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Fire Protection Research Foundation celebrates 40 years of reducing risk in the world by collaborating with industry experts and informing audiences
Celebrating four decades of investing in safety Last week, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF or Foundation), the research affiliate of NFPA, marked its 40th year of managing projects that summarize best practices, identify gaps, and further the development of technologies that reduce risk in our world. When the Foundation was established in 1982, the objective was to protect people and property by improving fire protection systems and life safety messaging for practitioners, policy makers, and the public. The scope of the FPRF’s work has increased significantly over the decades given the all-hazards role of responders, new and persistent building and life safety challenges, evolving outreach needs, and emerging issues domestically and abroad. Like NFPA, the Foundation is an independent, nongovernmental, self-funded organization. It has its own separate board of trustees and a small but effective team that manages dozens of projects at any given time. These efforts cover everything from fire suppression systems, emergency response, public education, detection and signaling, industrial hazards, wildfire, electrical services, and the built environment. Collaboration is key to the Foundation’s 40-year success. Working with NFPA staff, FPRF trustees, professionals, and organizations around the globe, the team plans, facilitates, and releases research that helps to inform diverse audiences. In fact, FPRF research has been downloaded in more than 160 countries because of the valuable insights found within. A primary responsibility of the FPRF is to support the NFPA mission of eliminating loss in the world, and they can’t do that in a vacuum. The team relies on project sponsors to fund efforts; contractors to do the research; and advisory panels to provide subject matter expertise. To shed further light on the 40-year FPRF milestone and the important work being done, with the help of so many others, we asked a couple of Foundation trustees to share their thoughts on efforts to make the world safer from harm. First responder skills and safety Gavin Horn, a research engineer with Underwriters Laboratories Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), recently concluded two terms as an FPRF trustee. During that time, he watched executive director Amanda Kimball and her predecessor Casey Grant oversee forward-thinking research that will have long-lasting safety benefits. Horn explains, “Research is important for first responders and firefighters, in particular, because it helps to provide a deeper understanding of risks that are faced on today’s emergency response calls and those that might be faced in the future. The world that firefighters respond to is continuously evolving, and sometimes those changes can have important impacts on how emergencies might unfold and how they might be resolved. Research – along with on-the-job experience – is important as we strive to learn about risks and help first responders to understand how to mitigate an emergency effectively and safely.” Horn has been involved in several NFPA standards committees over the years including the Special Operations Protective Clothing & Equipment technical committee as well as the relatively new committees that developed NFPA 1700, Guide for Structural Firefighting (Fundamentals of Fire Control within a Structure Utilizing Fire Dynamics). He is also involved in work underway now for NFPA 1585, Standard on Contamination Control (Emergency Responder Occupational Health). Both NFPA 1700 and NFPA 1585 have a strong basis in fire service research and have benefited from FPRF projects. The former FPRF trustee also shares that Fire Fighter Equipment Operational Environment: Evaluation of Thermal Conditions and Fireground Exposure of Firefighters: A Literature Review are two key documents that help to frame the typical environments in which firefighters work. These reports, per Horn, provide insights for firefighter training, PPE specification and selection, and help manufacturers with design. FPRF findings also provide a foundation for researchers to work from. Scientific research and engineering expertise “Research provides the knowledge needed to ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous society. Timely knowledge from technically sound research is more important than ever as the world changes at an unprecedented rate, producing new and more complex risks. The ability to make informed decisions for policy and practice relies on scientific research to understand risks and produce practical solutions to manage them,” Lou Gritzo, Ph.D. explains. Gritzo is one of nine current FPRF trustees. The vice president of Research for FM Global became familiar with the Foundation 16 years ago when he was invited to get to know the organization by then NFPA president Jim Shannon. He has been a FPRF trustee for a year and served on the Foundation’s research advisory board for five years prior to taking on the trustee role. He also serves as the FM Global management contact for the Property Insurance Research Group and the Energy Storage Research Consortium – two advisory groups that are part of the respected FPRF consensus-building process. In other words, he has had a front row seat to how the Foundation works and makes an impact. Gritzo points to the Foundation’s work on Li-Ion batteries as a perfect example of a series of projects, performed in partnership with the right stakeholders and technical communities, that resulted in an understanding of risks and the development of viable solutions. He hopes that audiences understand that the Fire Protection Research Foundation serves an indispensable purpose of bringing stakeholders together to develop new knowledge in a credible and timely manner. “Innovation moves faster than standards and the codes that adopt them, and the risks of today include problems that are almost always too complex for any single entity to solve at a sufficient pace. Moving forward, the ability to see these emerging risks and assemble the right talent base and stakeholders to address them in partnership, will be key to keeping pace,” he said. More on FPRF funding and deliverables With an eye toward the future, the self-sufficient FPRF works to raise the necessary funds for research in a couple of ways. The Foundation derives its funding from management fees from consortia projects; direct labor rates for grant-funded projects; attendance fees at FPRF-hosted symposiums; sponsorship of their popular online webinars; and occasional projects that are handled directly by FPRF staff. The Foundation also hosts the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Symposium (SUPDET®), which every three years becomes a joint conference with the International Conference on Automatic Fire Detection (AUBE) hosted by the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany). To learn more about SUPDET, how the Fire Protection Research Foundation works, current FPRF projects, research reports, recent RFPs, upcoming webinars, and more, visit www.nfpa.org/foundation. In addition to regular blogs about upcoming and recent FPRF webinars, Foundation staff will be blogging about important research efforts underway in its 40th year. Be sure to check out the NFPA Today blogs regularly and bookmark www.nfpa.org/foundation to keep apprised of new content.
Posted: January 12, 2022, 12:00 am
As we begin our menus and meals for the holidays, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about kitchens. Did you know that traditional holiday food events significantly transformed the electrical systems in today’s kitchens? Yes! And to understand this relationship more fully, we first need to understand the purpose of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC), which is stated very clearly in section 90.1(A): the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the hazards arising from the use of electricity. In other words, the NEC aims to install an electrical system in a building that is going to minimize that system’s potential to harm the building or the people in the building. Commercial/Industrial Properties and Dwellings Still wondering what that has to do with turkey, stuffing, and cranberries? Well, the NEC approaches receptacle outlet placement two different ways. First, in commercial or industrial type properties, it is generally known what will get plugged in and its placement. So, the NEC doesn’t see the need in those occupancies to specify where receptacle outlets must be placed. Sometimes however, it’s not clear what equipment will need connections or where that will/should be. Dwellings (such as homes) tend to fall into this second category. It means that if there isn’t a spot to plug in a given piece of equipment, an extension cord is most often used to bring the power to where it needs to be. This has led the code making panels (CMP) over the years to tackle dwelling unit systems with more of a proactive approach. Simply put, receptacle outlets are now placed throughout the space such that the typical equipment used in that area is never out of reach of an outlet. This helps minimize the use of extension cords and reduces the risk of fire hazards due to these cords being used constantly as though they are a part of the permanent wiring system of the home. Today’s Modern Kitchen and Receptacle Placement That brings us back to the kitchen. Having sat in on discussions taking place at CMP meetings about where to place receptacle outlets in kitchens, I have the pleasure to report that these panels have absolutely considered just about every conceivable kitchen configuration possible. And in this consideration, they have also considered just about every possible use scenario as well. This is where we tie holiday meals to receptacle outlet placement in the NEC. When it comes to family gatherings, or at least my family’s gatherings, if there is open counter space, it’s probably going to get taken up by a slow cooker or other small kitchen appliance like warming trays and coffee percolators. Based on discussions at the code meetings, it seems everyone around the tables have had the same experience. So, CMP-2 has done their best to consider as many kitchen layouts as possible, and as many kitchen use scenarios as possible to ensure that no matter who buys the house and how they use the kitchen, they’ll be covered. This translates to a few different requirements in the NEC that we should be aware of. Wall Space Behind Kitchen Countertops First, let’s take a look at receptacle outlets along the wall space behind the kitchen countertops. Any countertop space that is 12 inches in width or more is most likely the place where Aunt Edna’s famous green bean casserole will go and therefore it needs at least one receptacle outlet. From there, the requirement is that no space along the countertop wall line should be more than two feet from a receptacle outlet. Anyone want to take a guess at the standard length of a kitchen small appliance cord? You guessed it, two feet! So, this is what has become known as the “2 & 4-foot” rule. Place the first receptacle outlet within the first two feet of countertop and then every four feet after that, making sure that there is one within the last two feet of countertop. That way, an appliance should never be sitting out of reach of a receptacle outlet. While this rule is great for countertops with walls behind them, what about peninsulas and islands? Well, the last few cycles have had discussions around these types of installations, as well, because what was once a kitchen feature that was rather rare, now has become a rather popular design tool in today’s age of open concepts and feng shui. Island Countertops and Peninsula Space In order to ensure that your island countertop or peninsula have enough receptacle outlets, they took the approach of basing the number of required outlets on how large the island or peninsula countertop space is. The requirement is to install one receptacle outlet for the first nine square feet and then one for each additional 18 square feet or fraction thereof. This means that the bigger the island or peninsula, the more receptacle outlets you are going to need. However, with the exception of one within the last two feet of a peninsula, the placement of these receptacles is up to the owner or designer. For an example, let’s say we build a kitchen where the only countertop space happens to be an island. The dimensions measure 24 feet long by 30 inches wide. We know we need one receptacle for the first nine square feet, but how many do we need after that? In total, this island is 60 square feet. This means after the first nine square feet, we still have 51 square feet to account for. Dividing 51 square feet by 18 square feet gives us 2.83, which means we need a total of three additional receptacles for a total of four receptacle outlets for this island. Previous editions of the NEC only required a single receptacle outlet to serve this island, which just wouldn’t be enough to fulfill the demand for today’s large family holiday events like Thanksgiving or Christmas. So, the next time you find yourself at a holiday event, look around to see if there are enough outlets in your kitchen to serve demand, while still in alignment with the purpose of the NEC. If there are, you can give thanks to the members of Code Making Panel 2 who spent considerable time discussing how families will use their countertops and applying the needed, related code requirements to help keep everyone safe from electrical hazards. For more information about this topic, check out one of our recent blog posts that highlights three key changes in the 2020 NEC that helps make kitchens safer. Tips and resources about cooking fire safety can be found on NFPA’s Thanksgiving and holiday safety webpage.
Posted: December 13, 2021, 12:00 am
Back in August I was spending some time on the Fires in Animal Housing Facilities project and wanted to interview some farmers and ranchers to make them aware of the survey that was being conducted and ask them some follow up questions. While interviewing Clint McRae, a 4th generation cattle rancher in Montana, he shared his experience and knowledge in fighting wildfires to protect his ranch. And although his cattle are free range, and not housed (i.e., no longer applicable to the Fires in Animal Housing Facilities project), I still thought many would enjoy listening to the full interview that is part of the NFPA Podcast: Fire on the Ranch. My hope is that you learn about the strategies that thousands of cattle ranchers utilize to maintain their livelihoods. Getting back to the Fires in Animal Housing Facilities project….this study will help assist the Technical Committee responsible for NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code, which establishes life and safety requirements for both humans and animals in all types of animal housing facilities. The goal is to ensure that there are minimum requirements in place to prevent the loss of animal life, human life, and property from fire or other emergencies. This project is anticipated to be completed in early 2022. Read the project summary for more information and stay tuned!
Posted: November 19, 2021, 12:00 am
Latest action on firefighting PPE standard underscores the need to better understand and to participate in the standards process
In June of this year I wrote a blog explaining how individuals could get involved in the conversation about NFPA standards and firefighter PPE. That blog provides a good overview for reference, and this piece provides a further update related to one particular standard - NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, 2018 Edition. Since that time, a few additional pieces of the NFPA process have occurred and I believe this is a good time to review the overall timeline of this issue and how the various parts of the process play a role. The topic at hand centers around the concern of PFOA’s in firefighter turnout gear. Proponents with the concern around PFOA’s have focused on a particular test – an ultraviolet light degradation test that is used to accelerate aging of the moisture barrier as part of overall performance testing. During 1999 and the early 2000’s there were significant concerns raised by first responders about the degradation of moisture barriers in the field and, as a result, the UV degradation test was added to the standard in the 2007 edition. The committee statement read in part “… that moisture barriers should be tested for resistance to degradation by light and has proposed a new test …” For reference, the test was added with a technical committee vote of 30-1 and a correlating committee vote of 21-0 supporting the addition of the new requirement. Since the 2007 edition and over the past three editions, covering 15 years, there have been no recommended changes proposed to modify or delete the requirements for this UV test. Enter the TIA In May of 2021, a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) was filed to remove the UV test from the standard. A TIA is a part of the NFPA process where the standard may be revised on an emergency basis between its normal revision cycles. It is “tentative” because, if it passes the technical committee, it only remains in effect for that edition of the standard and is automatically submitted as a proposed language for the next edition of the standard. It is “interim” because it is happening in between the normal revision cycles. TIA’s also must receive a three-fourths affirmative vote of the technical committee and correlating committee (versus the normal two thirds affirmative during a regular revision cycle) because amending a standard in this way means it doesn’t go through the usual two rounds of public review. Both the Technical Committee and the Correlating Committee reviewed the submitted material as well the public comments received on the TIA. The TIA failed to gain the necessary support of the Technical Committee on technical merit and emergency nature and failed to gain the necessary support of the Correlating Committee on both correlation and emergency nature. It is clear from the voting comments that there are strong technical views on both sides of the issue. Those views are also quite diverse among the various interests on the committee. Take just one example – those on the committee that represent the fire service. Ten fire service representatives on the technical committee voted on the TIA – two voted in favor of the TIA and six voted against the TIA, with two votes to abstain. See the complete ballot results and ballot statements from the technical committee members and for the Correlating Committee members. For the NFPA process, what is important to understand is that the technical experts – the Technical Committee members charged with reviewing the submitted information – did not have agreement on accepting the deletion of the UV test. Appealing to the Standards Council As part of the NFPA process, participants can appeal Technical Committee actions on TIA’s to the NFPA Standards Council. The Standards Council is made up of 13 volunteer members (none of whom are NFPA staff), who oversee the NFPA standards development process. The Standards Council is NOT a technical body. The Council does not have the expertise that is found on NFPA Technical Committees. They exist to ensure the integrity of the NFPA process and to ensure the Regulations for the Development of NFPA Standards are followed. For more information on the NFPA process and the overall roles and responsibilities of the various bodies see “A Primer on how NFPA Standards are Developed and Revised, and by Whom.” An appeal was made to the NFPA Standards Council asking them to reverse the decision and vote of the Technical Committee and accept the TIA. After hearing the appeal and reviewing all of the evidence, the Standards Council voted to deny the appeal. You can review more information on that decision in my blog posted in September. Throughout the processing of the TIA, several serious safety concerns were raised by firefighters and others on both sides of the technical issue. Ultimately, the NFPA Standards Council determined that the balanced consensus Technical Committee and the Task Group (chaired by a representative from the fire service) that had recently been established by the committee to address this issue were in the best position to review all the technical and scientific information and to determine a proposed technical solution that provides the vital lifesaving performance requirements of firefighter PPE, including the moisture barrier, and addresses the health risks to first responders. Petitioning the NFPA Board of Directors An additional, and extraordinary step in the NFPA process allows a petition to be made to the Board of Directors to review a decision by the Standards Council. In accordance with NFPA regulations, petitions to the Board are intended to address extraordinary circumstances where the integrity of the standards development process was believed to have been violated or action by the Board is otherwise necessary to protect the organization. A petition was filed with the Board of Directors asking for a review of the Standards Council’s decision on the NFPA 1971 TIA. The petition asked the NFPA Board to override the decision of the Standards Council, the vote of the Correlating Committee, and the vote of the Technical Committee and to issue the TIA to delete the UV light degradation test requirement and test method. On November 2, 2021, the NFPA Board Petitions Subcommittee reviewed the record and on November 4, 2021, denied the petition, upholding the Council’s decision and the results yielded by the standards development process. This is a good spot to pause and discuss the importance of the steps in the process. In this instance, had the NFPA Board Petitions Subcommittee or the Standards Council upheld the petition or appeal, respectively, they would have substituted their technical judgement for that of the Technical Committee. Remember that neither the Board nor the Standards Council are technical bodies. Nonetheless, arguments made in the Board Petition, as well as the appeal to the Council, focused on technical evidence and an assertion that the Technical Committee was simply wrong. The appeal was denied by the Standards Council and the decision was upheld by the Petitions Subcommittee not because the UV test is technically appropriate or not, but because in this instance neither the Standards Council nor the Board Subcommittee found reason to overturn the technical committee’s decision. The NFPA process is an open, balanced process, where the responsible technical committees of experts appointed by the NFPA Standards Council make the technical decisions and the Standards Council and Board are appellant bodies ensuring that the NFPA process is followed in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. Where does the issue go from here? This issue is important to many stakeholders. The best way to effect changes in NFPA standards is by participating in the NFPA process and proposing changes to the standard. I previously outlined this process in my blog from June 3, 2021. The Technical Committee gives consideration and review to all public submissions that come through the process. It’s also important to note that ANYONE (other than NFPA staff) can submit a proposed change to the text of the standard through the process. IMPORTANT NOTE - As of the writing of this blog – there are no proposed changes relating to this UV test for the next edition, nor are there any proposed changes addressing the use or prohibition on the use of PFOAs for the next edition. Anyone who believes the standard should be changed to address these topics is strongly encouraged to submit proposed changes (public input) to the next edition of the standard (which will be a consolidated standard as NFPA 1970). You do not have to be an NFPA member or on an NFPA Technical Committee to provide input. Anyone (except NFPA staff) can propose a change to the standard by suggesting specific wording and providing a technical rationale through our online submission system, which is accessible at nfpa.org/1970next. Time is short as the deadline for Public Input is November 10, 2021. In the following months, the Technical and Correlating Committees will consider all of the proposed changes received by the deadline and will develop a First Draft of NFPA 1970. NFPA anticipates that the First Draft Reports will be posted for public review in the Fall of 2022. Throughout the process, the latest information on this standard can be found at nfpa.org/1970next.
Posted: November 5, 2021, 12:00 am
The recently released 2022 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems contains a number of significant changes. While the 2019 edition of the standard underwent a dramatic reorganization, it was a relatively quiet cycle for technical revisions. The 2022 edition of the standard; however, makes up for that with many updates that will affect all the different users of the document. Here I will list a handful of the most notable changes featured in the new edition. With 275 First Revisions and 234 Second Revisions made during the revision cycle this is by no means an all-inclusive list. The most important change in a document tends to be the one we are dealing with at the exact moment on a particular project but with that said, here are some that might come up more than others. Single point density This is perhaps as big a fundamental shift in the application of NFPA 13 as we have seen in a long time. For decades users have been familiar with using density/area curve to calculate sprinkler density, but the 2022 edition does away with the curves (with an exception for existing systems) in favor of specifying a single-point method of density calculation. An entire article could be dedicated to this issue, but the short version is that not all points along the curves had truly been proven. Some supported it with the argument that at the time of their introduction they could be quite useful based on water supply, but today there is a wider selection of sprinklers with various K-factors that can allow for added flexibility. Rack storage updated again Chapter 25 on the protection of rack storage using in-rack sprinklers has been completely rewritten and reorganized. This chapter consolidates all the in-rack sprinkler design criteria into one chapter. Users can now determine all their protection options for in-rack sprinklers—and the accompanying ceiling sprinkler system—without having to leave the chapter. One notable technical change involves the fact that multiple row racks will need to be limited to a depth of 20 feet or they will need to be considered solid shelving; driving a need for in-rack sprinklers. Remote areas - considering walls This next topic addresses a new paragraph of text added to the standard specifying that where a sprinkler is located next to a full-height wall, the area on the opposite side of the wall cannot be counted toward the total design area even if the sprinkler’s assigned area of discharge would theoretically extend beyond the wall. This could result in additional sprinklers being required to be included in the determination of remote area demands. Some argue that this is a clarification of what has always been intended while others disagree. Either way, this makes it clear as to the approach that must be taken. Nitrogen System Updates Several additions have been made throughout the standard to better address the use of nitrogen for use with dry-pipe sprinkler systems. A key consideration here is the allowance for more favorable friction loss values for new dry pipe systems where nitrogen is used, provided the supply meets a certain set of criteria. Working plans checklist Modifications to the working plans checklist include several new or adjusted items. Those submitting plans, as well as plan reviewers, will need to give this area some additional attention. More hydraulic information signs The standard has been revised to require hydraulic design information signs to be placed in more locations on systems than was previously required. Rather than just at the alarm valve, dry pipe valve, preaction valve, or deluge valve, signs must now be provided at every system riser and every floor control assembly in addition to the locations previously required. This will have additional impact on system ITM as the signs will need inspection as part of NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems requirements.
Posted: October 29, 2021, 12:00 am
NFPA standards are developed through an open-consensus process in which anyone (except NFPA staff) can participate. We receive lots of questions about how this time-tested process works from individuals who are not familiar with it as well as from those that are involved in some aspect of it. In answer to these questions, here is a broad overview of how NFPA standards are developed and the parties involved: What is the NFPA standards development process? NFPA facilitates the development of more than 300 standards that cover myriad aspects of building, life, fire, and electrical safety. Each of the standards is revised every three to five years, with each revision cycle opening with a call for Public Input (publicly suggested changes in text to the current edition of a standard) and concluding with the publication of the First Draft Report, which documents the responsible technical committee(s)’s actions and responses to all Public Inputs. Next, the Public Comment period seeks review and suggested changes to the First Draft text. After the committee(s) review and action on the Public Comments, their recommended text changes and responses to all Public Comments are published in the Second Draft Report for additional public review. Then, at the NFPA Technical Meeting each June, there is an opportunity to challenge a proposed change to a standard through a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM), which is submitted in advance of the meeting. Anyone may attend and debate motions, then the NFPA membership in attendance votes to either support the debated motion or the technical committee’s recommended second draft text as presented. The outcome from the public process and committee actions along with the Technical Meeting results are presented to the NFPA Standards Council who decides, based on all evidence, to issue the standard or return the standard to the technical committee for further work if necessary. Can a standard be changed before the next revision cycle? Yes, anyone may submit a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA), which serves as an emergency recommended change to a standard in advance of the next revision cycle. Among other requirements, all TIAs must include the proposed text to be changed, added, or deleted and a statement of the problem and substantiation for the TIA must be provided, including identifying why the TIA is of an emergency nature requiring prompt attention. Because of the emergency nature of TIAs and the limited public review all TIA’s require three-fourths (75%) approval of the respective Technical and Correlating Committee members to be recommended for issuance by the NFPA Standards Council. Is there an appeals process for standards and TIAs? Yes, all appeals within the NFPA standards process are considered by the NFPA Standards Council. The Standards Council hears any process-related appeals, including those related to standards or TIAs. Appeals are an important part of the process, ensuring that all NFPA rules have been followed and that due process and fairness have continued throughout the standards development process. The Standards Council looks at the written record and conducts hearings when a hearing is granted, during which all interested parties can participate. Appeals are decided on the entire record of the process. It’s important to note that when appeals are made to the Standards Council, the focus of the appeal is based on whether the standards process was executed correctly, and to assess whether the technical committee followed the process correctly, adhering to the NFPARegulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards at each step. Appeals to the Standards Council are not a further opportunity for technical debate on a topic, to introduce new information, or to review the technical merit of content within the document. Technical debate and actions are addressed through the public process and by the appropriate Technical Committee of subject matter experts. After deliberating on all appeals related to a standard, the Standards Council either proceeds to issue the standard or to determine any further action as required, including sending the topic back to the respective technical committee for further attention.With respect to appeals on TIAs, the Standards Council determines whether to issue the TIA. Under limited and extraordinary circumstances, a final appeal of the Standards Council action, called a Petition, can be made to the NFPA Board of Directors. In these cases, the NFPA Board of Directors may take necessary action to fulfill its obligation to preserve the integrity of the standards development process. The new NFPA standard or TIA becomes effective 20 days following the Standards Council’s action of issuance. Who does what? NFPA Board of Directors The NFPA Board of Directors, which has general charge of all activities of the NFPA, issues rules and regulations that govern the development of NFPA standards and appoints the 13 members of the NFPA Standards Council. Members of the Standards Council are thoroughly familiar with the standards development process of the association and are selected from a broad range of interests. In extraordinary circumstances the NFPA Board of Directors may take necessary action in review of Standards Council action (through the Petitions process) to fulfill its obligation to preserve the integrity of the standards development process. NFPA Standards Council The NFPA Standards Council is responsible for overseeing NFPA standards development activities, ensuring compliance with the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards; appointing members to NFPA Technical and Correlating Committees; and serving as the appeals body over matters related to the standards development process. Additionally, members of the Council serve as presiding officers for the yearly NFPA Technical Meeting. The NFPA Standards Council is responsible for considering all appeals relating to the NFPA standards development process. NFPA Technical Committees Appointed by and reporting to the Standards Council, NFPA Technical Committees serve as the primary consensus bodies of subject matter experts responsible for developing and revising NFPA standards. Collectively comprised of more than 9,000 volunteers, the technical committees are responsible for the technical debate and requirements for the more than 300 NFPA standards. NFPA Technical Committees are the balanced consensus bodies of technical experts that are responsible for the development of technical requirements within NFPA standards, responding to all Public Input and Public Comments, and processing all proposed TIAs. NFPA staff An NFPA staff liaison is assigned to each NFPA technical committee and acts as the neutral facilitator for the NFPA standards development process. Each staff liaison is responsible for monitoring the activities of the technical committees to which they’ve been assigned, ensuring the process and procedures move forward in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. NFPA staff is not permitted to participate in the NFPA standards development process, including serving as members on technical committees and submitting public inputs or public comments. Additional resources Here is more detailed information and resources about how the NFPA codes and standards process works: How the NFPA standards development process works NFPA Standards Directory Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards
Posted: October 27, 2021, 12:00 am
A couple of months ago I wrote a blog explaining how individuals could get involved in the conversation about NFPA standards and firefighter PPE. That blog provides a good overview for reference, and this piece provides new developments related to one particular standard - NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, 2018 Edition. A recent NFPA Standards Council decision relating to NFPA 1971 has been partially referenced in many areas of social media and publications. Throughout the processing of the Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA), several serious safety concerns were raised by firefighters and others on both sides of the technical issue. Ultimately, the NFPA Standards Council determined that the balanced consensus Technical Committee (TC) and the current Task Group working on this issue were the best place to determine a proposed technical solution that provided the vital lifesaving performance requirements of PPE and the moisture barrier while at the same time addressing health risks to first responders. NFPA Standards Council Decision The NFPA Standards Council voted on August 26, 2021, to deny an appeal requesting that the Council overturn the TC ballot results and issue TIA (No. 1594 on NFPA 1971 (2018 edition). The TIA was seeking to remove an ultra-violet (UV) light degradation test applicable to firefighter turnout gear. The appellant asserts that requiring this test causes the use of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the moisture barriers of turnout gear. TIA No. 1594 was balloted through the Technical Committee on Structural and Proximity Fire Fighting Protective Clothing and Equipment and the Correlating Committee (CC) on Fire and Emergency Services Protective Clothing and Equipment in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards (Regs) to determine whether the necessary three-fourths majority support was achieved for recommendation of issuance. The TIA failed to achieve the necessary support of the TC on both technical merit and emergency nature, as well as failed to achieve the necessary support of the CC on both correlation and emergency nature. When a TIA fails to achieve the recommendation of the responsible committee, the resulting recommendation of the standards development process is to not issue the TIA. On appeal, the Council accords great respect and deference to the NFPA standards development process. In conducting its review, the Council will overturn the results of that process only where a clear and substantial basis for doing so is demonstrated. The Council found no such basis demonstrated in this matter. Here are a few key points from the decision: As stated above, the TIA failed on all levels, including the Technical Committee and the Correlating Committee. From the decision, “The TIA failed to achieve the necessary support of the TC [technical committee] on both technical merit and emergency nature, as well as failed to achieve the necessary support of the CC [correlating committee] on both correlation and emergency nature.” This is not a simple issue. The moisture barrier provides significant protection to firefighters from various threats, and if this test is eliminated the Committee’s position was that it was not known technically what other impacts there may be on firefighter protection. From the decision, “This TIA seeks to remove an ultra-violet (UV) light degradation test applicable to firefighter turnout gear. The appellant asserts that requiring this test causes the use of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the moisture barriers of turnout gear. Appellant expressed serious concern for health consequences to firefighters with continued use of PFAS in the moisture barrier. Opponents to the TIA agree that PFAS should be removed or limited where possible, but express concern that removing this test without understanding of how removal will affect the moisture barrier could inherently be a serious risk to firefighter safety given the barrier is a primary protection from water and other common liquids, including chemicals and bloodborne pathogens encountered.” The Technical Committee Chair formed a Task Group to address this topic in June 2021. The Council believes that the Task Group and the Technical Committee are in the best position (since they are the experts) to determine the best solution. From the decision, “The TC chair formed a Task Group in June 2021 to address this issue (and evaluate other issues related to hazardous substances). The Task Group membership includes topical experts, such as the appellant (IAFF), a representative from a nationally recognized testing lab, a turn-out gear manufacturer, and representatives from fire departments, among others. For these reasons, Council finds that the Task Group is in the best position to consider all technical and scientific information and to make an informed recommendation for the responsible TC’s consideration.” The Council indicated that this is an important issue and urged the Task Group to continue its work. From the decision, “The Council notes that all parties in favor and against this appeal agreed that the TIA raises timely, important issues therefore the Council directs that the progressing Task Group work on this issue be expedited. Additionally, the Council encourages the Task Group to submit a TIA for processing to the current edition and in parallel to the work being done within the next edition of the standard, if appropriate.” Background on NFPA Standards Process and NFPA 1971 NFPA does not write the standards. NFPA facilitates the development process for more than 300 different standards, including 114 that are fire-service-related. Technical Committees comprised of subject matter experts employ a transparent process that has relied upon diverse participation for 125 years. NFPA standards are typically updated every 3 to 5 years. NFPA standards do not specify or require the use of any particular materials, chemicals, or treatments for PPE. Those decisions are up to the manufacturer. NFPA 1971 specifies the minimum design, performance, testing and certification requirements for structural and proximity firefighting turnout gear including coats, trousers, coveralls, helmets, gloves, footwear, and interface components. The standard safeguards firefighting personnel by establishing minimum levels of protection from thermal, physical, environmental, and blood-borne pathogen hazards encountered during firefighting operations. NFPA 1971 does not, however, dictate what materials are used or how the manufacturer complies with the performance requirements of the standard. Next Steps When the Task Group was established in June 2021, they were asked to submit their recommendations as public input on the next edition of the standard, which must be received by Nov 10, 2021. However, it is possible that the Task Group will continue to work beyond this date to complete or refine their recommendations. If a new consensus position is not reached in the First Draft stage, changes can still be considered in later stages (pending certain circumstances exist) or be adopted through a TIA, should one be filed. Public input to the next edition of the standard (which will be a consolidated standard as NFPA 1970) closes on November 10, 2021. Anyone (except NFPA staff) can propose a change to the standard by going online and suggesting specific wording and providing a rationale. NFPA anticipates that the First Draft Reports will be posted for public comment in the fall of 2022. The latest information on this standard can be found at nfpa.org/1970next.
Posted: September 16, 2021, 12:00 am
“NFPA, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and the world have lost an incredible safety ambassador with the passing of NFPA Board member Hatem Kheir this week,” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said. “Hatem was the consummate safety professional. His mechanical engineering background, passion for reducing risk, professional collaborations, commitment to educating the young and at risk, and his quest to offer in-language solutions to stakeholders were unmatched. We are eternally grateful for his contributions over the years.” Hatem passed away this week, at the age of 62, after a brief illness. Hatem joined the NFPA Board of Directors in 2016 and was serving his second term at the time of his death. During his tenure, he was a member of the Governance & Nominating Committee and the newly formed Corporate Development Committee. NFPA Board Chair Amy Acton said, “Hatem was interested in being an NFPA Board member because he felt it would help him serve Egypt and other developing countries to better understand the importance of fire protection. He embraced the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™ and the opportunity to discuss safety with a long list of connections in the international marketplace.” Hatem was the owner and general manager of the Kheir Group based in Cairo, Egypt, a firm that specializes in supplying pumps, pumping services, and maintenance. He devoted 22 years to the standards development process, serving as a principal member on the Fire Pumps (FIM-AAA) technical committee that is responsible for the development of NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection. Hatem was passionate about the proper use and application of NFPA codes and standards. With that in mind, he pioneered the first translation of NFPA documents into Arabic and worked to ensure that language was not a barrier to understanding and applying codes and standards. He believed wholeheartedly that we all play a role in safety and traveled all over the Middle East educating fire protection system users, firefighters, consultants, and engineers on how to select, install, test, and service fire pumps. He also devoted time to training and informing young engineers on the role that codes play in society and developed a study and education program for school-age children to help raise awareness of fire prevention and protection strategies. Hatem helped launch the Egyptian Fire Protection Association so that government officials, companies, and workers were working holistically in the interest of safety; and until his death, served as Chairman of the Confederation of Fire Protection Association – International. He worked with chamber of commerce leaders (American, British, Egyptian, and German), economic minds, fire protection industry groups, industrial engineering professionals, and those interested in culture development efforts throughout his career and was a founding member of the NFPA MENA Advisory Council. Heartfelt condolences go out to Hatem’s wife Iman, his children, in-laws, grandchildren, and all who loved and admired him. His legacy will live on in the work that we do each day to reduce risk.
Posted: July 30, 2021, 12:00 am
I often see news stories discussing the issue of copyright protection as it relates to codes and standards as well as standards development organizations (SDOs). Much to my chagrin, most get it wrong and perpetuate misinformation and inaccuracies put forth by those who are uninformed or seeking to dismantle the highly effective code development system that benefits government, business, and the public. Those of us invested in safety need to be well versed and take more action to refute false information and provide critical context to a system that is much more complicated than ever portrayed. Here are the facts that address the three most common mistakes I see. First, NFPA is not a for-profit organization. NFPA is a nonprofit that has developed safety standards for 125 years. It is factually inaccurate and misleading to characterize our organization as a for-profit entity or being driven by a profit motive. We are self-funded by publishing, selling copies of, and licensing other rights to our standards. We don’t depend on subsidies or contributions from government, or the industries affected by our standards. Second, all NFPA codes and standards can be viewed for free. Detractors argue that anyone should be able to access our codes and standards for free. They can. NFPA is committed to publicly sharing critical safety information and has long provided our standards for free viewing online to anyone, along with other research and educational materials. We fully support the proposition that if people are interested in the content of our standards, they should be able to access them and read for themselves what they say; everyone has that ability. The full list of NFPA standards can be accessed on our website. Third, taxpayers don’t pay anything for the development of NFPA standards. I hear the argument that taxpayers are paying twice for laws to be created – once through the legislative process and again to access standards incorporated by reference – but this is false. Taxpayers don’t pay a dime for the development of NFPA standards. If NFPA did not develop these standards, taxpayers would have to pay for them to be developed some other way, likely with fewer updates, greater cost to the public, more industry influence, or some combination of all these. Worse still, standards might not be developed or updated at all. Such a scenario would make people less safe and building and manufacturing more expensive. NFPA’s process is the gold standard for standards development. It’s balanced, transparent, and open. Governments are incorporating the codes and standards we create by reference because they find the work so valuable. This is a partnership that has worked well for 125 years. NFPA develops more than 300 safety standards through an open, consensus-based process. All standards are rigorously revised and updated every three to five years. Some special interests wrongly argue that governments choosing to incorporate portions of our codes or standards in a legislative or regulatory process by reference is a clear public benefit - meaning NFPA forfeits copyright protection for the entire standard. It does not. Our works remain protected by copyright. If we did not have the ability to protect our copyrights, the highly efficient and effective system we have for developing them would go away. Rigorous national safety standards protect us all from the tragedies of fires and electrical hazards. NFPA’s work has safeguarded countless lives, created economic growth, and saved billions of taxpayer dollars. But this critical, well-functioning model is under threat from special interests who want to end copyright protection for standards. If they succeed, NFPA won’t be able to continue funding our important work. That will lead to a disjointed and expensive patchwork of safety standards in the U.S. and around the world, and it will jeopardize the safety and well-being of millions of people. This work is critical. It is up to all of us to speak up to protect the time-tested system and call out those who seek to destroy it by sharing falsehoods.
Posted: July 20, 2021, 12:00 am
NFPA Launches Free Structural Firefighting Online Training Based on the Fire Dynamics within NFPA 1700
NFPA released free NFPA® 1700 Guide for Structural Fire Fighting online training for firefighters to learn safer and more effective ways to handle fire incidents involving modern day materials and contents. The all-new online instructional course, centered around NFPA 1700 Guide for Structural Fire Fighting, is based on extensive scientific research and testing on contemporary structures from the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. Today’s home fires burn faster, reach flashover quicker, collapse sooner, and result in reduced escape times largely due to synthetic contents including furniture, plastics, rugs, and composite materials versus the wood-constructed legacy furnishings of days gone by. Residences also tend to be constructed on smaller lots, include a second story, feature more open floor plans, and house all kinds of new technologies. These components and evolving fuel loads led to the November release of NFPA 1700, the first NFPA document connecting fire dynamics research to response strategies and best practices; and have prompted changes to the tactics that the nation’s 1.1 million firefighters have used for decades. The all-new instructional course is designed to help the fire service evolve the way it responds to incidents and provides evidence-based recommendations and methodologies. The course provides: Guidance focused on interacting within a structure on-fire to achieve the most successful outcome based on documented fire investigations, research, and testing Interactive modeling of residential structural firefighting with simulated training scenarios and coaching throughout exercises Concepts based on NFPA 1700 principles and tactical advice for effective search, rescue, and fire suppression operations, as well as civilian and responder safety NFPA 1700 online training puts firefighters in an immersive digital environment that replicates in-person, hands-on learning. Ideal for both new and seasoned structural firefighting personnel, the online program offers an introduction to NFPA 1700, followed by a series of interactive learning modules. Each session offers a 360-degree, full-3D virtual experience featuring realistic scenarios and requires firefighters to make observations and decisions on how to respond and fight the fire. The course covers how to enter buildings, where to apply hose streams, and when to stand down due to potential life-threatening situations; and culminates with a Capstone exam to help firefighters synthesize learning and put knowledge to the test. The training takes into consideration fundamental occupancy, building construction, while addressing the health and safety of firefighters by reinforcing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and methodologies for contamination control. NFPA 1700 and its corresponding free training for the fire service are prime examples of the investment in safety and skilled workforce components that are essential in the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem. Take and share the training today.
Posted: March 30, 2021, 12:00 am
Considering CO is a colorless and odorless gas, CO poisoning has assumed the moniker of the silent killer. When you book your first post-COVID-19 vacation rental, do you know if the hotel you book or home you rent requires CO alarms? The Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted a literature review to summarize existing requirements for installation of CO detection devices and consolidated the available and pertinent non-fire CO incident data. The report, titled: “Carbon Monoxide Detection and Alarm Requirements: Literature Review” is intended to assist the NFPA 101® Life Safety Code® and NFPA 5000® Building Construction and Safety Code® technical committees as they develop proposed changes for the 2024 editions. This report will also be helpful for the 2024 editions of the International Code Council (ICC) codes, and provides a comprehensive list of the CO regulations by occupancy for each state. Think a code or standard needs to be modified? If so, please participate in NFPA’s open and consensus-based code development process by submitting a public input by June 1, 2021 for NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000. Check out their respective websites for additional information: www.nfpa.org/101 and www.nfpa.org/5000 The Fire Protection Research Foundation works as NFPA’s research affiliate to help with the challenging problems that the fire protection community faces daily. Each year the Foundation reviews project ideas that are submitted by YOU, the public! Research requests do not need to be tied to a specific code or standard, in fact here are a few examples below of such requests and affiliated reports: Literature Review on Spaceport Fire Safety Wildfire Risk Reduction: Engaging Local Officials Hazard Assessment of Lithium Ion Batteries used in Energy Storage Systems (ESS) There is also no project too small (literature reviews, code comparisons, loss summaries), or too large (full scale fire testing), or anything in between! Not sure what research needs to be done but something must be done? Maybe a workshop (research planning meeting) can help! So please, if you have any research needs to thread the needle or solve a problem, submit a project idea form here!
Posted: March 17, 2021, 12:00 am
Recent Incidents at Latin American Hospitals Demonstrate the Need for Risk Reduction and Response Planning
For about a year now, much of the world has been focused on fighting the Coronavirus. The pandemic has certainly challenged healthcare providers and hospitals; our gratitude for all their efforts since COVID-19 began spreading throughout the globe cannot be overstated. The coronavirus has affected the healthcare industry in a way that modern society has not seen before, but it’s important to note that the idea of risk is not new to medical people or those charged with management of healthcare properties. Patients, staff and visitors rely on those who run medical facilities to ensure that all safety measures are being taken to keep those receiving care, working in or visiting a hospital free from harm. Fires can and do occur in the medical environment and given high occupancy rates, foot traffic in healthcare settings and the vulnerability of patients, hospital fires can have a significant impact on a community. Just think about how complex it must be to safely evacuate patients, staff and others when an unfortunate incident occurs. In Chile’s capitol city of Santiago, healthcare officials were forced to move from thinking what to do in case of fire to actually springing into action when a fire broke out at San Borja Hospital, forcing the evacuation of 30 patients with COVID-19 this past weekend. Infected patients were transported to other health centers in the city, an undertaking that was extremely difficult given that at least eight patients were intubated and listed in critical condition. The emergency incident coincided with a spike of coronavirus cases in Chile, so as you can imagine the healthcare system was already working at maximum capacity when the fire alarm sounded early in the morning. The epicenter of the fire was located in a third floor pediatric area of one of the hospital’s warehouses. Approximately 40 fire trucks and more than 150 firefighters responded; flames and dense columns of smoke were visible from many points in the Chilean capital. Firefighters joined forces with police officers, members of the army, and doctors to evacuate patients to a parking lot and other safe havens outside of the hospital. Appropriate sanitary measures were taken due to the coronavirus. Fortunately, thanks to this effective deployment strategy, there was no loss of life but the Ministry of Health in Chile confirmed that the fire damaged 4 floors of the hospital, as well as boilers, electrical installations and other service systems. Right after the New Year, there was another horrible hospital emergency in Morelia Michoacan, Mexico that took the lives of at least 36 people who were hospitalized in the COVID area. A leak began in a supply pipe and was reported immediately on a Friday. Apparently, the pipe froze from low temperatures but was not addressed by the institute’s authorities until on Sunday when a white cloud appeared in the lower area of the tanks. According to news reports, staff members began to hit the pipe that was frozen, ultimately causing a fissure that prompted the lethal leak. Around the same time, fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Adolfo López Mateos hospital in the City of Toluca, Mexico. Medical staff and patients were immediately evacuated, including those being treated for COVID-19. After the incident, the Secretary of Health of the State of Mexico reported that the incident, caused by a short circuit, was minor. The fire was controlled quickly without injuries and hospital personnel were allowed to return to their normal duties in a reasonable amount of time. That was not the case at the Federal Hospital of Bonsucesso in Rio de Janeiro last fall. A fire there prompted more than 200 patients to be evacuated and urgently transferred elsewhere. Doctors and nurses relocated patients in mobile beds with the help of firefighters, but unfortunately during the rescue operation, two women who were hospitalized for coronavirus died. A mechanical workshop that was located nearby became a temporary nursing location for a few hours; and in the days that followed, the doctors’ union denounced the hospital, pointing to a lack of protocol for evacuating patients and health professionals. In the summer of 2019, staff from the “Hospital de Alta Especialidad” in Zumpango, México, within the metropolitan area of Mexico City, were evacuated when fire broke out. One of the panels of the hospital caught fire after a short circuit occurred between a luminaire and a ceiling in a patio area. Civil Protection personnel cordoned off the affected area and worked with medical personnel to evacuate hospitalized patients who were in the building next to the fire. The municipal fire department responded and State of Mexico Red Cross ambulances assisted in evacuating and protecting patients, relatives and hospital personnel. Within 25 minutes, the incident was under control. Thanks to the preparedness steps taken in advance and the security protocols that were successfully applied during the incident, the elderly and patients were allowed to re-enter the hospitalization building to continue their care, while the affected area was isolated. Preplanning and safety measures helped hospital authorities and responders protect patients and preserve the majority of the facility. These are just a few examples of hospital fires of note in Latin America. There have been many throughout time, all around the world, that have resulted in tragedy. I hope the few I have mentioned in this blog underscore the reality that Latin America is not exempt from such incidents. Hospital fires cause loss of life, property, equipment, essential supplies and hospital records – and leave economic and business/care continuity challenges in its wake. Each of these events share a common thread – ignorance or dismissal of danger signs, panic reactions or stampede tendencies. The incidents also showed inappropriate use of flammable and toxic materials, the absence or ineffectiveness of basic security measures, deficiencies in regulatory framework, and a concerning lack of training in evacuation planning, among other proactive safety measures. All of these safety components and a few others need to be addressed if we are going to reduce risk. Safety is a system, and one that should be taken very seriously especially in hospitals where many occupants will be unable to evacuate on their own or without assistive equipment. Healthcare officials, regulatory leaders and responders should use the recent spate of incidents in Latin America and the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem to evaluate whether they are connecting the dots on hospital safety. In 2016, the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did just that. In May of that year, CMS required health care facilities to meet requirements of the 2012 editions of NFPA 101® Life Safety Code and NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code. Since 1970, hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory surgical centers and related facilities in the U.S. have needed to demonstrate that their fire and life safety programs satisfied different editions of NFPA 101 in order to meet the requirements of the Conditions of Participation (COP), as defined by CMS. Health care providers that participate in federal reimbursement programs are required to meet the COP expectations. Then in September of 2016, CMS announced that its emergency preparedness rule would require a coordinated set of requirements to be established by various providers. The emergency preparedness spectrum extends to the public who rely on the various organizations that provide different levels of medical and social wellness care as well as to the staff and physical plant assets that are part of the delivery system. Per the rule, hospitals, transplant centers, critical access hospitals and long-term care facilities must carefully evaluate their emergency and standby power systems. Specifically, they must be inspected, tested, and maintained in accordance with the 2010 edition of NFPA 110 Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, as well as the 2012 editions of both NFPA 99 and NFPA 101. NFPA can help healthcare authorities proactively navigate the changes that are needed to ensure that Latin America’s hospitals and other health facilities have a solid safety infrastructure. Visit nfpa.org/cms for training, certification and other related resources. This blog is also available in Spanish.
Posted: February 3, 2021, 12:00 am
We live in a digital and interconnected world. There are endless devices and systems that connect to the internet – from an Instant Pot in your home to sprinkler and fire alarm systems, elevators, automatic lock doors, HVAC systems and countless others. Internet connected systems are vulnerable to a wide range of physical and cyber threats. Cyber actors are constantly looking for vulnerabilities and opportunities to steal valuable information, or disrupt, destroy or threaten the delivery of essential services, for example. As critical infrastructure becomes more integrated with information technology, the probability of more high consequence events is rising. A quick search shows thousands of fire and life safety systems that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Although fire protection systems had minimal vulnerabilities in the past, they are increasingly networked to Building Control Systems (BCS), Internet of Things (IoT), and other platforms that are, by design or oversight, exposed to the public-facing internet. This emerging environment could lead to unique and novel cyber vulnerabilities, and attacks on fire protection systems have the potential to have significant consequences. Join us for a free virtual workshop on January 26, 2021 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Eastern Time) and February 2, 2021 from 9 a.m. ET to 12 pm (Eastern Time) as we review research findings and engage with industry stakeholder to discuss the expansiveness of cyber vulnerabilities for fire protection systems, the severity of the consequences, mitigation techniques, the role of codes and standards, knowledge gaps, and next steps. This workshop is hosted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, in collaboration with MC Dean, as part of an on-going research project “Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems”, supported by the Foundation’s Facilities Research Consortium and NFPA. Get more information, and register for the Free Virtual “Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems” Workshop here.
Posted: January 21, 2021, 12:00 am
Here in Mexico City, where I am based for my role as NFPA development director for Latin America, there is significant buzz about the fire at the Buen Tono substation of the Mexico City Metro.A female police officer died when she fell during the incident, and the subway system that typically, during non-COVID times, serves 4.6 million commuters daily was severely disabled. Saturday’s incident has frustrated commuters and is raising important questions about necessary maintenance and upgrades. Given that I am charged with advancing government responsibility, fire and life safety infrastructure, code compliance, and emergency response strategies (among other safety considerations) in Mexico City, I, too, have a lot of questions including the obvious one, “how did this fire happen?” According to news reports, the fire broke out in Mexico City’s downtown substation and persisted for nearly 12 hours. It damaged six service lines including three of the system’s oldest and busiest lines which reportedly may not be repaired for three months. In addition to the police officer that perished, more than 30 people, including Metro workers, on-site police and a firefighter went to the hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation and other concerns. Mexico News Daily reports that a former director of the Metro said the substation had not been modernized in the last 20 years. “These installations should have been replaced 20 years ago [or] at least changed gradually [but] that wasn’t the case,” Jorge Gaviño said in a television interview. “They’re old, obsolete systems that definitely have to be given adequate maintenance to avoid … risks to passengers.” The news outlet quotes Gaviño as saying the Mexico City Congress will ask the Metro system’s management to supply the maintenance records of the substation so that they can be analyzed to determine why the fire broke out and how a similar event can be avoided in the future. NFPA research shows that between 2014-2018, fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated 1,100 fires per year in or at rapid transit stations. Since 1983, NFPA has produced NFPA 130 Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems to help jurisdictions address some of the very design, maintenance and safety requirements that I suspect may be identified here in Mexico City. A Fixed Guideway Transit Systems Technical Committee was first formed in 1975 and began work on the development of NFPA 130 with one of the primary concerns centered on the potential for entrapment and injury of masses of people who routinely use mass transportation facilities. During development of the document, several significant fires occurred in fixed guideway systems. The committee noted that the minimal loss of life during these incidents was due primarily to chance events more than any preconceived plan or the operation of protective systems. So, they focused on developing material on fire protection requirements to be included in NFPA 130. In 1988, the standard was expanded to include automated guideway transit (AGT) systems – fully automated driverless transit systems which are automatically guided along a guideway. In subsequent years, new chapters on emergency ventilation systems, egress calculations in accordance with NFPA 101® Life Safety Code®, and protection requirements that address emergency lighting and standpipes were factored in. In other words, as new incidents, issues and best practices arose, the standard changed and so, too, should have the design and maintenance of the Metro station in Mexico City to ensure passenger safety and business continuity. Over the years, NFPA has served as a safety resource for organizations like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the United States. In 2015, NFPA staff offered safety insights to NTSB when an electrical malfunction filled the busy Metro subway station in downtown Washington, DC. That incident produced thick, black smoke and left many riders stranded after their train stopped in a tunnel. When all was said and done, a woman was dead and nearly 70 others were sent to the hospital. According to The Washington Post, authorities believed a train, which had just left the L’Enfant Plaza station, came to a halt about 800 feet into the tunnel because there was “an electrical arcing event” that occurred about 1,100 feet in front of the train. The event filled the tunnel with smoke because the arcing involved cables that power the third rail; arcing is often connected with short circuits and may generate smoke. There did not appear to have been a fire during that incident but nonetheless, questions about ventilation and maintenance were brought up in the aftermath of that incident, just as they will and should be brought up now by authorities in Mexico City. I also learned this week that the issue of train safety will be the subject of an NFPA Journal in Compliance column that is scheduled to run next month, and my colleagues at the Fire Protection Research Foundation explained that although they do not have research on this topic, others do, including: NIST – Fire Safety in Passenger Rail Transportation Brandforsk/RISE: Model Scale Railcar Fire Tests Victoria University - Fire Development in Passenger Trains (Thesis) International Association for Fire Safety Science (AFSS) As the former Metro director of the Metro Jorge Gaviño said to the media, “We have to find out if … this regrettable accident was foreseeable or not.” I stand ready to help Mexico City authorities if they need NFPA insights to get public transportation safely back on track. This blog is also available in Spanish.
Posted: January 13, 2021, 12:00 am
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has published the NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code since 1913. Every three years its requirements are revised based on input from industry and government sectors. This blog highlights the major changes for the 2021 edition. The new code includes a significant change in its nomenclature along with revised sections addressing warehouse and tank storage, as well as piping. A flowchart was added in the annex to assist users interested in navigating chapters that pertain to container storage [including intermediate bulk container (IBC) storage], tank storage, piping, processing, and dispensing. What’s in a name? The 2021 edition of NFPA 30 introduces and emphasizes the term “ignitible liquid” compared to “flammable and combustible liquid.” The terms “flammable and combustible liquid,” have been changed to “ignitible (flammable and combustible) liquid”. This revision does not affect existing code requirements, only the nomenclature used to describe the liquids. The nomenclature was changed for two reasons. The first is that transportation and workplace codes use different flash points for the terms, “flammable” and “combustible.” Different definitions can create user confusion, potentially impair a user’s understanding of a liquid’s fire hazard and impact decisions made to protect against ignitible liquid fires. To clarify the potential for a liquid to produce ignitible vapors, the 2021 edition emphasizes the use of Liquid Class (Class IA, IB, IC, II, IIIA, and IIIB), which are tied to closed cup flash points, or in the case of Class IA and IB liquids, are tied to both the closed cup flash point and the boiling point. The term “flammable liquid” is now defined as a Class I liquid and a “combustible liquid” is defined as a Class II or III liquid. The second reason relates to the potential misconception that the term, “combustible liquid,” implies a lesser fire hazard than compared to fires involving flammable liquids. Full scale fire testing demonstrated that combustible liquids can generate fires that can approach the intensity of those generated with flammable liquids. What’s new in storage? Storage requirements for various ignitible liquids have also been revised. One notable change is that the exemption for beverages, medicines, foodstuffs, cosmetics, and other consumer products containing water-miscible ignitible liquids was lowered from greater than 50 percent by volume to greater than 20 percent by volume. Fire testing on consumer products with greater than 20 percent water-miscible ignitible liquids demonstrated that these commodities are not adequately protected using fire protection measures in NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. Therefore, these products are required to be protected under NFPA 30 requirements. Chapters 12 and 16 were revised based on fire testing with Class IB, IC, II, IIIA and Class IIIB liquids. NFPA 30 Table 12.8.1 which addresses the Liquid-Container Combinations Permitted in a Protected General-Purpose Warehouse was extensively revised. Fire testing demonstrated that the criteria in Chapter 16 of NFPA 30 can effectively control fires involving eight new liquid/storage combinations listed in Table 12.8.1. Six new Chapter 16 fire protection design tables specify requirements for new combinations of liquid classes (or liquids), containers, and storage configurations. Some of these tables reference new Fire Protection Schemes “D”, “E”, and “F” that introduce new storage and sprinkler layouts. What’s going on with tanks and piping now? NFPA 30 now indicates that either water or product can be used for ballast to protect against flooding to provide more flexibility in protecting tanks when a flood is expected. The 2021 edition also specifies the conditions under which anchorage of API 650 tanks is required to prevent sliding or overturning. Two design standards were also added to the list of atmospheric tank standards recognized by NFPA 30 to assists code officials and users. UL142A applies to special purpose aboveground oil and day tanks, while UL 2258 applies to nonmetallic tanks for fuel oils and other combustible liquids. A new section in the code provides requirements for metallic/nonmetallic composite piping that references two standards. UL 971A covers hybrid composite systems (pipe and fittings) for underground use and UL/ULC 1369, a new standard, addresses above ground pipes constructed with metallic, nonmetallic or composite materials. This summary reflects some of the revisions in the 2021 edition of NFPA 30. As with all NFPA codes and standards, a consensus process was employed so that NFPA 30 is addressing the needs of professionals who deal with ignitible liquids. NFPA 30 is now available in NFPA LiNK™ - the Association’s new information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. NFPA LiNK subscribers will have convenient, digital access to new editions of 300-plus NFPA codes and standards (as they are released/uploaded), previous versions of codes, as well as updates on new helpful features and functions. More information about NFPA LiNK, a timeline of additional codes and standards that will be added, and an introduction video can be found at nfpa.org/LiNK.
Posted: January 11, 2021, 12:00 am
NFPA has created a downloadable Warehouse Fire Safety Fact Sheet that provides statistics, safety benchmarks, and best practices for keeping storage structures, contents and occupants safe from harm. The piece was developed following last month’s popular NFPA Considerations for Warehouse Fire Safety webinar for contractors, installers, engineers, facility managers, and code officials. E-commerce, and the subsequent need for fulfillment facilities, has surged in recent years. This trend combined with large-scale, large-loss fire incidents at a Beirut, Lebanon shipping port, an Amazon distribution center in Redlands, California, and a recycling facility in South Carolina have spurred greater interest in warehouse fire safety today. NFPA research shows that warehouse fires happen at a frequent rate with an average of 1,410 warehouse fires, two deaths, 20 injuries, and an estimated $159.4 million in direct property damage annually. The new at-a-glance warehouse safety fact sheet draws on the guidance found in NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems and covers: Warehouse Fire Data Responsibility for Safety Commodity Classification Sprinkler Design Management of Change Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Fire Prevention Measures Importance of ITM Download the Warehouse Fire Safety Fact Sheet and check out the wide arrange of NFPA resources related to warehouse fire safety including the recent webinar,incident data, reports, suppression related research, and new information on Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinklers which are often installed in warehouses to avoid installation of in-rack sprinklers.
Posted: December 10, 2020, 12:00 am
This fall, NFPA introduced the launch of a video blog series highlighting the key functions and features of NFPA LiNK™, the newest digital platform for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. We discussed the dashboard and publications features, bookmarks and MyLiNK functionalities, as well as the search and share functions. In this, our last video in the series, we’re putting the spotlight on the “team access” feature that can assist you and your staff on the job. We all know in the workplace you are often working with a team of people. Maybe you’re in the engineering department designing systems and equipment or mapping out plans for a new hospital. Perhaps you’re in the field installing equipment in a new school. Regardless of your role, it is likely you are collaborating and working with others to complete your tasks. This is where NFPA LiNK can help play a part. With a teams or enterprise subscription, users have the ability to create collections and share notes. So as the supervisor you can now flag key areas to prepare your team for their next project. You can group together common questions and provide clarifications with your personal notes so your team has access to the information they need to be the very best at their job. Another great feature for managers includes the ability to put together collections on important topics to assist with training new hires or updating teams on the latest changes. Team members can also create their own team notes and collections to share peer to peer, as well. As your team grows or changes you can easily add and remove users by simply updating their email address in the administrator’s team management section. Invite a team member and they will receive an emailed invitation to join your team. A few clicks later they will able to take advantage of all the features available to them through NFPA LiNK. Learn more about team and enterprise subscriptions in the video below: There’s so much about NFPA LiNK you don’t want to miss. Whether you’re a manager or team member, there are so many functions and features within NFPA LiNK that will keep you connected and informed with everyone you work with. Learn more about how NFPA LiNK can elevate your work and help you accomplish your goals. Purchase or try NFPA LiNK today by visiting the website. Find more information about the platform, a timeline of additional codes and standards that will be coming to NFPA LiNK, and a product introduction video at nfpa.org/LiNK.
Posted: November 19, 2020, 12:00 am
NFPA is now offering digital badges to help stakeholders promote their professional achievements. Learners will earn a digital badge upon successful completion of select NFPA online learning and be able to share their badge(s) on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest or add a link to email signatures, resumes, and HTML cards. In short, digital badges demonstrate competency in a visual, shareable way. They verify that someone has successfully developed a certain skill or met an educational requirement that adds value for their current role or career aspirations. In recent years, the popularity of digital badging has grown significantly among students, professionals and practitioners. Employers looking to identify viable candidates and retain existing talent by offering opportunities for staff to upskill and potentially fill new openings are also embracing badging. To help those that take NFPA training project a competitive edge, three badge levels have been created, including: A Bronze Badge (Awareness) that demonstrates successful completion of a learning program and fundamental knowledge of facts and ideas A Silver Badge (Knowledge) that shows successful completion of a learning program and application of acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules A Gold Badge (Analysis) that emphasizes successful completion of a learning program and the ability to analyze content, present opinions or make judgements about the information based on a set of criteria Four NFPA online training courses currently offer badging with two more to be added soon: Swinging Fire Door Inspection 2021 NFPA 3000: Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response 2019 NFPA 241: Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations Construction Site Fire Safety Fundamentals Fire and Life Safety Operator (coming late 2020) Fire Prevention Program Manager (coming February 2021) NFPA is using Badgr to make digital badges available. After successfully completing one of the online courses identified above, a badge will appear immediately in the learner’s NFPA Training Portal and will be available via Badgr.com within 24-48 hours of earning the credential. Registration for a free Badgr account is required to access all digital badge functionality, including validation and sharing capabilities. Not familiar with digital badging? In the early 2000s, big names like Microsoft Xbox 360, social media site FourScore and even the Boy Scouts began using online badging to engage audiences, according to Chief Learning Officer. In the years since, higher-education institutions and forward-thinking organizations have offered and welcomed the informative icons because they help to tell the story of work experiences and learning achievements in a way that is more dynamic, detailed, and portable. NFPA training and education continues to be regarded as the gold standard for fire, electrical, building and life safety learning; and recently introduced a wide array of new online learning, live virtual training, and Certification Learning Paths to meet the demands of today’s busy, tech-savvy workforce.
Posted: November 17, 2020, 12:00 am
An outdated and stained floor covering requires update and replacement, a new office tenant requests a reconfigured office space, a new commercial stove and oven is needed for a cafeteria, or a hotel guest room is converted into extra storage space. Buildings are always undergoing work to maintain their systems and features in good working conditions, and to reconfigure and upgrade their space. So, when work is being done to a building, how does the Life Safety Code apply? Prior to 2006, editions of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, required all modernizations, renovations, additions, and changes of occupancy, to the extent practicable, to comply with the requirements for new construction. Often, however, building rehabilitation is not undertaken because of the perception that unwanted or unwarranted upgrades will be forced on the building owner. Chapter 43, added in 2006, was written to encourage the adaptive reuse of compliant, existing structures. The former philosophy of “that which you do must meet new” is relaxed. Now, with the detailed provisions contained in Chapter 43, only those requirements necessary to achieve the intended level of life safety are mandated in lieu of requiring strict compliance with the requirements applicable to new buildings. Chapter 43 presents provisions based on a set of concepts including the following: During a rehabilitation project, a building must meet the base level of life safety required by the Code chapter applicable to the existing occupancy. The rehabilitation work must maintain or increase the level of Code compliance. Rehabilitation work in existing construction elements or building features is held to a lower standard than rehabilitation work in new elements or features. Upgrades are typically required only in the rehabilitation work areas, not throughout the entire occupancy or building. What if my building requires corrective actions as a result of a Code deficiency? Let's say you are planning to renovate an entire tenant space to in your existing office building. However, it is determined that your existing office building exceeds the maximum allowable travel distance. The provisions of Chapter 43 are to be used once the existing building is brought into compliance with the appropriate occupancy chapter requirements applicable to that existing occupancy. Work done to correct a deficiency is not subject to the provisions of Chapter 43. Once your existing office building is compliant the additional planned work to the tenant space will use Chapter 43 to determine the provisions that apply to that work. Your existing office building undergoing the renovation is held, as a starting point, to the same requirements that apply to any other existing business occupancy building. Some of the occupancy chapters have requirements that supplement those of Chapter 43 and impose the requirements for new construction on existing buildings that are being rehabilitated, including those situations in which the use is changed to increase the occupant load. For example, mercantile occupancies are further subclassified as a Class A, Class B, or Class C mercantile occupancy, based on the floor area used for sales purposes. After determining that Chapter 43 applies to the work in my building, what determines compliance with new or existing requirements? Establishing a level of Code compliance uses a stepped approach to mandate requirements. Minor levels of rehabilitation must meet minimal requirements; major rehabilitation projects must meet more significant requirements. Chapter 43 defines seven categories of rehabilitation work: repair, renovation, modification, reconstruction, change of use, change of occupancy and addition. Understanding and properly defining these seven categories are a key concept of this chapter for achieving the objective of proportionality of work. That is, the more work that is proposed for the rehabilitation project, the more work that might be required by the Code in terms of upgrading existing conditions. Incorrectly defining the category/categories of work on a rehabilitation project can result in over- or under-applying critical fire and life safety requirements from the Code to your building. Identifying the category of work being performed will then determine the extent to which the Code is applied to that work. Any building undergoing rehabilitation will comply with the requirements of the applicable existing occupancy chapter plus any additional requirements for the applicable new occupancy as called out specifically in Chapter 43. For example, a simple repair, such as replacing a few ceiling tiles in an office that were damaged due to a water leak, would be required to use like materials and result in an installation no less conforming than it was prior to the repair (existing). Reconstruction work, such as gutting an entire floor in an existing hotel building to create hotel guest suites from individual guest rooms individual guest rooms, requires a more extensive and detailed application of Code requirements for the work being performed. Among other requirements, newly constructed elements, components, and systems are required to comply with the requirements of other Code sections applicable to new construction. What are some other considerations when applying Chapter 43 to a rehabilitation project? Chapter 43, with the exception of the provisions for reconstruction, does not mandate improvements or set minimum acceptable standards for spaces that are not undergoing rehabilitation. Incidental work in other areas of the building may be required depending on the extent of the work (for example, extending a fire alarm system may require upgrades to the fire alarm panel that are outside the original rehabilitation work area but are necessary as part of the project.) A single work project may have more than one rehabilitation work category (for example, a reconstruction may also result in a change of occupancy) The provisions of Chapter 43 should not prevent the use of equivalent designs, systems or approaches if deemed acceptable by the AHJ. Work mandated by any accessibility, property, housing, or fire code; mandated by the existing building requirements of this Code; or mandated by any licensing rule or ordinance, are not required to conform to Chapter 43. Construction, alteration and demolition operations that may accompany rehabilitation projects must comply with the provisions for NFPA 241. Both new and existing occupancy chapters now contain pointers back to NFPA 241 for this work. Interested in learning more about the specifics of rehabilitation work categories and compliance options for applying the building rehabilitation requirements in NFPA 101 to real world examples? This December we will be offering a 2-hour virtual, live training on this topic! Be on the lookout in the NFPA catalog at www.nfpa.org/catalog soon for more details and registration information. And finally, if you found this article helpful, subscribe to the NFPA Network Newsletter for monthly, personalized content related to the world of fire, electrical, and building & life safety. Thanks for reading, stay safe!
Posted: October 16, 2020, 12:00 am
With industries still adapting to the demands of COVID-19 and the typical, ongoing backlog in ITM (inspection, testing and maintenance), RVI continues to cause quite the buzz. Health Facilities Management magazine featured the technology as the cover story in their recent issue, including insights from Jonathan Hart, an NFPA tech lead for building and life safety and from Kevin Carr, the staff liaison for NFPA's proposed standard on remote inspections. Up until the pandemic hit, RVI was not widely employed, but the technology offers a range of benefits that are hard to ignore for those charged with facility inspections and maintenance. Whether it is gaining access during a pandemic when buildings may be shut down or operating at reduced capacity, assisting AHJs that have fewer staff members, or for those authorities that are using drones to examine large buildings with cumbersome exteriors—remote inspections are increasingly becoming an attractive option. Despite its appeal to many, RVI can have issues such as performance impacts by lighting or internet service, inconsistent use methods, and (in the case of the HFM article), healthcare privacy. To use RVI effectively, the article emphasizes the guidance that NFPA has generated to date: gain AHJ pre-approval develop policies to share with key stakeholders communicate results with all parties in a timely manner Meanwhile, NFPA 915, Standard for Remote Inspections (proposed standard), a document that covers requirements for various types of remote inspections, recently opened for Public Input (PI) and will accept proposed revisions until June 1, 2021. “This is an important phase of the NFPA standards development process where any member of the public can submit a change to the most recent draft or edition of the standard,” says Kevin Carr, staff liaison, NFPA 915. “The technical committee will then meet after the Public Input Closing Date (PICD) to begin reviewing this input.” NFPA 915 was supposed to go before the Standards Council later this year but instead was considered in August. The guidance is expected to be published as an adoptable standard in late 2023. Interested parties can review NFPA 915, see meeting schedules, submit a public input, and sign up for alerts pertaining to the document at nfpa.org/915. Be sure to see the news section on this page for recent, related RVI content.
Posted: September 17, 2020, 12:00 am
Yesterday morning, an explosion, most likely involving natural gas, ripped through three rowhouses in northwest Baltimore, leaving two dead and seven more transported to hospitals. The blast occurred on the 4-year anniversary of another Maryland natural gas explosion, which killed seven and injured nearly ten times as many in the city of Silver Springs in 2016. While the cause of this recent explosion remains under investigation, the damages sustained in the Baltimore incident are reminiscent of similar fuel gas explosions we've seen in recent years in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts in 2018 and Farmington, Maine last September. Fuel gases include natural gas, manufactured gas, liquefied petroleum (LP) gas (typically propane & butane), or mixtures of these gases that are distributed commercially and used in gas appliances for cooking and heating. There are several different codes, standards, and regulations here in the U.S that govern the safe use of fuel gas systems. The codes, standards, and regulations apply to both the fuel gas being used and those responsible for each part of the system. For natural gas systems, the utility company (in this case Baltimore Gas and Electric) is responsible for the transmission lines and piping up to the service meter at the customer's house. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulate gas utilities and jurisdictional requirements are listed under Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Responsibility for gas from the outlet of the service meter to the appropriate gas appliance lies with the customer and is addressed within NFPA 54 National Fuel Gas Code. NFPA research found that an estimated 4,200 home structure fires per year were started with the ignition of natural gas and caused an average of 40 deaths. Looking back at recent incidents, we know that the Merrimack Valley fire and explosions was caused by an over-pressurization in the utility gas transmission lines which caused damage to customer-owned equipment. One person was killed, dozens of explosions and fires damaged more than 40 homes, and 30,000 residents and business owners were forced to evacuate. In the case of the LEAP Building explosion in Maine, gas piping outside the home was punctured by a drilling operation that caused gas to migrate into the basement of the building. That incident killed one firefighter, injured others and destroyed a non-profit building. Combustion requires three things - fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source. In the case of natural gas explosions, the leaking gas is the fuel. Ambient air serves as the oxygen, which in the right proportion with the fuel, forms an ignitable mixture. The last part of the triangle is an ignition source to spark the vapor/air mixture. When gas enters an occupancy (either from the outside or from an appliance leak within the home), simple gestures like turning on the stove or switching on a light switch can serve as the ignition source. Both natural gas and LP-Gas are colorless and odorless, which makes detecting a leak difficult. When fuel gases are used for consumer application, they are treated with an odorant that emits a distinct smell and helps to alert parties nearby that a leak has occurred. Despite odorization efforts, odor fades and not everyone can detect odor readily. Based on incidents like yesterday, various parties have asked for the development and installation of gas detection devices for residential applications. NFPA 715, Standard for the Installation of Fuel Gases Detection and Warning Equipment is in the early developmental stages prior to beginning full public review. NFPA 715 addresses recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) investigation following the Silver Springs explosion; it will cover the selection, design, application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fuel gas detection and warning equipment in buildings and structures. The Standards Council decided to begin the full NFPA 715 revision process and invites stakeholders to submit public inputs at this point. Additionally, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, will soon complete a report on combustible gas detector (CGD) placement that looks to use modeling work to justify requirements in NFPA 715 for the best location of CGD in order to ensure early and accurate detection of leaks. The incident in Baltimore and the other events I have noted above underscore the need for sharing and understanding simple gas leak safety measures. Here are some that come to mind: Prior to any construction work, be sure to contact Dig Safe or similar local authorities to prevent accidental damage to buried underground piping as digging is a frequent cause of damage to the main line before the meter. If you smell gas – typically a rotten egg smell due to the mercaptan odorant - leave the area or building immediately. Avoid possible ignition sources such as matches and lighters, light switches, flashlights, telephones, cell phones and other communication devices if you do smell that rotten egg smell. Do not start a car or ring doorbells either. Get to a safe area and call 911 to report a gas leak. Then follow the instructions of any on-site emergency responders or utility employees, as they respond to the leak. For more information on NFPA 54 or the proposed NFPA 715, visit nfpa.org.
Posted: August 11, 2020, 12:00 am
One of the most notable features about NFPA standards is that their development process is open and consensus-based. That means anybody can participate in the development of these important documents and the standards reflect the professional insight of their various stakeholders and end-users. This goes for NFPA's wildfire standards as well and their current revision process is underway. This process includes a consolidation effort, review of term definitions, and technical updates. Below is an overview of that current process by Barry Chase, NFPA Standards Lead for Emergency Response and Responder Safety. Barry is also the Staff Liaison to the NFPA technical committees on Wildland Fire Management and Wildland and Rural Fire Protection. He explains the consolidation effort and technical changes the committee are examining. Their process is public and you can both learn more about their deliberations (narrative below) and submit your own comments for official consideration (steps described at end). Barry shares, "By far, the largest and most obvious change in this revision cycle is the consolidation of four wildland standards: NFPA 1051, NFPA 1141, NFPA 1143, and NFPA 1144 into a single, new document, titled, NFPA 1140 Standard for Wildland Fire Management. This consolidation is part of a larger plan to eliminate redundancy and align content across all of the emergency management, emergency response, and responder safety standards. The consolidation will also simplify the standards-buying experience, which is something that our stakeholders have requested. I should mention that NFPA 1142 Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting and NFPA 1145 Guide for the Use of Class A Foams in Fire Fighting are also being revised at the same time, but they will remain as separate, standalone documents. One area where the consolidation of four standards into one will have a noticeable impact is the definitions of terms. Because the four standards were developed by different groups of people at different times, the definitions for several key terms were not consistent across all four books. Going forward, we will have a single definition for: defensible space, fire hazard, fuel, incident action plan (IAP), jurisdiction, risk, slope, wildland fire, and wildland/urban interface. While most of the focus has been on editorial adjustments and technical alignment of the consolidated material in NFPA 1140, some topics that could see significant technical changes include the following: [Note: These are shared with the standard number, followed by its referenced chapter] Building separation and setback distances [1140: 12.2] Automatic protection of one- and two-family dwellings and residential apartment buildings [1140: 14.1] Planning for physical space as an element of the community's emergency operational plan [1140: 17.7] Planning for backfill costs as an element of the wildland fire response plan [1140: 20.2] Building construction design and materials specifications [1140: 2.2] Guidance on air operations for wildland fire incidents [1140: Annex J] Minimum water supply and delivery rates [1142: 4.6.1] Water availability studies [1142: 7.1.7, along with several new definitions] Water supply strainer clearance [1142: 8.5] Guidance on the use of floating submersible source pumps [1142: E.5.5] Class A foam mix tables [1145: 4.2.1] I encourage anyone with an interest in wildland fire management to review and comment on the first draft reports by following the "submit a public comment" option. The comment period ends on October 9, 2020.” Photo Credit: Firewise USA Photo Library As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA's response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage. Follow NFPA's FireBreak blog and you can also follow me on twitter @LucianNFPA for more international wildfire and policy related topics.
Posted: August 6, 2020, 12:00 am
Each year in June, NFPA honors various professionals working in different ways to reduce loss in our world. These individuals are raising awareness of persistent challenges, addressing hazards in new, innovative ways and helping to raise the bar on safety in proactive, progressive ways. Paul D. Martin, retired Deputy State Fire Administrator with the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service's Office of Fire Prevention and Control, is the winner of the 2019 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal. The award was established in honor of Jim Shannon who served as NFPA president for 12 years; he proactively championed key changes that reduced fire hazards and was a passionate proponent of home fire sprinklers. Paul Martin started his fire service career more than 40 years ago, and has been an advocate for campus fire safety, both on and off campus. He served as a director of the non-profit Center for Campus Fire Safety for more than 12 years, (six years as president) and led efforts to launch a Campus Fire Safety Awareness Day at dozens of campuses throughout New York. Martin was also instrumental in New York becoming the first state to pass Fire Safe Cigarette requirements, essentially paving the way for other states to do so too. Additionally, Martin served as co-chair of Prevention, Advocacy, Resource and Data Exchange (PARADE), a program the United States Fire Administration designed to exchange fire-related prevention/ protection information and resources between federal, state, and local levels of government. The Standards Medal is the most distinguished award given by the NFPA Standards Council. It recognized and honors outstanding contributions to fire safety. Peter J. Willse is the 2020 recipient of the Standards Medal. Willse began his professional career as a field engineer for Industrial Risk Insurers (IRI) and moved on to U.S. and international roles for several years before IRI became GE Global Asset Protection Services (GAPS) and ultimately XL Insurance, where he became the director of research. Willse oversees relationships between GAPS, NFPA, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), and Underwriters Laboratories. He is responsible for the publication of GAP Guidelines manuals and teaches in areas of building construction, combustion controls, natural hazards, and special hazards. Willse has also authored articles on Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems (EIFS) and fire walls and has revised chapters for multiple editions of NFPA's Fire Protection Handbook. A firefighter/ EMT in Connecticut, Willse serves as an advisor for fire cadets and acts as deputy fire marshal. A former NFPA Board of Directors and Standards Council member, Willse sits on several other NFPA committees today, as well as on the FPRF Board of Trustees and Worcester Polytechnic lnstitute (WPI) Fire Protection Engineering Advisory Board. The Research Foundation Medal recognizes one Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation) project from the previous year that best exemplifies the Foundation's fire safety mission, commitment to overcoming technical challenges and collaborative approach. An awards committee comprised of representatives from the Research Foundation Board, Research Advisory Committee, and NFPA technical staff reviewed 24 project summaries, along with staff assessments. They selected Digitized Fuel Load Survey Methodology Using Machine Vision which addresses the need to provide reliable fuel load data to quantify design fires for buildings as the winner. The availability of fuel load data has been hindered by the lack of an efficient building surveying method, but this project developed and applied a new digitized methodology for fuel load surveys using machine vision that can facilitate the collection, storage, and analysis of fuel load data for a variety of building occupancies. Negar Elhami-Khorasani, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo (NY), Thomas Gernay, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (MD), and Juan Gustavo Salado Castillo, Esther Saula, Timothy Josephs, and Gauhar Nurlybekova, students in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Buffalo (NY) are the recipients of this award. Maria Bostian, public education and information officer for Kannapolis (N.C.) Fire Department, has received the 2019 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award, as well as a $1000 honorarium for her and $1000 to support public education activities in her community. Annually, NFPA confers this award on a dedicated educator who works for a fire department of fire marshal's office in the U.S. or Canada and uses NFPA materials in consistent and creative educational ways. She teams up each year with her community's local pet supply store to stage a Pet Fire Safety Day; and elevates safety awareness by using NFPA's Learn Not to Burn® preschool program and NFPA's Remembering When™ program for older adults. In 2019, Bostian visited a preschool classroom with the Fire Prevention Week theme of “Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.” She emphasized the importance of knowing two ways out of every room in the event of a fire and reinforced this key messaging with customized handouts for the children. This decision proved to be lifesaving for one of the preschoolers; who after the lesson experienced a house fire and got her siblings and herself to safety. Bostian also promotes fire safety through two children's picture books she authored – underscoring vital safety information found within NFPA's Educational Messaging Advisory Council's Desk Reference. The 2020 Harry C. Bigglestone Award is given annually to a paper appearing in Fire Technology that best represents excellence in the communication of fire protection concepts. The award honors the memory of Harry C. Bigglestone, who served as a trustee of the Fire Protection Research Foundation and was a fellow and past president of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers; it comes with a $5,000 cash prize from NFPA. “Should We Leave Now? Behavioral Factors in Evacuation Under Wildfire Threat” by Jim McLennan, adjunct professor, school of psychology and public health, La Trobe University; Barbara Ryan, senior lecturer, school of arts and communication, University of Southern Queensland; Chris Bearman, associate professor of cognitive psychology; Queensland University (Adelaide campus); and Keith Toh, deputy dean of learning and teaching, RMIT University is this year's winner. Congratulations to this year's impressive winners!
Posted: June 18, 2020, 12:00 am
At its April 1, 2020 meeting, the NFPA Standards Council approved the committee restructuring for the NFPA 1, Fire Code project. The Fire Code has a very broad scope which addresses a variety of hazards. Following issuance of the 2021 edition of NFPA 1, the project will be developed by three technical committees (Technical Committee on Fundamentals; Technical Committee on Building Systems and Special Occupancies; and Technical Committee on Special Equipment, Processes and Hazardous Materials) and a correlating committee (Fire Code Correlating Committee). The new, multiple committee structure allows for more focused engagement by industry experts. NFPA is currently accepting online committee membership applications for these new committees. The deadline for submission of applications to be reviewed at the December 2020 Standards Council meeting is August 28, 2020. Anyone wishing to apply should first review the approved scopes and responsibilities below before submitting application: Technical Committee on Fundamentals (FCC-FUN): Submit online application Committee scope: This committee shall have primary responsibility for documents on the basic goals, objectives, performance requirements, classification of occupancy, general safety requirements, building services, fire department access, and definitions for the purpose of providing safety to life and property from fire and explosion. Responsibility: NFPA 1, Fire Code, Chapters 1-11, 15 and 18 NFPA 1, Fire Code, Annexes A-D and Annex Technical Committee on Building Systems and Special Occupancies (FCC-OCP): Submit online application Committee scope: This committee shall have primary responsibility for documents on building fire protection and life safety systems, construction operations, occupancy fire safety and definitions for the purpose of providing safety to life and property from fire and explosion. Responsibility: NFPA 1, Fire Code, Chapters 3, 12-14, 16-17, and 19-39 NFPA 1, Fire Code, Annexes A and E Technical Committee on Special Equipment, Processes, and Hazardous Materials (FCC-HAZ): Submit online application Committee scope: This committee shall have primary responsibility for documents on special equipment and processes in buildings, the storage, use and handling of hazardous materials indoors and outdoors, and definitions for the purpose of providing safety to life and property from fire and explosion. Responsibility: NFPA 1, Fire Code, Chapters 3 and 40-75 NFPA 1, Fire Code, Annex A Fire Code Correlating Committee (FCC-AAC): Submit online application* Committee scope: This committee shall have primary responsibility for documents on a Fire Prevention Code that includes appropriate administrative provisions, to be used with the National Fire Codes for the installation, operation, and maintenance of buildings, structures, and premises for the purpose of providing safety to life and property from fire and explosion. This includes development of requirements for, and maintenance of, systems and equipment for fire control and extinguishment. Safety to life of occupants of buildings and structures is under the primary jurisdiction of the Committee on Safety to Life. Responsibility: NFPA 1, Fire Code NOTE*: Typically, correlating committee membership is limited to people with technical committee experience. If you are interested in serving on the correlating committee but have never served on an NFPA technical committee we encourage you to first apply to a technical committee. The Council notes that the current committee responsible for the development of NFPA 1 is to complete its work through the issuance and effective date of the current processing cycle. Council anticipates the disbanding of the current NFPA 1 committee and appointing the initial roster of the new committees at the December 2020 Council meeting.
Posted: May 13, 2020, 12:00 am
NFPA Develops Additional Guidance for Health Care Facilities Working to Establish and Maintain Adequate Levels of Fire and Life Safety during COVID-19 Pandemic
When health care facilities are operating under the conditions like the ones the U.S. health care system is facing right now, stressors are placed on everything, including physical space, staffing levels, available supplies, and the level of care being provided. Everyday code-based solutions simply will not work in many circumstances. With that understanding, NFPA has released a new resource as we continue to provide guidance to health care providers working to establish and maintain adequate fire and life safety levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Compiled from input received by various sources including NFPA's Healthcare Interpretations Task Force (HITF), the latest white paper, “Considerations for Temporary Compliance Options in Health Care Environments During COVID-19” reflects feedback from authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), federal, state and local officials, health care industry professionals, and others who have identified multiple compliance challenges and issues that health care facilities are currently facing. The paper discusses ongoing challenges not only in purpose-built hospitals, but also in the alternate care sites such as convention centers and hotels. NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code include a range of requirements that are primarily applied through the prescriptive criteria contained in each document. However, each document also permits the use of equivalencies to determine if the level of prescribed safety can be achieved with other means or measures, including the use of risk-based approaches, performance-based approaches, or other concepts. The new white paper provides an overview of these compliance options. It also uses portions of NFPA 550, Guide to the Fire Safety Concepts Tree, highlighting the fundamental “decision tree” that can be used to achieve the fire safety objectives of a building, structure, or process under virtually any configuration or scenario imaginable. The examples of compliance challenges and considerations for addressing these issues can help provide the level of fire protection and life safety intended by the prevailing codes and standards, as well as the broad guidance put forth by CMS. While they don't satisfy all of the provisions that are normally required, the intent of the document is to make sure that these safety issues are not overlooked during the accelerated construction phase related to the current public health emergency. Overall, our goal has been to help facility managers, engineers, designers, AHJs, and others assess the common scenarios and challenges they are seeing against what is normally required, recognizing that each situation has its own unique variables. We will continue to provide resources and support for health care facilities as new information is put forward. As soon as the pandemic begins to subside and facilities return to a normal level of care, these interim or temporary measures should be withdrawn, and facilities should resume their normal operational processes and procedures. Also, check the NFPA website for additional key resources and information that address emergency planning, building, fire and life safety issues as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted: April 14, 2020, 12:00 am