Toll of Violence" in the January/February 2019 NFPA Journal.

The installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is an increasingly attractive way to reduce the cost and environmental impact of producing and using electrical energy. However, these systems can also have an impact on safety for building occupants, electrical workers, and emergency responders. As more homes and businesses are fitted with PV systems, it is important to understand that multiple codes and standards across different disciplines must be applied to ensure a safe installation for all. Whether you are a system installer, property owner, or electrical inspector, finding all of the applicable requirements can be a bit like looking for buried treasure. In this blog post, I’ll save you some digging and give you a map!

 

Reference #1 - NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), 2020 edition establishes requirements for the safe use of electricity and electrical equipment by reducing or eliminating hazards, such as electric shock and fire. The following articles address PV systems as noted and either apply or modify the requirements found in the first four chapters of the Code:

  • Article 690 addresses PV systems other than the PV generating plant (solar farms) covered in Article 691.
  • Article 691 addresses large-scale systems with an inverter generating capacity of 5000 kW and greater.
  • Article 705 addresses installation of one or more electric power production sources operating in parallel with a primary source(s) of electricity.

Most jurisdictions adopt the NEC into law, as there are few alternative codes for electrical installation.

 

Reference #2 - NFPA 1, Fire Code, 2018 edition prescribes minimum requirements necessary to establish a reasonable level of safety and protection from fire, explosion, and dangerous conditions. Part of this code’s objective is to ensure that firefighters can respond effectively and safely to a fire. PV systems are a concern for firefighters because, during a fire, roof-mounted PV systems can impede access to the roof or become a potential shock hazard. Where PV systems are installed on the ground, vegetation and near-by structures could provide a means of spreading fire, and the PV panels could become a shock hazard for anyone with access to the array(s). The following sections address these concerns:

  • Section 11.12.2 addresses roof-mounted systems and establishes requirements for marking and roof access.
  • Section 11.12.3 addresses ground-mounted systems and establishes requirements for clear space, vegetation management, and security.

Where the International Fire Code® (IFC®) is adopted instead of NFPA 1, similar requirements can be found in Section 1204 of the 2018 edition.

 

Reference #3 - NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, 2018 edition provides minimum regulations for the safety of buildings and structures. The following section ensures that roof-mounted PV systems are securely supported by the building and mounting equipment:

  • Section 38.12 addresses roof-mounted systems and establishes requirements for mounting and support, wind design, and seismic design.

Where the International Building Code® (IBC®) is adopted, similar requirements can be found in Section 3111 of the 2018 edition.

Where the International Residential Code® (IRC®) is adopted, similar requirements for one- and two-family dwellings can be found in Section 324 of the 2018 edition.

 

Reference #4 - NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, 2019 edition outlines inspection and maintenance programs for industrial-type electrical systems and equipment. In order to reduce hazards due to failure or malfunction of the PV equipment, the recommendations of the following chapter should be followed:

  • Chapter 33 addresses maintenance of PV systems.

Similar recommendations can be found in CSA Z463-18, Guideline on maintenance of electrical systems.

 

Additional References - PV systems are sometimes supplemented with a means to store the surplus energy produced during the day so that it can be used at night. Where a battery or energy storage system is installed, the following references apply to that portion of the system:

  • NEC®, 2020 edition:
    • Article 480 addresses battery storage systems
    • Article 706 addresses energy storage systems >1kWh
  • Chapter 52 of NFPA 1, 2018 edition or Section 1206 of the 2018 IFC®
  • Where the IRC® is adopted for one- and two-family dwellings, Section 327 of the IRC®

In addition to these references, a new standard, NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, is currently being developed to address the hazards associated with energy storage systems.

 

Note that the references I’ve mentioned in the paragraphs above are applicable to privately-owned systems and might not apply to systems that are under utility control. Before proceeding with any design or installation, it is prudent to verify which editions of these codes have been adopted in your jurisdiction and to check whether any local amendments have been incorporated as well. The NFPA CodeFinder tool can help you get started.

 

On a final note, the documents I’ve identified can contain additional references that are either mandatory or simply helpful. I have chosen not to include those secondary references here. Use the comments section below to tell us about any references you think are particularly important or helpful for designing, installing, or maintaining PV systems.

 

We look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for reading!

 

 

NOTE: NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, and NEC are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association.

International Fire Code, IFC, International Building Code, IBC, International Residential Code, and IRC are registered trademarks of International Code Council, Inc.

The July/August NFPA Journal, out now, includes coverage on everything from a catastrophic natural gas incident to steps for improving safety in escape rooms, a popular type of amusement that is growing worldwide.

 

In our cover story, “The Day the Valley Exploded,” we look at how a gas line malfunction led to widespread fires and explosions in three communities in Massachusetts last year, and how effective mutual aid and incident command helped local fire departments respond to and manage what could have become a nightmare scenario for the Merrimack Valley.

 

Our features are anchored by a look at safety concerns in the global escape room industry, one that is poorly understood by many code officials, and by “Chasing the Chatter,” a timely look at how social media is monitored in emergencies to help responders determine what resources are necessary. The issue also includes a condensed version of the annual report, “Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2018.”

 

Our departments include an “In Compliance” article that takes a deeper dive on the code requirements related to escape rooms. Our “Perspectives” conversation is on the Event Safety Alliance, a group working to improve the safety elements of live events worldwide. In “Dispatches,” staff writer Angelo Verzoni leads with a fascinating, if sobering, look at the ongoing global problem of buildings that use combustible exterior wall assemblies, the kind of materials that played a major role in the devastating Grenfell Tower fire that killed scores of people in London two years ago.

 

In an equally sobering vein, “Wildfire” columnist Michele Steinberg offers a scathing assessment of the willingness of communities to overlook wildfire-resistant building standards, even though we’ve known for years that such standards work. On a recent trip to Santa Rosa, California, to tour a neighborhood recently rebuilt after being leveled by the 2017 Tubbs Fire, Steinberg encountered building and landscaping practices that ignore the harsh lessons that should have been ingrained in building officials after thousands of homes and other structures were lost in the city two years ago. “This is nothing less than an abdication of local government’s responsibility for public safety,” Steinberg writes.

 

NFPA Journal is available in print, online, and through our free mobile apps. 

How do you know if equipment is ready to fail? What are signs of impending failure? Who should know what the signs of impending failure are for a piece of equipment? NFPA 70E®,Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® requires that before you operate a piece of electrical equipment that you confirm that the normal operating conditions have been met. You are put at risk of injury if any one of those conditions is suspect. I have written several blogs covering the subject and the impending failure condition confuses many people.

Typically the employer/owner is not aware of the daily condition of individual equipment in their facility. This means that the unqualified person operating the electrical equipment must be trained to recognize an impending failure since conditions can change on a daily basis. The electrical safety training provided should include recognizing potential failure modes and identifying signs of impending equipment failure. This is true whether the equipment that the employee operates is portable and cord-and-plug connected or a section of a large assembly line. However, the signs of impending failure vary greatly by the type of electrical equipment.

The smell of ozone, presence of smoke, and sound of arcing are all possible indications of potential equipment failure. Damage or discoloration of the power cord could be a sign for the portable equipment. A tripped circuit breaker or operation of a ground-fault circuit-interrupter could be another sign. For the assembly line equipment there may be warning lights or alarms. A controller may shutdown to prevent damage and should not be routinely reset. Without proper training to understand such things the employee may not recognize the risk of an injury while operating the equipment.

Electrical safety is not just for qualified persons and involves a lot more than donning PPE. Federal law mandates that an employer provide a workplace that is free from known hazards. An employee operating equipment that is exhibiting signs of impending failure is placed at risk of injury due to electrical hazards. It is only proper training that prevents an injury in that circumstance. Does your electrical safety training for unqualified persons include this important aspect? If you are the employee, do you know how to recognize a potential equipment failure that could prevent you from returning home today?

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

Next time: On July 16th - 18th, I will be in Indianapolis for the NFPA 70E meeting and the week after for the NFPA 72 meeting so this will be my only blog for the month of July. I will post something about that meeting in my August blog.

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.


Last week, a massive fire tore through a Jim Beam warehouse in Kentucky, destroying 45,000 barrels of the company's whiskey. The blaze continued for days as barrels of the flammable liquid were purposefully allowed to burn to avoid further contaminating a nearby river by adding more water to the fire that could then run into the river, according to CNN. Officials say a lightning strike was likely the cause. 

 

Similar scenarios have played out over the years in Kentucky.

 

In 2003, a lightning strike at a Jim Beam warehouse in Bardstown, Kentucky, set the wood-frame structure ablaze and sent 800,000 gallons of flaming bourbon into a nearby retention pond. Seven years prior, a fire broke out at Heaven Hill Distillery, also located in Bardstown, and burning whiskey created what one employee described to the Kentucky Standard newspaper as "a river of fire." And in 2000, a fire at a Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, destroyed nearly 1 million gallons of bourbon.

 

I wrote about distillery fires and the resources that exist to protect these facilities from fire for the March/April 2018 edition of NFPA Journal

 

While the piece—"Small Scale, High Proof"—largely focuses on the boom the United States has seen in recent years in small, craft distilling operations, the fire safety threats and fire protection concepts detailed in the story apply to any distillery, no matter how large or old. The article, for example, shows that hard liquor, usually 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) or higher, can give off enough vapor to ignite in air, at relatively low temperatures. It typically has a flashpoint of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, the article says, compared to pure ethyl alcohol with a flashpoint of 55 degrees F. 

 

Read more at nfpa.org/safedistilling.

Happy Independence Day, America! Today we thought we would share one of NFPA’s public outreach posters from 40 years ago.

Did you know that each 4th of July, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks?

According to NFPA, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires.

In 2017, US hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 54% of those injuries were to the extremities and 36% were to the head.

 

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. 

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: