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In July of 2017, lightning sparked a fire at the Chesapeake Crossing Senior Community Apartments in Virginia. Now, the family of a woman who died in the fire at the senior living complex has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the management and corporate owner of the buildings. According to news reports, the suit alleges that the apartments and management “negligently failed” to provide proper maintenance for the complex, thus “endangered the lives” of the residents.

An attorney representing the family filing the suit described the complex as housing for “seniors with low income and limited mobility,” and thus alleged that the owner had a “duty” to maintain safe living conditions for its residents.

“That comes with serious responsibility when you’re caring for the elderly,” the attorney explained.

So what does that “responsibility” look like for owners, builders, architects and engineers in terms of the design and build process?

Officials from the senior care facility have stated that the building complex was “in compliance with the building code” and “equipped with smoke detectors and a sprinkler system.” But in terms of achieving serious safety, building code requirements—which typically mandate minimum requirements—often fall short.

According to NFPA sources, fires at senior care facilities are especially challenging and often necessitate more operational protocol and tasks than standard first alarm fire responders can handle. This is a major reason why many fire safety officials upgrade these fires to bring in second or multiple alarm assignments. Since a large percentage of our senior population is incapable of self-evacuating or recognizing a threat, swift response times and appropriate self-rescue tactics are not the expected emergency response for residents at senior facilities.

Detecting fires as soon as they start, keeping them from spreading and vigilance about fire detection, suppression and maintenance are expected safety practices. Unfortunately, many facilities fall short when it comes to implementing measures like lightning protection systems (LPS), which are designed to prevent storm-initiated fires in the first place.

Here’s a look at some of the mayhem that could have been prevented at the Chesapeake Crossing Senior Community Apartments, if lightning protection had been installed on the center’s structures:

Deaths of three residents

·        Deaths of three residents

·        Injuries to six others (including two firefighters)

·        A four-alarm fire, damaging three out of five of the community’s buildings

·        Numerous displaced residents from 144 apartments left uninhabitable

·        A multitude of insurance claims

·        A wrongful death lawsuit, with additional suits expected to follow soon

Assisted living facilities manage an important goal: care and housing for residents who are typically unable to live independently. Residents and their families trust these facilities to evaluate safety and potential risks to occupants, buildings and operations. When considering the potential risk lightning poses to seniors in terms of safety, susceptibility and disruption, shouldn’t the cost (often minimal!) of lightning protection be evaluated as standard protocol for assisted living facilities and housing centers?

Knowing how to react in a fire is especially important for the aging population. As such, the NFPA provides these fire safety tips for older adults.

Insights into the nature of lightning and advances in the lightning protection system (LPS) industry are helping to redefine our understanding of the weather hazard and its impact to people, property and places.

 

Here’s the Lightning Protection Institute’s (LPI) look back at a few striking reports about lightning and lightning protection as shared by scientific, economic and industry experts in 2018:

 

Lightning “Mapper” Shares Data Previously Unavailable to Forecasters

Last May, the NOAA GOES-17 satellite transmitted its first Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). The revolutionary animation provides insight into thunderstorm formation and activity by sharing data never previously available to forecasters. Scientists say that the GLM helps forecasters anticipate severe weather to help issue appropriate weather alerts sooner. In dry areas of the U.S., information from the GLM may be of special assistance to firefighters in identifying regions prone to wildfires sparked by lightning.  

 

Climate Change Increasing the Risk of Lightning-ignited Fires?

According to a study published in ScienceDaily, the earth could expect to see a 12% increase in lightning activity associated with forecasts of temperature warming. The study claims the U.S. alone, could experience as much as a 50% increase in strikes by the turn of the century. While the findings don’t suggest that lightning increases will occur everywhere, they do predict that increased activity can be expected in many regions—including areas of historically less lightning activity due to overly humid or wet conditions.

 

Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Lightning!

Researchers may have uncovered clues to the mystery behind a phenomenon known as “ball lightning.”  Laboratory experiments by scientists at Amherst College in the U.S. and Aalto University in Finland led to the observation of a three-dimensional knot of atoms, called a skyrmion that closely resembles documented accounts of ball lightning. Described as magnetic spins composed of atoms in quantum gas, these skyrmion were first theorized some 40 years ago. According to scientists, future studies of skyrmion could pave the way for advancements in fusion reactors, while also helping to explain the mysterious natural occurrence of ball lightning.

 

Be Aware, Lightning Happens EVERYWHERE…

While working to spread awareness about lightning safety and increase education about lightning protection, LPI uncovered several new statistics about lightning and its very real fire risk. Unfortunately, most Americans are uninformed about the dangers lightning poses to homes, businesses and communities. To educate people about the underrated fire hazard associated with lightning, LPI compiled a shocking sampling of 2018 media reports in a new infographic.

 

Inspection Service Meets LPS Industry Needs for Quality Control

Recognizing a need for more stringent emphasis on quality control, the Lightning Protection Institute Inspection Program (LPI-IP), expanded services for third-party lightning protection review and certification. LPI-IP is the only third-party certifying organization that verifies lightning protection system completeness, proper materials and methods, code compliance and notification for future assessments; including needed repairs or maintenance. “Ensuring lightning protection compliance to national safety standards and project specifications is an essential part of quality control for construction managers, property owners and building occupants,” explained Tim Harger, LPI-IP program manager. Quality control and standard compliance may be two important reasons why LPI-IP’s services are increasingly in demand in the marketplace.

 

Grant Helps Protect African’s Most Vulnerable from Lightning

The Ludwick Family Foundation announced it will provide a $99,000 grant to the African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics Network (ACLENET) to install lightning protection systems at Uganda schools and provide education to help African teachers, students and parents better understand lightning’s dangers and prepare themselves against its threat. Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, managing director for ACLENET described a “tremendous” outpouring of support from donors and volunteers assisting with the organization’s mission to protect Africa’s most vulnerable from the deadly lightning threat. 

 

Lightning Included in “Big Weather” Conversation at NDRC

LPI was among presenters from organizations such as FEMA, IBHS, ICC, NOAA, NWS, Smart Home America, State Farm, The Weather Channel and others at the 2018 National Disaster Resilience Conference (NDRC) in Clearwater, FL. Communications director, Kimberly Loehr joined the panel of “Big Practice” experts at the NDRC in November to share a presentation about the growth of LPI’s “Build & Protect” initiative and how lightning protection systems are helping to further community level resilience.

 

Lightning Zaps Football Fun for Players and Fans  

In what may have been the first in the history of sporting events, the First Responder Bowl game was ruled a no contest after lightning forced the cancellation of the football match-up between Boston College and Boise State on December 26. Play in Dallas was halted in the first quarter when lightning activity prompted officials to clear the field.  After a 90 minute delay, officials called the game due to weather forecasts calling for persistent thunderstorm activity in the area.

 

Forecast Calls for Growth in the Global LPS Market

Research released by the global lightning protection system market cites pronounced growth expected for the industry in upcoming years. With lightning protection systems increasingly employed for buildings, homes, medical facilities, military compounds, factories, towers and even the Space Shuttle’s launch pad, the LPS industry is seeing record-breaking growth. And as more buildings are equipped with sensitive electronics and automated “smart” systems, the demand for LPS is likely to continue its increase.

 

Lightning’s Future File

It doesn’t take a psychic to know that if lightning events become more frequent, the likeliness of being affected by the weather peril that already affects the most people, most of the time, in the most places of the U.S., will also increase. Understanding the lightning threat and preparing people, property and places for the increased risk may be more critical in the future, than ever before.

 

The Lightning Protection Institute is a not-for-profit nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.

Lightning is fascinating but it’s also destructive and deadly. Scientists tell us that the earth experiences about 25 million lightning strikes per year. But what if that number of strikes were to significantly increase, or even double in the near future? Where will that leave vulnerable infrastructure in terms of expensive power losses, unscheduled down time and lost productivity due to increased surge incidents, or worse yet, full-scale fire losses due to lightning?

 

According to a study published in the journal ScienceDaily, we could expect to see a “12% increase in lightning” activity associated with forecasts of temperature warming, with the U.S. experiencing as much as a “50% increase in strikes by the turn of the century.”

 

“We think that by having warmer oceans and warmer temperature in general, we’re going to see higher evaporation and heat transfer, and thus higher frequency of convective storms that in turn results in more lighting-ignited fires,” said Andres Holtz, geography professor at PSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and co-lead author of the journal study. “And with a climate mode such as SAM (Southern Annular Mode), stuck in its positive, fire prone phase that seems to amplify climate change, it doesn’t look good,” added Holtz.

 

While Holtz cautions the findings don’t suggest that there will be increases in lightning fires everywhere, they do suggest increased activity can be expected in many regions–including areas that have historically seen less activity due to overly humid or wet conditions.

 

"These trends are expected worldwide, not just in the Southern Hemisphere,” explained Holtz.

 

If lightning becomes more frequent, the likeliness of being affected by the weather peril that already affects the most people, most of the time in the most places of the U.S., will also increase. So understanding the threat and preparing people, property and places for the increased risk is critical. Three measures that safety stakeholders can support now to help prepare tomorrow’s communities for lightning, are:

 

1.      Insurance incentives for safety standard-compliant lightning protection systems (LPS).

2.      Increased education and promotion of safety standard-compliant LPS--specifically NFPA 780.

3.      Expanded risk assessment measures to gauge the lightning hazard in the building development process.

Stakeholders looking to keep pace with lightning protection news and industry trends that are helping to build lightning safe communities, can subscribe to LPI’s free “Build & Protect” newsletter at www.lightning.org.

In Support of National Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13  

 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) today's home fires burn faster than ever. In a typical home fire, residents may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time smoke is visible or an alarm sounds. Understanding the risks and knowing how to react quickly and wisely can mean the difference between life and death in a fire event.

 

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is teaming up with the NFPA -- the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week™ for more than 90 years-to promote this year's campaign, "Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere™," which works to educate the public about basic but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire. NFPA statistics show that the number of U.S. home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.

 

"These numbers show that while we've made significant progress in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there's still much more work to do in terms of educating the public about how to protect themselves in the event of one," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "This is particularly critical, given the increased speed at which today's home fires grow and spread."

 

Carli notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place people are at greatest risk to fire, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That over-confidence contributes to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.

 

While the NFPA campaign is focusing on home fires, their fire safety messages apply to virtually any structure and any type of structural fire-including those sparked by lightning. 

 

In working to spread awareness about lightning safety and increase education about lightning protection, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) has come to realize that most Americans are uninformed about the dangers of lightning; including its very real fire risk. Lightning's extreme electrical charge can induce destructive surges through a building's circuitry, puncture pinholes in CSST gas piping, explode brick and roofing, and ignite many types of structural fires. Insurance incident reports indicate that it only takes a single lightning strike to spark a devastating fire. And increasing news reports of lightning fires at countless homes and structures in the U.S. reveal that these tragic situations occur more often than people realize.

 

For property owners who don't want to play the odds with lightning, a professionally-installed, safety standard compliant lightning protection system is a viable idea. Lightning protection systems (LPS) that follow the guidelines of NFPA 780, provide a network of low-resistance paths to safely intercept lightning's destructive electricity and direct it to ground without impact to a structure or its occupants.

 

Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go, but unfortunately people make choices in lightning and fire situations that jeopardize their safety or even cost them their lives. By sharing facts and education resources during Fire Prevention Week, LPI hopes to increase awareness about an underrated fire hazard and help build support for lightning safety initiatives, at the same time.

 

To educate people about the fire dangers of lightning and the benefits of lightning protection systems for homes and structures, LPI created a new infographic to support this year's "Look. Listen. Learn." campaign. The NFPA 2018 campaign highlights three important steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape any fire scenario:

 

  • Look for places fire could start.
  • Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm.
  • Learn two ways out of every room.

 

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, visit www.firepreventionweek.org

 

LPI is leading a Build and Protect effort for lightning safety by providing important lightning protection resources for property owners, insurance providers, architects, engineers and construction planners. When safety stakeholders take a proactive mitigation approach to the lightning hazard, they help prevent lightning-sparked fires at all types of structures. For safety and quality assurance, LPI-IP provides third-party inspection and certification services to ensure lightning protection system compliance with nationally-recognized safety standards.

 

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.

 

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According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 95,000 apartment structure fires occurred in the U.S. in 2016.  How many of these fires were sparked by lightning is unclear, but a quick Google search of the words “lightning, fires and apartments” reveals news accounts of dozens of lightning-sparked property losses throughout the country–and that’s just this summer. With thunderstorm season ramping up in July, the number of lightning-sparked apartment fires is likely to increase—if not double by the end of September.

 

Finding accurate statistical information for any property loss due to lightning is already challenging, as available data is comprised of estimates derived from the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and an annual survey of U.S. fire departments.  According to NFPA, NFIRS is a voluntary system, with an estimated two-thirds of U.S. fire departments participating. And of those who are participating, not all provide data every year. FEMA data cites that fires reported to federal or state fire departments or industrial fire brigades are also omitted in the NFIRS estimates. Furthermore, since lightning fire classification charts published by NFPA  have cited exclusions of fires at “apartments or other multi-family housing,” data about lightning-sparked fires at U.S. apartment complexes has been virtually non-existent. (Disclaimer/Challenge: This author was unable to obtain these statistics, but urges readers to cite or share pertinent data.)

 

Determining who the gatekeepers are and locating the accurate data is only part of the puzzle. When it comes to lightning and apartment buildings, it’s also unclear as to who is calling the shots and making the final decisions regarding risk assessment, tolerable risk and whether lightning protection should be employed as mitigation. According to Virginia construction sources contacted for this blog, “developers and home builders typically play leading roles in the design and construction of residential buildings and apartment complexes with building codes and standards (voluntary or otherwise), serving as key drivers in the construction decision-making process.” Sources added that “many structural systems and requirements for various building amenities are identified and finalized during schematic design and design development.”

 

When it comes to lightning protection specification, engineers, architects, safety professionals and building owners, typically rely on the NFPA Risk Assessment methodology (found in NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems) to determine the risk of damage due to lightning. The NFPA risk index compares the expected direct strikes to the structure with the occupancy and contents to evaluate whether lightning protection should be specified or considered optional. When evaluating the lightning risk, the methodology takes into account these factors:

 

  • Type of construction
  • Structure occupancy
  • Structure contents
  • Lightning stroke consequences

 

Although Risk Assessment methodology provides a formula for gauging potential for the lightning hazard, a practical guideline for building risk assessment is to weigh consideration of the probability of a lightning event and the consequences of such an event at a given location.  Oftentimes, the presence of a single risk factor is more than enough to render a structure vulnerable and in need of protection. Since a lightning strike can introduce a chain reaction of destruction, structures that house large numbers of people—like nursing homes, hospitals, schools and apartment complexes, should certainly be considered as prime candidates for lightning protection.

 

When calling the shots for building lightning safe, it certainly makes sense for planners to heed the advice of NFPA emergency service experts and include community officials, first responders and the local fire marshal in the risk assessment process. Per NFPA recommendations, “including your response community as part of the risk assessment is beneficial, as local experts have tactical knowledge, in revealing vulnerabilities because they have that mindset.”

 

In closing, I’d like to make a final pitch to our fire safety professionals to include lightning in their NFIRS and NFPA reports wherever relevant, so that communities and decision-makers can have an accurate strike count. When fire professionals and first responders “umpire” lightning safety, it helps prevent under-reporting about a potentially-devastating weather hazard and increases awareness about a preventable risk.

 

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) provides education materials and resources for building planners and community officials to consider when weighing the lightning risk. Visit the LPI website and LPI’s Build and Protect A&E portal for free information.

 

Information about fire's risk to apartment and condominiums, along with life-saving steps residents can take in the event of a fire, are available at these FEMA and NFPA web links.

Lightning Safety Awareness Week Twitter Chat for Monday, June 25th  lightning safety and lightning protection education

Be sure to join the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) next Monday as we partner to host a Twitter Chat during Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 24-30, 2018.

#LightningSafetyWeek aims to educate the public about lightning safety and lightning protection with the hope of reducing electrical fires, electrical injuries, and electrocutions caused by lightning. ESFI and LPI are calling upon our network of electrical safety ambassadors and our building lightning safe communities supporters to be a part of the dialogue!

The chat will take place on Monday, June 25th, 2018 at 2 p.m. EDT. RSVP and receive more information by emailing andrea.vinas@esfi.org or participate in real time on Twitter using the hashtag #LightningSafetyWeek.

Mark your calendars for a week from today, June 25 and be sure to join the enlightening conversation for #LightningSafetyWeek!

Looking to learn more about lightning safety or lightning protection? Follow these links for additional information and educational resources. 

Lightning Facts and Statistics
Lightning Safety Videos
Consumer Alert: The Dangers of Shoddy Lightning Protection System Installations
Lightning Protection Inspection Services for Quality Assurance 

Additional Partner Resources:

NOAA/National Weather Service

National Lightning Safety Council

Insurance Information Institute for Business & Home Safety

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes-FLASH

The Lightning Safety Alliance

 

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Historic structures possess unique characteristics that require elevated levels of scrutiny for insurance, safety, building maintenance and risk management. These thorough levels of examination can delve even deeper depending upon whether the structure is a “certified historic rehabilitation” (eligible for tax credits) or a recognized historic landmark that is a designated part of a property, building or locality.

Anyone who has ever owned, managed, maintained or worked on or around a historic building can appreciate the litany of factors involved when it comes to preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation of these properties. It’s not just age that makes these buildings more expensive to replace or repair after damage has occurred; it’s more typically the design, construction and building components found in historic structures that make them more vulnerable to damage—especially by fire. And as we know, a single bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy, making the threat of fire from a direct strike or indirect surge, a serious concern for historic buildings and landmarks.

For property stakeholders concerned about lightning, the National Park Service has released a Lightning Protection Preservation Brief, written by Charles E. Fisher, which graciously references acknowledgements to several members of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) who contributed information and materials. The 20-page, illustrated document provides lightning protection system (LPS) guidance for property owners and trades involved in the preservation of historic structures. Although lightning protection isn’t necessarily a mandatory requirement just because a building is historic, the brief includes a clear reminder regarding the role of lightning protection for these structures: “As an irreplaceable cultural resource, historic structures at risk of damage or loss from a lightning strike merit protection.”

The document features a wealth of lightning protection information, including detailed reference sections for the following:

 

* Maintenance and repair of historic and older LPS

* Inspection and evaluation of LPS on historic properties

* Factors to consider when assessing need for LPS

* Historic preservation guidance re: design/installation of new LPS

* LPS and re-roofing concerns for historic structures

* Historical information re: LPS codes and standards

* Spotlight case studies of historical properties

 

Since lightning makes no distinction between new or old construction, lightning protection should be a serious consideration in terms of risk management and insurance for all structures—but especially for historic buildings, where irreplaceable items, heritage and cultural values could be eradicated in a fraction of a second, if lightning were to strike.

In Support of National Fire Prevention Week, October 8-14.

It’s the middle of the night when you and your family are awakened by a loud boom of a thunder-clap. Your windows rattle as you feel your house shake. Your instincts tell you your home has been struck by lightning, but what should you do?

“Anyone who suspects a lightning strike to their home should immediately check their enclosed spaces, like the attic and basement—even if the smoke alarm isn’t sounding and even if you don’t smell smoke,” said Georgia State Fire Marshal, Dwayne Garriss.

According to Garriss, lightning-sparked fires occur more often than people realize. Because lightning is the weather event that affects most people in most parts of the country, it’s important for homeowners to take the threat seriously and have a plan of action.

A lingering acrid smell or fallen debris from damaged chimneys or shingles can be evidence of a lightning strike,” explained Garriss. “Since lightning fires aren’t always visible in their beginning stages, it’s important to investigate your property and call the fire department immediately.”

“Lightning is extreme electricity that can carry up to 300 million volts of energy,” said Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). “When you compare lightning with an average household electrical current of 120 volts and 15 amps, you understand how devastating a lightning strike can be to an unprotected home.”

This past summer, lightning-sparked fires claimed the lives of homeowners and senior citizens in several U.S. states, including: New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Since it only takes a single lightning strike to ignite a devastating fire, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), created a new infographic to illustrate the numerous ways lightning can enter a home, including:

  • Through a direct strike that can ignite fires or explode roofing, brick or concrete
  • Via roof projections like weather vanes, antennas and satellite dishes
  • Through a strike to a chimney or prominent roof dormer
  • Via telephone or power lines that can harm internal wiring and electronic equipment
  • Via surges or side flash delivered through a nearby tree
  • Through home systems like garage doors or cable lines
  • Via home amenities like irrigation systems, invisible fences and electric gates
  • Through metallic lines, piping or CSST gas piping

The I.I.I. and LPI encourage property owners to investigate the benefits of a professionally-installed lightning protection system (LPS) to mitigate the lightning threat. Lightning protection systems that follow the guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provide a network of low-resistance paths to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants.

LPI is a proud supporter of the NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, October 8-14, 2017. This year’s campaign theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” seeks to educate the public about the importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. In any fire, including those sparked by lightning, seconds count and can determine the difference between a safe escape or a tragedy.

LPI is leading a ‘Build and Protect’ effort for lightning safety by providing important lightning protection resources for property owners, architects, engineers and construction planners,” explained VanSickle. “Taking a proactive mitigation approach can help prevent lightning-sparked fires at all types of structures.”

To learn more about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out” and home escape planning, visit firepreventionweek.org.

LPI is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.

Lightning was responsible for another tragic fire that claimed three lives at a senior living center in Chesapeake, VA this week. News reports referenced fire alarms, sprinkler systems and NFPA 13, but unfortunately failed to mention how lightning protection systems, like those outlined in NFPA 780, can help prevent these tragic events.

NFPA codes and standards are designed to ensure the safety of products, activities or processes. When it comes to lightning protection systems (LPS), the difference between “safe and effective” and “unsafe and ineffective” lightning protection is ultimately related to which guidelines are implemented.

 

Over the years, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) has shared a wealth of information about the importance of compliance with the national safety standards for LPS. Despite the wealth of information shared, confusion and misunderstanding about lightning protection specification, design, installation and quality assurance persists. Oftentimes, LPS is omitted from construction project plans altogether--typically due to lack of knowledge about these systems and their benefits. Since a review of the fundamentals of any code or standard can be helpful, here are four “W’s” to better acquaint you with NFPA 780, the Safety Standard that sets the quality standard for lightning protection design and installation.

 

What? 

Often considered the grandfather of lightning protection, NFPA 780 provides valuable resource information for AHJs, project designers, engineers, insurance professionals and anyone responsible for the protection of lives and property from dangers associated with lightning. NFPA also serves as the basis for the LPI-175 Standard of Practice for the Design-Installation-Inspection of Lightning Protection Systems reference document, which is commonly used by LPI-certified designers and installers and LPI-IP inspectors. NFPA 780 covers lightning protection system installation requirements for structures, watercraft, wind turbines, industrial stacks and other special occupancies. Lightning protection guidance for new construction and building trends (including solar systems, arrays, catenary systems, airfield lighting, rooftop equipment) are also addressed, with new information and sections added to the Standard in conjunction with the three-year review process.  Information added to the 2017 edition of NFPA 780 to address new safety challenges includes:

* Occupancy-specific safety, design and protection protocol

* Updated information for hazardous, combustible and explosive conditions

* Revisions to address protection for structures containing flammable vapors, gases or liquids

* Revisions to assist facility managers, installers, inspectors and AHJ’s with on-site inspections and periodic maintenance

* New definitions for commonly misunderstood lightning protection terms

* Updated illustrations for the placement of lightning protection components

* New bonding requirements for metal bodies

* New Annex sections (there are now 15 in total in the 2017 edition) added to address new building technologies, such as: protection of smart structures and SPD guidance for the selection of SPD’s for photovoltaic installations

 

Why?  

NFPA 780 is the principle lightning protection Standard in the U.S. and a primary implementing document for the IEC 62305 (International Electrotechnical Commission) series of documents. NFPA 780 also provides the foundation for numerous specialized lightning protection documents for organizations such as the DOD, DOE, NASA and the FAA. Prior to the development of the IEC series, NFPA 780 was routinely referenced and used worldwide.

 

When?

The NFPA first adopted “Specifications for Protection of Buildings Against Lightning” in 1905. Revised editions of the early code (and subsequent standard) continued to be adopted by NFPA throughout the century. In 1992 the numerical designation of the document was changed from “78 “to “780” and the name “Lightning Protection Code” was revised to “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems” to conform with the NFPA’s routine method of naming documents. Since NFPA 780 contains installation requirements, it is more appropriately termed an installation “standard” rather than a “code.”

 

Where?  

The 2017 Edition of NFPA 780, prepared by Technical Committee on Lightning Protection was issued by the Standards Council and approved as an American National Standard on June 2, 2016. The new document can be viewed free online at: http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards?mode=code&code=780.

 

Curious about the How?  

Contact a LPI-certified specialist through the LPI membership directory to learn how a NFPA 780-compliant lightning protection system can help protect your home or business.

In support of national Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 18-24.

#LightningSafetyWeek, #LightningProtection, #NFPA780 

The NWS and NOAA launched the National Lightning Safety Awareness Week campaign in 2001 to raise awareness about the dangers of lightning, a deadly, yet underrated killer. The Lightning Protection Institute joined the campaign effort in 2007 as partners, to provide messaging about lightning protection for structures, and explain how NFPA 780 Safety Standard-compliant LPS can make safe places safer. Since the beginning of the campaign, lightning deaths in the U.S. have dramatically dropped. Unfortunately, property and structural losses due to lightning continue to rise.

In support of this year’s LSA Week campaign, June 18-24, LPI is emphasizing the importance of protecting people, property and places. Once again, we are partnering with the National Lightning Safety Council to encourage awareness and share information throughout the week on several topics:

  • Sunday: An Introduction to Lightning and Lightning Safety
  • Monday: The Science of Lightning and Thunder
  • Tuesday: Lightning Safety Outdoors
  • Wednesday: Lightning Safety Indoors
  • Thursday: Lightning Safety and Sports Activities
  • Friday: Medical Effects on Lightning Victims
  • Saturday: Protecting Your Home from Lightning

Help us build lightning safe communities by learning more about lightning’s dangers, and by sharing these important safety and protection resources! Finally, please remember to heed the advice of our pal and lightning safety ambassador, Lion the Lightning Lion: “When thunder roars, go indoors!”