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In my recent NFPA® Live session I covered the challenges of managing the high pressures needed in the standpipe and sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings. This included various techniques related to the following: moving water to the upper floors of a high-rise building, helping prevent exposure to firefighters and system components from the dangerously high pressures in a standpipe system, accepted methods of water storage in high-rise buildings, and how certain pressure regulating components work and how they are used.

I received this follow-up question from a member. 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 Question service. 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!

 

This past Friday evening, eight firefighters were injured when an energy storage system (ESS), which was connected to a solar panel array and operated by Arizona Public Service Company (APS), was involved in a fire and subsequently, an explosion. According to media sources, responders were called to the scene in response to a smoke condition from an ESS container. When they arrived on-scene, they saw white smoke billowing from a Conex container and called a hazardous materials unit to respond. Soon after they inspected the container, an explosion took place that blew the heavy metal doors off their hinges. Injuries sustained by the first responders included both thermal and chemical burns, as well as multiple fractures, lacerations, and a collapsed lung. As of the writing of this blog, one responder was critically injured and two others were seriously injured, however all three are reported in stable condition. Thankfully the remaining five have been released and are recovering at home.

 

This incident is a reminder of the challenges faced by first responders as new technology such as ESS are mainstreamed into everyday living. Use of ESS is growing not only in the U.S. but also on a global scale, as renewable energy is implemented around the world.  These systems are showing up in myriad environments, including residential homes, commercial buildings, hospitals, and dedicated utility operated sites, like this installation.

 

Since 2014, NFPA has been working to identify the hazards associated with this emerging and growing technology.  Research from the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), expansion of ESS criteria in NFPA 1, Fire Code, development of our new NFPA 855 stationary energy storage standard, and the construction and deployment of the U.S.’s first Energy Storage and Solar Safety training program for first responders demonstrate NFPA commitment to providing and sharing the knowledge necessary to help with the design and ongoing operation of ESS, regardless of the size or location of the system. (On that note, the Boston Fire Department and other departments in the greater Boston area are attending an ESS training at our headquarters today.)

 

Equally, if not more important is the need to offer first responders the information and education they need when they encounter a fire event or incident at an ESS facility. ESS owners, operators, and designers for these facilities are encouraged to utilize the resources provided by NFPA to ensure that the best design and installation practices are being followed.  Pre-planning and coordination with the first responders is a critical need, since ESS technology can vary between battery chemistries, arrays, and location options.  Firefighters need to be aware of the underlying hazards in these environments and the additional precautions that need to be taken when conducting operations involving ESS. NFPA offers free online self-paced training, as well as classroom training, interactive scenario modeling apps, and reference materials so knowledge about these systems can be propagated.     

 

NFPA has consolidated all of our available resources at www.nfpa.org/ess.  Many of these materials are readily and freely available to all members of the public and responder communities.  This Arizona event and the serious dangers it revealed for the firefighters involved allows all of us to pause and step up our efforts on educating the broader fire protection community about ESS .  It is also a good reminder that as new technology comes into our lives, new potential hazards often follow.  Raising awareness of these hazards and offering solutions is a fundamental part of NFPA’s mission.       

new york public library

 

Since the historic fire at Notre Dame this past Monday, I have found myself fascinated with the flood of analyses and photos and information about the fire, the building design and construction, its history and a global desire to rebuild.   I am confident that for the weeks and months to come we will continue to see and hear information as plans solidify and a community joins together to plan and prepare for moving forward with redeveloping and reimagining this global icon. 

 

A few days ago, a local Boston news website wrote an article about a local monument, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and its recently completed fire protection upgrades.  The last sentence of the article resonated with me the most.  Chris Gedrich, an executive at Boston-based Suffolk Construction stated “We rely heavily on teamwork and partnerships . . . and a lot of pre-analysis of hazardous areas before we start to work.”  Designing, building, protecting and maintaining has to be a team event.  Those partnerships and shared conversations that are held up front set the stage for success among all those involved in such a unique large scale project that carries such a variety of goals and objectives held my numerous stakeholders.  When the Notre Dame community is ready to move forward following the fire, this quote will have to hold true to ensure a safe and resilient structure.  

 

You read in Robert Solomon’s post about the challenges of protecting historic buildings from fire and the codes that NFPA produces that address these challenges.  Both NFPA 909 and NFPA 914 are referenced in NFPA 1.  Inspectors and AHJs are provided the direction to comply with NFPA 914 when faced with historic buildings in their jurisdiction.  For buildings that display cultural resources, including museum or library collections, or spaces within other buildings used for such culturally significant purposes, inspectors have available to them NFPA 909.

 

What is so unique about NFPA 909 that also relates to the quote noted above from Mr. Gedrich is its emphasis on the planning process when preparing a protection plan for a cultural resource property. The governing body of these properties is responsible for developing and adopting a protection plan for the property.  In addition, a planning team must be identified in order to oversee the development of the protection plan.  The planning team collects all relevant information, standards and regulations to begin the development of a protection plan.  Chapter 5 of NFPA 909 provides the governing body of a cultural resource property with the framework to develop the protection plan.

 

Throughout NFPA 909, for the variety of culturally significant properties, is the common theme of teamwork, either during day to day protection of the property and even during construction and renovation projects.  Identified and agreed upon roles, responsibilities and documentation are a minimum to ensuring the adequate protection of such valuable and treasured property.

 

Whatever transpires with the future of Notre Dame or other communities around the world that may be reassessing the safety, security and resiliency of their own cultural and historical structures, one thing is for sure, it will involve teamwork, contributions and buy-in from all stakeholders involved in the process.  It will be an effort and undertaking with a global impact and with modern fire safety and technology in the spotlight.  I, for one, will be following along with the rebuilding of this icon every step of the way.  Will you?

 

Do you have any historical or cultural buildings in your jurisdiction?  What challenges do you face?  Comment below and join the discussion!

 

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

Thanks for reading!

Late in the morning on Friday, April 20, 1928, three explosions shook the property at the Alexander Industries plant in Engelwood, Colorado. At least eleven people lost their lives due to this tragedy.

The cause of the explosions was undetermined at the time, but it was widely believed that the ignition source was from an electric motor that sparked while operating a ventilation fan and then set fire to a pan of silver nitrate in the paint shop. This shop was used as a “Dope Shed” where airplane wings would be coated with a nitro-cellulose compound called “dope”. Because of the highly flammable nature of the materials involved, the fire spread quickly and destroyed most of the complex.

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. 

To stay up to date, sign up for NFPA Newsletters.

Photo Courtesy of Andysmith248 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

 

As a staff engineer I often get the question through our technical question service (TQS) if a smoke control system is required. Although there are a few times where NFPA 101®  prescribes the use of a smoke control system, for the most part it is a choice by the building designer to comply with performance criteria in the Code.

Smoke control is an engineered system that is designed to modify the movement of smoke. Where the NFPA 101 requires a smoke control system, it is required to comply with NFPA 92, Standard for Smoke Control Systems. There are two main types of smoke control systems per NFPA 92: smoke containment systems and smoke management systems. The purpose of smoke containment system is contain smoke to a given area and prevent it from entering another area, such as with a stairwell pressurization system. The purpose smoke management system is maintain tenability of an area or means of egress and reduce migration of smoke between the fire area and adjacent spaces, such as with an atrium smoke control system.

There are several times in which NFPA 101 prescribes the use of smoke control:

  1. New underground buildings or portions of buildings that have an occupant load greater than 100 persons underground, has a human occupied level more than 30 ft. or more than one level below the lowest level of exist discharge, and has combustible contents, interior finish or construction, is required to be provided with an automatic smoke venting.
  2. The second is for levels in new assembly occupancies 30 ft. or more below the lowest level of exit discharge which are required to be divided into two smoke compartments, each provided with its own independent smoke control or smoke exhaust system.
  3. Enclosed mall concourses connecting more than two stories.

There are other times that a smoke control system may be required in order to meet a performance criterion. Such as new atria which require an engineering analysis to demonstrate that the smoke layer interface is maintained above the highest opening or at least 6 ft. above the highest floor level for a time period of 1.5 times the calculated egress time or at least 20 minutes. An atrium may be able to achieve this performance criteria without the use of a smoke control system, however, for some buildings the installation of a smoke control system may be necessary to achieve a desired atrium design.

 

Stairwell pressurization systems as a means to provide a smokeproof enclosure is another common example of smoke control systems. Smokeproof enclosures are required to be designed to limit the movement of smoke, this is permitted to be achieved through natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation incorporating a vestibule, or by enclosure pressurization.

 

In addition to atria and smokeproof enclosures, smoke control systems may be utilized to meet a design criterion for buildings and designs including underground and limited access buildings, smoke-protected assembly seating, stages in assembly occupancies, detention and correctional occupancies, mall concourses, as part of an engineered life safety system, or in performance-based designs in accordance with Chapter 5.

 

For most buildings and designs, with the exception of underground buildings and mall concourses, the Code will not prescribe the use of a smoke control system. However, based on the use and design of the building, the use of a smoke control system may be desired or necessary to meet the prescribed performance criteria in the Code.

 

Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “Free access." 

A national proclaimed recognition week (second week in April) was established in 1991 honor the 9-1-1 Public Safety Telecommunicators. This year, April 14 - 20 is dedicated to the men & women who serve as public safety call takers & dispatchers in our 9-1-1 centers. We at the NFPA thank all who stay on the line and help us in our times of greatest needs.  Many don’t realize the challenges our 911 telecommunicators face every day.  They are the first to know when something has happened and attempt to remotely make calm out of chaos, gather critical information; including information to help protect the safety of first responders, and then provide lifesaving instructions over the phone that could potentially save someone’s life.   

In 2009, I had major back surgery that would limit my ability to work on an ambulance for a significant amount of time. For the better part of the next two years, I worked as a dispatcher, 911 call taker, and C-Med radio operator (coordinating regional ambulance to hospital communications).  In the center where I worked, we averaged processing approximately 140,000 calls for service a year. I can honestly say, the time I spent in dispatch made a huge difference in my life and career. It opened my eyes to other divisions of my department and other things I could do to serve my community.  It afforded me the opportunity to learn different operational and managerial roles that would benefit me later on. But most importantly it taught me to use other senses and critical communication and thinking skills to process information and emergency scenes without being able to see or touch the patients. In the long run this improved my leadership, communication, and organizational skills.

While in dispatch I managed many major multiple casualty incidents from the dispatcher chair. I also took calls from women in active labor and coached them through what to do until help arrived, I talked members of the public through Hands-only CPR, and even talked with many people who were contemplating suicide and tried to keep their attention and focus on staying with me until help arrived.  I always thought being an EMT and going through the emotions of the challenges we face every day was hard.  I didn’t know how good we had it until I went into dispatch!  It’s all the same challenges and feelings, but you can’t see or feel them for yourself. You have to hope that people are following your instructions and learning the results of your efforts is extremely rare. This puts an incredible mental strain on you because while most don’t realize it, our dispatch professionals are there with all other first responders on the very same front lines trying to help other in need. Their ability to quickly multi-task, get resources moving, and provide guidance in a fog of confusion, is a most admirable and critical skill for the safety of the public.

One of the things I’m most proud of in our work at the NFPA, is that long before I ever came along, the NFPA has been working with the dispatch community to incorporate them into the codes and standards we develop. This is indicative of the critical nature of the work of our dispatchers and the absolute fact that they too are first responders.

Through NFPA 1221; Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems we set the minimum standard to which our dispatch centers and Public Answering Points are designed and used. Through NFPA 1061; Standard for Public Safety Telecommunications Personnel Professional Qualifications we set the training and educational minimums that telecommunicators must demonstrate in order to perform their jobs. More recently, we have looked at the expanded role of our dispatch centers and personnel play in active shooter and hostile event incidents them having their own chapter in NFPA 3000; Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program and their expanded medical screening role in order to reduce the burden of non-emergent medical calls in our 911 EMS systems in NFPA 451; Guide for Community Healthcare Programs.  Today and every day, we at the NFPA thank and appreciate those professionals on the other side of the line from all of us who stand ready to help complete strangers in their times of need.  Happy Public Safety Telecommunicators Week!!!!

 

I just returned from Paris this past Saturday after a week of meetings with the ISO committee that deals with Sustainable Cities and Communities.  Part of the goal of this committee is to look at a range of critical issues such as resilience, community risk reduction, smart city concepts and transportation options, and the ways in which we measure how good, or how not so good we all are doing in these areas. Recognition of the importance of preservation of heritage sites and historically significant buildings is among the topics that we often discuss either in the meetings or during the more informal settings.

 

Like many others, I heard about the awful fire at Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday afternoon. While I had the privilege to tour the building when I was there in 2007, I simply did a “walk by” during some free time I had on my most recent trip. While it is way too early to determine or speculate why this fire occurred, that will come later, there is no argument or question that the loss of significant portions of this magnificent structure and some of its contents will have a lasting impact not only on the citizens of Paris and France, but clearly on the world community as a whole. I do not overlook the fact that no one was killed or seriously injured. Likewise, I also acknowledge that sometimes losing a piece of history can also be a devastating experience.

 

Fires in historic buildings are often times difficult to judge, extinguish or control.  Failure of wood structural members alter the behavior of remaining structural elements. Exterior walls that were once tied together by overhead elements become freestanding façades that could collapse on first responders for any number of reasons. Beyond the physical loss, such fires leave a gaping hole in a community or a larger society. Application of best practices in the form of codes, standards — norms as they are sometimes referred to in Europe — can all work to help minimize the impact of fire even in buildings that are more than 800 years old.  Innovative and novel designs have allowed sprinkler systems to be retrofitted in these older structures. Use of specialized systems such as beam detection and air aspirating devices can be used to apply and blend in effective smoke detection into the architectural features of these buildings.

 

These and other measures require the delicate balance of providing fire protection and life safety systems that are both effective, yet minimally obtrusive. Maintaining the historic fabric of the structure is a critically important goal of the designer. Determining what operating plans can be put in place to supplement the systems must also be considered. In other words, what roles can the staff members who are at the building day in and day out play in keeping the occupants as well as the building safe from the effects of fire. All of these measures are among the criteria provided into specialized NFPA codes that deal with these environments. NFPA 909, Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties — Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship and NFPA 914, Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures can work hand-in-hand to offer meaningful solutions to protect these important buildings from fire as well as other potential hazards.

 

NFPA 914 in particular is developed by a committee of experts who know about the delicate balance mentioned above.  The requirements in this code have been carefully evaluated to bring to bear all of the unique options and solutions that might be applied to these structures.  From management operational systems, fire prevention, security and special precautions that should be taken during renovation projects, NFPA 914 provides a wide range of criteria that can mitigate the effects of the fire.

 

While the fire at Notre Dame will bring attention to the importance of having the right measures in place to prevent or minimize the impact of a fire, it is important to not lose sight of the fact that fires in places of worship are not totally unheard of. At about the same time the fire in Paris was burning, another fire was burning at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Early reports are that this fire was contained rather quickly in this 1300 year old structure and that perhaps minimal damage occurred to the Mosque. Most of us probably never heard of St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre or the Greater Union Baptist Church or the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, both located in Opelousas. These three churches in Louisiana were targeted by an arsonist in the last three weeks. Historic by US standards, the churches stood for over 100 years and were a focus of the local community. As the caretakers for these structures, used for religious purposes or not, historic or not, applying the right mix of building design, operating features and vigilance requires a group effort to protect and maintain the heritage that these buildings represent.

 

Those that are interested in historic preservation or protection of specialized cultural resource facilities might be interested in these NFPA Journal articles:

 

 

 

Health care facilities contain countless doors serving numerous purposes. Some doors require routine inspections, and the items to be inspected vary depending on the application of the door. In this NFPA® Live I guided viewers in determining which doors require routine inspections and where to find the required inspection frequencies and criteria in NFPA codes and standards.

In my recent NFPA Live I provided an overview of the code requirements and compared those with the expectations of surveyors when they are in a facility. I received this follow-up question from a member. 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 Question service. 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!

On April 10, 1935, the Massachusetts fire departments of Weymouth and Braintree were called upon to fight a large fire that swept over Weymouth Landing after a gas explosion early in the morning.

 

 

At the time of the incident, there had been a suspected gas leak. The manager of the store was heading to the basement to inspect the leak at about 1:30 A.M, when the blast occurred. Considerable confusion was caused in the surrounding streets by flooding and a fire soon broke out among the debris in the store. The blast also was credited with shattering the window glass of most of the surrounding buildings.

 

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.

Getty Images

 

 

Local authorities announced this week that the cause of the massive fire that gutted Brazil's 200-year-old National Museum in September 2018 was an improperly installed air conditioning unit on the ground floor of the museum. The fire destroyed roughly 90 percent of the facility's 20 million artifacts. 

 

"[The] air conditioners failed to meet manufacturer recommendations regarding the use of separate circuit breakers and grounding devices, according to an Agence France-Press report," an article published in Smithsonian magazine reads. "The Associated Press adds that units received a stronger electrical current than they were made to conduct, created a powder keg situation poised for disaster." A page on NFPA's website details the adoption and use of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, in Latin America. While 12 countries are listed, including ones that border Brazil like Venezuela and Peru, Brazil is not.

 

On top of the unsafe electrical practices, a number of other factors at the museum contributed to the fire's rapid spread and severity. I reported on these in a November 2018 "Dispatches" article in NFPA Journal. 

 

"According to museum experts, fire safety officials, and politicians who were interviewed after the incident, it was a loss that could have been prevented with additional attention and resources for the museum, which could have paved the way for critical fire safety upgrades," the article says. "The 200-year-old building, a former palace for the Portuguese royal family, lacked fire sprinklers and fire doors. Fire hydrants close to the museum failed to provide responding firefighters with an adequate water supply to fight the flames." The article goes on to explain how similar fire safety deficiencies exist in many historic buildings worldwide—not just museums—"because of a lack of government support, misconceptions among property owners, and the intrinsic challenges—and costs—of retrofitting historic, sometimes centuries-old structures with modern fire and life safety technology."

 

A sidebar to that piece included interviews with NFPA staffers who reflected on the Brazil museum fire. "Brazil’s economy, which has been experiencing ups and downs, doesn’t help the situation, as issues with more immediate importance get addressed while preventing tragedies like the museum fire are put on the backburner," Anderson Queiroz, NFPA's representative to Brazil, told me. "I simply don’t see any tangible solution in the short-term, except to count on luck and divine help that more fires like this don’t happen."

The Report of the Motions Committee addresses the following six Standards in the Annual 2019 revision cycle and contains Certified Amending Motions eligible for presentation and action at the 2019 NFPA Technical Meeting:

  • NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code
  • NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems
  • NFPA 302, Fire Protection Standard for Pleasure and Commercial Motor Craft
  • NFPA 502, Standard for Road Tunnels, Bridges, and Other Limited Access Highways
  • NFPA 654, Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
  • NFPA 1961, Standard on Fire Hose

 

Please note:  The NFPA Technical Meeting agenda (Tech Session) which incorporates the Fall 2018 and the two Annual 2019 Motions Committee Reports will be posted at a later date. The agenda will include the order in which the Standards will be presented.

 

 

The Report also identifies a list of 15 Standards in the Annual 2019 revision cycle that have been determined by the Motions Committee to be Consent Standards and shall be forwarded to the Standards Council for balloting.  The final date to file an appeal on these Consent Standards is April 18, 2019

  • NFPA 55, Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code
  • NFPA 405, Standard for the Recurring Proficiency of Airport Fire Fighters
  • NFPA 412, Standard for Evaluating Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Foam Equipment
  • NFPA 414, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Vehicles
  • NFPA 556, Guide on Methods for Evaluating Fire Hazard to Occupants of Passenger Road Vehicles
  • NFPA 557, Standard for Determination of Fire Loads for Use in Structural Fire Protection Design
  • NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems
  • NFPA 820, Standard for Fire Protection in Wastewater Treatment and Collection Facilities
  • NFPA 1082, Standard for Facilities Safety Director Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development
  • NFPA 1452, Guide for Training Fire Service Personnel to Conduct Community Risk Reduction
  • NFPA 1710, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments
  • NFPA 1720, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments
  • NFPA 1936, Standard on Powered Rescue Tools
  • NFPA 1961, Standard on Fire Hose
  • NFPA 2113, Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire

Note:  For the 15 preceding standards, issuance by the Standards Council is anticipated to be April 28, 2019.

 

Additionally, the following Standards have modified/custom schedules and therefore, have later NITMAM closing dates.  The posting of the Report of the Motions Committee for these documents having Certified Amending Motions is May 17, 2019:

  • NFPA 2, Hydrogen Technologies Code
  • NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
  • NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®
  • NFPA 78, Guide on Electrical Inspections
  • NFPA 451, Guide for Community Health Care Programs
  • NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems 
  • NFPA 1078, Standard for Electrical Inspector Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1936, Standard on Powered Rescue Tools

Development of the 2021 edition of the Life Safety Code is well underway. The NFPA 101 First Draft Report, which contains the NFPA 101 First Draft with all approved first revisions (FRs), committee inputs (CIs), and resolved public inputs (PIs), is available for review online. Any topic addressed by an FR, CI, or PI, can be commented on by anyone. The public comment closing date is May 8, 2019, so if you would like to participate in the process, now is the time to submit public comments. If you’re new to the NFPA standards development process or could just use a refresher, head over to the codes and standards page on the NFPA website.

The NFPA 101 First Draft contains a total of 316 FRs (334 including first correlating revisions). A comprehensive understanding of the proposed revisions requires reviewing the entire First Draft Report. I realize relatively few people have time for such an undertaking, so I’ve identified what I think are some of the highlights (noted paragraph numbers are consistent with the First Draft numbering):

  • Revised definition of ‘personal care’ to include limited skilled nursing services (3.3.216, A.3.3.216)
  • New provision clarifying that non-required fire doors do not require compliance with NFPA 80 (4.6.12.14, A.4.6.12.3)
  • New term ‘clear floor area’ used in Ch. 7, Means of Egress (numerous locations, draft definition in CI 3.3.22.2)
  • Revised interior exit discharge provisions (7.7.2)
  • Revised communicating space provisions to permit smoke detection in lieu of openness (8.6.6)
  • New requirements for low-frequency alarm signals (9.6.2.10.3, 9.6.3.3)
  • New requirement for fire department two-way radio communication enhancement systems in new and existing buildings in accordance with the fire code (9.15)
  • New requirements for outdoor furnishings adjacent to buildings (10.4)
  • New requirement for automatic sprinklers in all new assembly occupancy bars and restaurants (12.3.5.1)
  • Revised classroom door locking requirements for existing educational and day care occupancies (15.2.2.2.4, 17.2.2.2.6)
  • Revised construction limits for existing nursing homes (19.1.6)
  • New requirement for automatic sprinklers in existing high-rise buildings containing ambulatory health care occupancies (21.4.3.1)
  • New requirement for carbon monoxide detection in existing hotels and dormitories (29.3.4.6)
  • New provisions for valet trash services in apartment buildings (30.7.5, 31.7.5)
  • Removal of engineered life safety system option for existing, high-rise apartment buildings; new 12-year phase-in for mandatory automatic sprinkler systems (31.3.5.12)

Several CIs were also developed for the purpose of soliciting public comments:

  • Proposed Annex A language on dynamic exit signage (7.10.2, CI-6568)
  • Proposed mezzanine area limits with automatic sprinklers (8.6.10.2, CI-6598)
  • Proposed revised school fire drill provisions (14.7.2.4, CI-6914)
  • Proposed mandatory requirement for automatic sprinklers in all new day care occupancies (16.3.5.1, CI-6910)

While this list is not intended to be all-inclusive, it touches on what I think are the “big proposed changes” for the next edition of the Code. Your comments are vital to ensuring that a broad range of stakeholder interests are considered by the NFPA 101 technical committees. For a video overview of these proposed revisions, NFPA members can check out my NFPA Live ARCHIVE: A Preview of the NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2021 Edition FIRST DRAFT from this past January.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, stay safe!

Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”

Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

The First Draft Reports for NFPA Standards in the Annual 2020 revision cycle are available.  Review the First Draft Reports for use as background in the submission of public comments.

To submit a public comment using the online submission system, use the List of NFPA codes & standards  to search for the Standard or select the link below in the list.  Once on the document page, select the link "Submit a Public Comment" to begin the process. You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using this system. If you have any questions when using the system, a chat feature is available or contact us by email or phone at 1-800-344-3555.

Unless otherwise noted below*, The deadline to submit a public comment through the online system is May 8, 2019. These proposed Standards with First Draft Reports in the Annual 2020 revision cycle are as follows:

  • NFPA 1, Fire Code *June 5, 2019
  • NFPA 3, Standard for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems
  • NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing
  • NFPA 17, Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 17A, Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 30A, Code for Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages
  • NFPA 54, National Fuel Gas Code
  • NFPA 59, Utility LP-Gas Plant Code
  • NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®
  • NFPA 73, Standard for Electrical Inspections for Existing Dwellings
  • NFPA 90A, Standard for the Installation of Air-Conditioning and Ventilating Systems
  • NFPA 90B, Standard for the Installation of Warm Air Heating and Air-Conditioning Systems
  • NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations
  • NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code
  • NFPA 99B, Standard for Hypobaric Facilities
  • NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®
  • NFPA 160, Standard for the Use of Flame Effects Before an Audience
  • NFPA 220, Standard on Types of Building Construction
  • NFPA 221, Standard for High Challenge Fire Walls, Fire Walls, and Fire Barrier Walls
  • NFPA 303, Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards
  • NFPA 307, Standard for the Construction and Fire Protection of Marine Terminals, Piers, and Wharves
  • NFPA 312, Standard for Fire Protection of Vessels During Construction, Conversion, Repair, and Lay-Up
  • NFPA 496, Standard for Purged and Pressurized Enclosures for Electrical Equipment *May 16, 2019
  • NFPA 497, Recommended Practice for the Classification of Flammable Liquids, Gases, or Vapors and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas *May 16, 2019
  • NFPA 499, Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas *May 16, 2019
  • NFPA 703, Standard for Fire Retardant—Treated Wood and Fire–Retardant Coatings for Building Materials
  • NFPA 770, Standard on Hybrid (Water and Inert Gas) Fire Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 790, Standard for Competency of Third-Party Field Evaluation Bodies
  • NFPA 791, Recommended Practice and Procedures for Unlabeled Electrical Equipment Evaluation
  • NFPA 1006, Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1126, Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience
  • NFPA 1192, Standard on Recreational Vehicles
  • NFPA 1194, Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks and Campgrounds
  • NFPA 1801, Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service
  • NFPA 1952, Standard on Surface Water Operations Protective Clothing and Equipment
  • NFPA 1953, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Contaminated Water Diving
  • NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program *June 5, 2019
  • NFPA 5000®, Building Construction and Safety Code®

The First Draft Reports for the following Standards are delayed and thus, have revised public comment closing dates.  Check the document information pages for current posting and closing date information:

  • NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code  
  • NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigation
  • NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus
  • NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus

The First Draft Report serves as documentation of the Input Stage and is published for public review and comment. The First Draft Report contains a compilation of the First Draft of the NFPA Standard, First Revisions, Public Input, Committee Input, Committee Statements, and Ballot Results and Statements. Where applicable, the First Draft Report also contains First Correlating Revisions, Correlating Notes, and Correlating Input.

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To this end, NFPA is pleased to announce that the 2019 edition of the NFPA Standards Directory is now available to download, for free. The Directory contains great information including:

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  • The Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards, Technical Meeting Convention Rules, and other procedures
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NFPA mission's is accomplished by advocating consensus standards, research, training, and education for safety-related issues. Learn more about the process and how you can get involved. Download your free copy of the NFPA Standards Directory today. 

 

Why do so many of us get wrapped around the axle? We are all committed to electrical safety. We all know that removing an electrical hazard is a good thing. But is removing the hazard the same as eliminating the hazard? Can a hazard only be permanently eliminated? If so, does this mean a hazard can only be temporarily removed but not temporarily eliminated? I might be an instigator of this confusion because I never expected it to be an issue. I do believe that a hazard that never exists should be the goal. I have often stated that “full elimination of the hazard is often not an option for installed equipment. Although elimination also can be achieved by applying other controls such as through establishing an electrically safe work condition (ESWC), these other controls introduce a potential for human error. Therefore, the initial attempt should be full elimination of the hazard.” I do not believe such a statement alters meaning of the word elimination. I was not aware that elimination has a time component for many of you. I haven’t found a definition of elimination that includes a time base. Here is the problem.

 

Many in the electrical safety industry consider the hierarchy of risk controls to first eliminate the electrical hazard. This is such that there is no electrical hazard at any time. I agree. NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® states that it includes installation of electrical equipment but such work is typically not conducted while energized. I believe the electrical safety of employees should be addressed at design and installation regardless whether NFPA 70E applies at that time or not. Under this belief, I have stated that full elimination of the hazard should be considered at design of the equipment as well as the design of the electrical system. I hold on to that belief since attempting it will protect future employees by making electrical installations safer. I would then consider the rest of the hierarchy for the installation to further control hazards and risks while the system design, equipment selection and installation are being considered.

 

For many of users of NFPA 70E, a problem comes with requirement in 105.4 that hazard elimination be the first priority. Another issue is many reference another standard where elimination only means “total elimination.” That fixed idea may not be applicable to elimination within NFPA 70E. It is typically not possible to permanently eliminate the hazard using work the practices required by NFPA 70E. Once equipment has been installed my concept of hazard elimination shifts but my definition of elimination does not. When using the hierarchy of risk controls for work practices on installed equipment, I run down the list again. Full elimination, substitution, and engineering controls are typically not possible. This brings me to the other controls (administrative, awareness, personal protective equipment (PPE). Under NFPA 70E these lead to establishing an ESWC which temporarily removes (or eliminates) electrical hazards in a specific location for a finite period of time. This leads many to believe that they have not met the goal of “elimination” of the hazard as a first priority. Many consider only full removal of the hazard as in the first context (previous paragraph) to be elimination, therefore removal of the hazard in this second context cannot also mean elimination.

 

I must be missing something. A sports team is eliminated from the playoffs, they are not eliminated from the league. It is a temporary thing. When a hazard is verified as not being present, it has been removed or eliminated regardless of time. There are many intricacies of requirements in a standard that you must handle on your own. NFPA 70E is no different and elimination is one of those. NFPA 70E does not mention permanent or temporary elimination of a hazard, it is simply elimination. To my knowledge I have never stated that the only elimination of a hazard is permanent elimination. I have said that the process of establishing an ESWC is not the elimination control but it results in the elimination of the hazard. There is a difference. But it is just what the standard required by eliminating the hazard through work processes. The employee will not be injured since there is no electrical hazard present where the task is being performed. You will not convince me that permanent elimination should not be considered first. However, if permanent removal of the hazard is not possible then removal of the hazard on a temporary basis is a very effective method of protecting an employee. I also do not believe that an ESWC be a default work practice without further considering ways to mitigate the hazard or risk.

 

I expect that much of the second draft meeting will be spent addressing the meaning of the word elimination. If full elimination or an attempt to mitigate a hazard is not addressed, many of you will ignore the hierarchy and only establish an ESWC on all equipment. On the other hand, if elimination only means an ESWC, the safety of future electrical employees will continue to be jeopardized by not mitigating the exposed hazard during the process of establishing the ESWC. Since the concern has been raised, we are getting wrapped around the axle on meaning of the word elimination. But I am not sure how many do not understand what it means and how to use it in regards to NFPA 70E. The solution may be worse than the problem it is trying to solve.

 

For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange

 

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Next time: Equipment that has electrical hazards beyond what safety equipment is designed for.

 

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