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

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

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


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


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

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


Register for the webinar todayVisit for more upcoming NFPA webinars and archives. 

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

Photo Courtesy of Liberty Mutual Insurance. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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.

The nominee application, available for download, is due January 11, 2019 and can be sent to

From The NFPA Quarterly v. 3, no.1 (July 1909):
This was an exposure fire set by burning the Baldwin Theater and office building adjacent. The fire attacked the building through unprotected window openings, damaging woodwork and furnishings in about 40 rooms. Fire was fought from inside the building with hose attached to inside standpipes, also from the outside by the city department.
The building was of reinforced concrete construction and had the windows been properly protected against such exposure, little damage would have resulted. The owner claimed damage to exposed building wall from intense heat. Loss claimed on building and contents estimated at $42,000 at the time.
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.
On the afternoon of Sunday, January 4th in 1925, 1 patient died in fire at a private Boston hospital. The Scobey Hospital, located at 906-908 Beacon Street had been converted from two four-story residences into a hospital by cutting two doorways through the fire wall that separated them. Though there were fire doors installed, they were not automatic and were held open at the time of the fire.
It was just before one o’clock in the afternoon when the fire started. The apparent cause was from a short-circuit that ignited the lower limbs of a dismantled Christmas tree in a room near the foot of the main stairs. At the time of the incident, four women were in the process of taking down the tree in the front room on the first floor when the fire started. They attempted to use rugs to put the fire out… Unfortunately the tree was dry and the fire quickly spread to the window curtains and wooden trim before sweeping up the wooden stairway and into the adjoining building.
There were eighteen patients in the hospital at the time of the incident, two of them infants. All of the adult patients were “surgical cases” and required assistance in their escape from the building. “Those who were able to move crowded out on to the small balconies and endured the smoke pouring from the windows behind them until rescuers reached them.” 
From NFPA Quarterly v. 18, no.4 (April 1925):
While there was much talk and many rumors surrounding the fire at the time, it distracted the public “from the real cause of the seriousness of the fire – the unsprinklered and combustible construction of the building, insufficiency of exits, and the fire door fastened open. The one loss of life was directly due to the open fire door on the third floor. The lack of exits imperiled the lives of patients and made necessary the ladder rescues.
The character of the interior, highly combustible, without proper protection of vertical openings, and the total lack of first-aid fire appliances or a sprinkler system in the parts of the building affected, left nothing to retard the progress of the fire.”
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.

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:

  • Schedule update and customization – The 2021 revision cycle has been updated to reflect the challenges and needs of our technical committees, stakeholders as well as the staff involved in the developing a document that extracts from over 50 other NFPA standards and is over 750 pages in length. Changes to the schedule include:
    • Separating out the work on text owned by NFPA 1 versus the provisions extracted from NFPA 1. This will have an impact on the work by holding at least two meetings at both the First and Second Draft stages (we held two First Draft meetings in 2018.) This will allow for greater visibility of the work being done to extracted text for both our volunteers and the public.
    • Allowing for some additional time internally to process the changes both from NFPA 1 unique text as well as the extract updates. This includes pushing out the ballots and posting of the First Draft and Second Draft reports to maximize production time and product a higher quality end product.
  • Pre-First Draft Meeting – In May we held a Pre-First Draft meeting to address issues that arose early in the process and to plan ahead for the remainder of the revision cycle. At this meeting, five task groups were created to further review public inputs on topics such as life safety and security, standpipe provisions, portable generators, and emergency services communications. The Committee also developed draft actions on over 70 public inputs and reviewed emerging trends and technologies impacting the Code.
  • First-Draft Meeting #1 – In September we held the (first) First Draft meeting where the Committee acted on over 125 public inputs, developed 93 First Revisions and created 51 Committee Inputs. These actions account for future extract updates and the many emerging issues that will need to be addressed by the Fire Code this cycle. Six new task groups were formed to work on issues that arose during the meeting. These task groups will further evaluate topics such as photovoltaics, Monitor-it-Yourself (MIY) systems, energy storage systems, and portable generators.  
  • First Draft Meeting #2, extract review – In November was the second, First Draft meeting. At this meeting the Committee addressed only the review and updating of Code provisions that are extracted from other documents. At this meeting the Committee reviewed over 300 pages of updated text from 14 different NFPA codes and standards. The remainder will be reviewed and updated at the Second Draft.

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

Pictured here: Head house and silos, as seen from southeast after the explosion. Grain Tank 1 collapsed, and contents of Grain Tank 2 are burning.

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.

An employer using NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®can be either a host or contract employer. If an employer is using in-house workers it is obvious who has the responsibility for 130.2(A). When a contractor is working for a host employer it may become less obvious for the application of 130.2(A). However, consider that both the host and contract employer have responsibilities set forth in Article 110. Each is responsible for assuring proper protection for their own employees.
In a host/contractor situation, the host may determine that energized work is justified or simply that they don’t want the system to be turned off. However, the contract employer should fully understand the reason behind the energized work and has the responsibility of protecting their employees from electrical hazards. If the contract employer feels their employees are at undue risk, there is no requirement that they perform the proposed task. On the other hand, the contract employer may decide that their employee can handle energized work or may determine that energized work is justified. However, if the host employer feels the contract employer will use unsafe work practices there is no requirement that the contractor be used to perform the work.
From an NFPA 70E viewpoint, both the host employer and contract employer should have a fully developed electrical safety program. For the host employer, the program should address both in-house and contract work. Using contract workers does not absolve the host employer of their obligation to provide a work environment that is federally mandated to be free of recognized hazards. In order to do so, the host employer must notify a contract employer of known hazards. The contract employer’s electrical safety program should not only address common electrical safety issues but also conditions anticipated for the specific tasks conducted at a host employer site. The contract worker must be qualified to perform the assigned task on the specific equipment present at the host employer site.
If electrical work is to be performed there will almost always be known hazards. This is true whether an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) will be established or energized work will be justified. A documented meeting between the host and contract employer is therefore required. The meeting should cover many things. Before any work has begun it is first necessary to determine that the equipment is indeed in a normal operating condition. Anything otherwise can pose risks not anticipated. Inspection, maintenance, and failure logs should be reviewed. A risk assessment is necessary for the assigned task on the specific equipment. This could be a review of the risk assessment provided by the host employer or a previous risk assessment by the contract employer. It could be the first assessment for that task on that equipment. It may require verification of the parameters on the equipment label.  
If an ESWC is to be established, it is possible that each employer has a procedure. One procedure may be more thorough or stringent than the other. The host and contract employers must agree on the procedure to be used. A contract worker may not be familiar with the host’s procedure, and training should be provided to that worker. A detailed record should be developed if a task will be conducted while energized. The host employer is typically responsible for the safety of anyone present in their facility. A contract employer has a responsibility to protect their workers at a contract site. In no case should an employee be subjected to unjustified, exposed, energized electrical hazards.
There are many other things that a host and contract employer must reach agreement on before a contract worker begins a task. Who decides that the equipment is under normal operating conditions? Whose PPE will be used? Who will provide any specialized equipment? Who is responsible for verifying that all PPE is suitable for the assigned task? How will affected host employees be notified of the task? Who will be responsible for establishing and enforcing the approach boundaries? What happens when the procedure will include a complex lockout program? A host employer occasionally feels that they have no obligations or responsibility for safety of a contract worker. A contract employer sometimes feels as if they know better than the host employer. The rules of electrically safety apply regardless of a host or contract employee conducting the task but someone must make sure that the rules are followed. This needs to be determined before any task has begun. 
The host and contract employer relationship is unique. Both employers are responsible for the safety of a contract worker at risk of an injury. There must be open and honest dialog between the two employers for there to be a true safety culture for a contract worker. The host employer may look at things differently if they treat the contract worker as one of their own. The contract employer may benefit by considering employee safety above all else. The welfare of the employee should always be in the forefront of any decision and revenue for either party should not be part of the safety discussion.
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange
Next time: Maintaining protective equipment.
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 instructions.

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