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:
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 22.214.171.124 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.
We are now accepting nominations for the 2019 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal, which recognizes outstanding advocacy efforts aimed at reducing losses associated with fire, electrical, or other hazards.
The advocacy medal honors an individual or group that shares the values of former NFPA President James Shannon. During his 12-year tenure as president, Shannon had an exceptional record of advocacy efforts tied to life safety issues. Under his leadership, NFPA considerably advanced its mission of fire safety, most notably by spearheading the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes and advocating for fire sprinklers in all new homes.
Nominees should also be involved in advocacy efforts that advance NFPA’s mission, take into account cost-effectiveness, and involve collaboration with NFPA and other organizations. Previous medal recipients include Jim Dalton, whose efforts supporting a career-long commitment to fire safety led to the passage of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. Legislator Ann Jones received the medal in 2017 following her efforts leading to a nationwide requirement for home fire sprinklers in Wales.
Nominations are open to members of the fire service or any other person or group whose advocacy efforts meet the award’s criteria. The medal recipient will be honored at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in San Antonio, Texas, in June 2019. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging.
It’s hard to believe it’s already time to reflect on the end of another year. As a Staff Liaison at NFPA, my role is to facilitate the development of NFPA 1 while ensuring the NFPA standards development process is followed and that we successfully revise our Code to best serve our end users. In addition, this process involves guiding the Technical Committee in addressing emerging issues and technologies related to their document and educating our stakeholders on the content contained in NFPA 1.
2018 was a busy year for the development of NFPA 1. We saw many important issues brought to the Committee; balancing building security and life safety, firefighter communications, energy storage systems, safety of portable generators, and many more. Early this year, NFPA staff and the Fire Code Technical Committee began the journey of developing the 2021 edition of the Code. This included the following activities:
There is such a large volume of information contained in this Code. The more we can educate our users the more we can help with the enforcement of the Code and the safety of buildings and their occupants. I am hopeful that you have found this blog as a successful way to communicate knowledge and information related to Code revisions, FAQs, current events and other seasonal related Code topics. (You can view all past Fire Code Friday blogs here!) In addition, the 2018 edition of the Fire Code Handbook was released earlier this year. This resource provides not only the Code text but commentary that provides explanations behind many of the Code provisions.
Looking ahead, 2019 will bring another busy year. It will be the second year of the revision cycle and the committee will hold at least two Second Draft meetings. We will continue our discussions on improving the Code development process for NFPA 1 to best serve our stakeholders, our inspectors, and the many staff involved in the production of the document. I look forward to continued advances in our work and the development of an NFPA 1 that will continue to serve as the go-to resource for fire inspectors.
In closing, thank you, all, for reading Fire Code Fridays. I hope you have benefitted from the information. If you have suggestions, or feedback, or future topics you would like to see discussed please comment here. Let’s keep the discussion about the Fire Code and fire safety going in 2019.
Best wishes for a safe and happy New Year!
Kristin Bigda, P.E. NFPA 1 Staff Liaison
Eighteen people were killed in a massive dust explosion on December 27, 1977 at the Farmers Export Grain Elevator in Galveston, Texas. Twenty-two people were also injured from the incident.
The explosion occurred at 8:31 p.m. and completely destroyed Grain Tank 1 and much of the surrounding facilities. Multiple investigations examined the explosion, including one conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which issued citations with proposed penalties totaling $116,000. According to the citations, “there were 11 alleged willful violations and six alleged serious violations. Five of the alleged violations directly concerned the railroad dump shed, and seven related to dust dusty atmospheres. “
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please reach out to NFPA's 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.