NFPA NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates Blogs
Latest NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates posts from NFPA blogs
For the past two years, NFPA LiNK® has provided professionals with an interactive digital alternative to hardcopy codebooks, offering access to NFPA® codes and standards on the user’s favorite device. On May 15, NFPA LiNK will be adding 25 additional codes and standards within the organization’s vast scope of publications, including the latest edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. For those unfamiliar with NFPA 70E, this standard establishes requirements for safe work practices to protect personnel by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards. NFPA 70E helps companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast, and assists in complying with OSHA regulations. Along with the National Electrical Code® and NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, NFPA 70E aids professionals across the globe in maintaining electrical safety. In addition to the 2024 edition of NFPA 70E, new editions of 24 other NFPA documents will publish in NFPA LiNK on the 15th, including: · NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code · NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations · NFPA 90A, Standard for the Installation of Air-Conditioning and Ventilating Systems · NFPA 556, Guide on Methods for Evaluating Fire Hazard to Occupants of Passenger Road Vehicles · NFPA 820, Standard for Fire Protection in Wastewater Treatment and Collection Facilities With staffing shortages plaguing the industry and valuable time at all-time low, all workers in the electrical, fire, and life safety space need to be able to readily access the most up-to-date codes and standards. No longer can individuals rely on a single team member to carry a codebook holding valuable notes in its margins and earmarks on commonly cited pages. It’s more important than ever for stakeholders to collaborate, share resources, and plan accordingly while in the design and build process. Innovative resources like NFPA LiNK are at the heart of enabling this productive way of work, offering: · Notetaking features for individuals to add personal notes and collaborate with others, share code sections, and work across teams · Interactive Change Indicators that make it easier to identify and understand changes and deletions made from edition to edition · Bookmarks to save custom collections for quick and easy reference · Navigation tools that enable users to bookmark text and quickly locate information · NFPA DiRECT®, a situational navigation tool to help professionals identify codes related to the unique projects they encounter Interested in learning more? NFPA recently debuted a supplementary NFPA LiNK YouTube channel, complementing the platform by providing users with tutorials and quick-start video guides for optimizing NFPA LiNK, as well as content discussing industry-specific codes, classifications, and requirements for electrical, fire, and life safety. For more information about NFPA LiNK, or to sign up for a free trial, visit nfpa.org/LiNK.
Posted: May 9, 2023, 12:00 am
January 2023 was a significant month in the evolution of NFPA 70B as it transitioned from the Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance to the Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. Issued by the NFPA® Standards Council on December 27, 2022, the 2023 edition of NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, became effective on January 16, 2023, when it was approved as an American National Standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It has been 50 years since the first version of NFPA 70B was issued in 1973 as a recommended practice, which provided recommendations on what should be done. Now, the move to a standard provides more enforceability for what must be done when it comes to electrical equipment maintenance. That is a win-win for both the reliability of electrical equipment and the overall safety of the electrical systems and those individuals tasked with working on them. Why is electrical equipment maintenance important? Unexpected shutdowns can be detrimental to companies, yet they happen every day due to equipment failure. Just as vehicles require regular upkeep to remain reliable as usage and aging persist, maintenance is also vital for electrical systems to stay dependable when they are needed. Even more critical than the safety of the electrical system itself is the safety of those responsible for working on those systems. Equipment can be replaced; lives cannot. In part, the defined purpose of NFPA 70B is “to provide for the practical safeguarding of persons, property, and processes from the risks associated with failure, breakdown, or malfunction” of electrical equipment. An additional part of the scope also serves to provide “a means to establish a condition of maintenance of electrical equipment and systems for safety and reliability.” A key term within the defined purpose of NFPA 70B is condition of maintenance. If you work regularly with electrical codes and standards, that term may be familiar to you. According to a quick search using NFPA LiNK®, the term condition of maintenance is used 59 times in the 2023 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), and six times in the 2021 edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. While the term is mentioned fewer times in NFPA 70E, establishing a condition of maintenance is paramount in being able to accomplish the requirements outlined within the pages of the document to help keep workers safe. As an example, NFPA 70E, Section 110.5(A), requires employers to implement and document an electrical safety program (ESP) that directs activity appropriate to the risk associated with electrical hazards. Additionally, the ESP is required to include elements that consider the condition of maintenance of electrical equipment and systems. Without question, electrical equipment that has not been maintained properly or is not functioning properly poses a significant additional risk to those who are working on that equipment and its associated systems. NFPA 70E states that we must address and consider conditions of maintenance for applications—for example, estimating the likelihood of severity in both shock risk and arc flash risk assessments. NFPA 70B is the standard that can now be both utilized and enforced, to ensure that the proper conditions of maintenance have been established. Along with NFPA 70B and NFPA 70E, it is also important to keep in mind that the NEC is an important part of this conversation. A code-compliant installation that has been designed, installed, and inspected in accordance with NEC requirements is foundational in being able to incorporate the other standards. Once installation has taken place, NFPA 70B can assist in the maintenance aspect, while NFPA 70E can provide the work practices necessary to keep employees safe, while also meeting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. The NEC, NFPA 70B, and NFPA 70E all become critical components, one just as important as the others, in order to achieve the electrical cycle of safety. While it may take some time for jurisdictions to determine how to best utilize and enforce NFPA 70B, the NFPA Standards Council’s recent decision to make the document a standard opens the door to that possibility. Because proper maintenance is critical to achieving reliability and safety of electrical equipment and systems—and, more importantly, the safety of workers that interact with them—it is well worth the effort to enforce NFPA 70B as a standard, making it another tool to assist in achieving overall electrical safety in the world. Find out more information and gain free access to the standard by visiting the NFPA 70B document information page.
Posted: March 8, 2023, 12:00 am
Changes to Kitchen Island and Peninsula Receptacle Outlet Requirements for the Past Three NEC Editions
Requirements for kitchen island and peninsula receptacle outlets have been a part of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) since the 1990 edition. At that time, 210.52(c) stated: “Island and peninsula counter tops 12 inches (305 millimeters) or wider shall have at least one receptacle for each four feet (1.22 meters) of counter top.” Over the course of the next 30-plus years, there were many significant changes made around island and peninsula receptacle outlet requirements within the NEC. Perhaps no changes to these requirements represented a larger swing of the pendulum than those we have seen over the past three cycles: the 2017, 2020, and 2023 NEC. 2017 NEC Requirements The following are the relevant sections and requirements for island and peninsula receptacle outlets based on the 2017 NEC. They have been paraphrased in this blog. · 210.52(C)(2) and 210.52(C)(3) require at least one receptacle to be installed at each island or peninsula having a countertop with a long dimension of 24 inches (600 millimeters) or greater and a short dimension of 12 inches (300 millimeters) or greater. o The peninsula countertop dimension is measured from the connected perpendicular wall. · 210.52(C), Exception to (5) allows for receptacle outlets to be mounted a maximum of 12 inches (300 millimeters) below island and peninsula countertops and work surfaces as long as they are not located where the countertop or work surface extends more than 6 inches (150 millimeters) beyond its support base, in either of these two scenarios: o Where the construction is for the physically impaired. o On island or peninsula countertops or work surfaces where the surface is entirely flat (e.g., no backsplash) and has no means to mount a receptacle within 20 inches above the countertop or work surface, such as on an overhead cabinet. One of the significant changes between the 2014 and 2017 NEC requirements was in 210.52(C)(3) addressing peninsular countertop spaces. In the 2014 NEC, the peninsular countertop was required to be measured from the “connecting edge,” which was then changed to measuring from the “connected perpendicular wall” in the 2017 NEC. In the 2017 NEC, 210.52(C), Exception to (5) was revised to also include “work surfaces” as being a part of the requirement, along with countertops. This is consistent with changes in other areas within 210.52 of the 2017 NEC that added the term work surfaces, including changing the title of 210.52(C) to “Countertops and Work Surfaces.” 2020 NEC Requirements In the 2020 NEC, island and peninsula receptacle outlet requirements saw a major overhaul from those in the 2017 NEC. Where the 2017 NEC required at least one receptacle outlet to be installed in islands and peninsulas with a long dimension of 24 inches or greater and a short dimension of 12 inches or greater, there was never a scenario that required more than one receptacle outlet to be installed in these locations. Changes to the 2020 NEC required at least one receptacle outlet to be installed in all islands and peninsulas, and potentially more depending on the overall square footage of the countertop or work surface for the island or peninsula. Here is an overview of the changes to 210.52(C) in the 2020 NEC (paraphrased): · 210.52(C)(2) has been revised to cover both islands and peninsulas and has added the following requirements: o At least one receptacle outlet must be installed within an island or peninsula for the first 9 square feet (0.84 square meters), or fraction thereof, of the countertop or work surface. o An additional receptacle outlet must be installed within an island or peninsula for each additional 18 square feet (1.7 square meters), or fraction thereof, of the countertop or work surface. o At least one receptacle outlet must be installed within 2 feet (600 millimeters) of the outer end of a peninsula countertop or work surface. o Additional required receptacle outlets are permitted to be located as determined by the installer, designer, or building owner. o A peninsula countertop must be measured from the connected perpendicular wall. o The location of the receptacle outlets must be in accordance with 210.52(C)(3). The picture below depicts a 3-foot by 8-foot island. Based on changes to the 2020 NEC, the first 9 square feet (represented by the light blue area) require a receptacle outlet to be installed. That leaves a 3-foot by 5-foot area remaining in the yellow area. That area totals 15 square feet, therefore falling into a fraction of an additional 18 square feet and requiring an additional receptacle on the island, for a total of two. The locations that these two receptacles are installed must be done in accordance with 210.52(C)(3). For the 2020 NEC, 210.52(C)(3) was revised to cover receptacle outlet locations, which were previously covered in the 2017 NEC by 210.52(C)(5). Revised 210.52(C)(3) provides three different list items identifying where island and peninsula receptacles are permitted to be located (paraphrased): 1. On or above countertop or work surfaces, but no more than 20 inches above. 2. In the countertop or work surface using a receptacle outlet assembly that is listed for the application. 3. Where installed not more than 12 inches below the countertop or work surface and not located where the countertop or work surface extends more than 6 inches beyond its support base. Receptacle outlets that are not readily accessible or are located in assigned spaces for appliances within the peninsula or island (e.g., dishwasher, mini fridge, etc.) are not permitted to count as the required receptacles outlets for the island or peninsula. 2023 NEC Requirements Section 210.52(C)(2) saw extensive revisions between the 2020 and 2023 NEC. All of the requirements around receptacle outlets being installed based on the square footage of the countertop and work surface of islands and peninsulas were removed. Perhaps more significant, the requirement for any receptacle to be installed within islands and peninsulas was removed. You read that right: No receptacle outlet is required to be installed within islands or peninsulas based on the 2023 NEC—with a caveat. The revisions to 210.52(C)(2) in the 2023 NEC essentially changed island and peninsula receptacles to have two requirements (paraphrased): 1. Receptacle outlets in islands and peninsulas, if installed, must be done in accordance with 210.52(C)(3). 2. If a receptacle outlet is not provided for islands and peninsulas, provisions must be provided for the addition of a receptacle outlet in the future. Note: The means by which the provision is made for a future receptacle outlet is not stated by the NEC; therefore, the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) will need to be consulted to determine what they will consider as meeting this requirement. Watch a related video from the NFPA LiNK® YouTube channel Section 210.52(C)(3) has also been revised for the 2023 NEC, essentially to provide the following three options for where island and peninsula receptacle outlets can be installed (paraphrased): 1. On or above countertop or work surfaces, but no more than 20 inches above. 2. In a countertop using a receptacle outlet assembly listed for use in countertops. 3. In a work surface using a receptacle outlet assembly listed for use in work surfaces or listed for use in countertops. What can be noted as a major change in the 2023 NEC from the receptacle outlet location options for islands and peninsulas in 210.52(C)(3) of the 2020 NEC, is the ability to install receptacle outlets below countertops and work surfaces. Receptacle outlets for islands and peninsulas are no longer able to be installed below the countertop and work surface level. As part of its substantiation for the change, NEC Code Making Panel 2 cited Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data showing that between 1991 and 2020, an estimated 9,700 people, many of them children, were treated in United States emergency departments for burns and other injuries after pulling on or running into power cords plugged into receptacle outlets installed below island and peninsula work surfaces. Those who opposed the change, however, cited accessibility concerns. Because of this change, as well as other changes to 210.52(C)(2) and (C)(3), the 2023 NEC essentially provides three options for island and peninsula receptacle outlet installations, or non-installations, as depicted in the bullet points and photo below: · Option 1 permits the installation of receptacle outlets above the countertop or work surface, but not more than 20 inches above. Islands and peninsulas with elevated backsplashes present an opportunity for using this option. · Option 2 permits installation of receptacle outlets within the countertop or work surface, provided a receptacle outlet assembly listed for the application is utilized. · Option 3 is utilized when no receptacle outlet is installed within the island or peninsula. In that case, the 2023 NEC requires a future provision to be made where a receptacle outlet could be installed at a later date. The junction box with protective flexible conduit for the NM-B cable is just one example of how this could possibly be done, but it is not required to be done this way per the 2023 NEC. Change and the NEC are practically synonymous. But it is rare that we see such drastic changes in requirements within the same section of the NEC over such close cycles. Personally, I believe that these changes show how important it is for the public to get involved in the NFPA® standards development process. Whether you’re an individual with relevant data that you can provide or an electrician that has an idea of what should change, the safety that the NEC provides depends on your input. I encourage everyone to learn more about the standards development process to get involved.
Posted: January 18, 2023, 12:00 am
First draft of NFPA 1970 proposes changes to firefighter PPE standard and will be open for review and Public Comment through January 4, 2023
In my continuing effort to keep interested parties apprised of the latest standards activity related to firefighting gear and conversations about the presence of PFOAs, the first draft of the upcoming edition of NFPA 1970, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural and Proximity Firefighting, Work Apparel and Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services, and Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) has been posted online and is now available for review and Public Comment through January 4, 2023. One of the proposed changes within the draft includes the elimination of the light degradation resistance test on the moisture barrier layer of jackets. It will be replaced by a multi-environmental conditioning procedure (9.1.22) that will be applied to composite test samples before certain tests. Some of the additional changes in the NFPA 1971 portion (protective ensembles) of NFPA 1970 include: Added new requirements for manufacturer indication of “PFAS FREE” gear. (188.8.131.52 & 6.4.13) Added new requirements for acceptable levels of specific restricted substances and added a test method to determine the presence and quantity of specific restricted substances. (7.1.14, 7.4.9, 7.7.6, 7.10.10, 7.13.7, 8.20, & 9.83) The Correlating Committee recommended to consider adding similar requirements for SCBA in Chapter 17 of NFPA 1970 (NFPA 1981 portion). Added requirements to test for ease of cleaning. (8.1.29, 8.4.17, 8.7.26, 8.10.19, 8.13.12, & 9.81) Added requirements to test for effectiveness of cleaning. (8.2.7 & 9.82) Added requirements to test for liquid repellency and penetration resistance of persistent contaminants. (8.2.8 & 9.84) Added requirements to test for leaching of material substances. (8.2.9 & 9.85) It’s important to note that these proposed changes and additions reflect the recommendations of the Technical and Correlating Committee on Hazardous Substances in the NFPA 1970 First Draft Report. As I outlined in a previous blog, NFPA does not create or dictate the provisions within our codes and standards. NFPA is the neutral facilitator of the standards development process; each standard is developed by balanced voluntary technical committees. It is an open and transparent process in which anyone (except NFPA staff) can review and provide input and comment. I strongly encourage everyone who has opinions, perspectives, and insights on these proposed changes to make sure their voices are heard by the committee. Comments will be accepted through January 4, 2023. Anyone who believes the first draft of the standard should be changed to address these and other topics is strongly encouraged to submit proposed changes (public comment) to the next edition of the standard. You do not have to be an NFPA member or on an NFPA Technical Committee to provide comment and propose additional changes. 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. The deadline for Public Comment is January 4, 2023. In the following months, the Technical and Correlating Committees will consider all of the proposed changes received by the deadline and will develop a Second Draft of NFPA 1970. NFPA anticipates that the Second Draft Reports will be posted for public review in the Fall of 2023. Throughout the process, the latest information on this standard can be found at nfpa.org/1970next.
Posted: September 13, 2022, 12:00 am
High-stakes education refers to learning and development that results in attaining a credential. This credential may come in many forms, including: Traditional degrees and certificates from a higher education or professional institute (i.e., Masters, PHD, or Professional Certificate Programs, etc.) Professional licenses or qualifications that allow holders to perform specific tasks and/or roles (i.e., driver license, licensed electrician, or qualified electrical worker, etc.) Contemporary micro-credentials that signify an educational or performance achievement (i.e., digital badges that can be found on BADGR or Credly and shared online) Internal or external professional certification programs and designations with qualification requirements, rigorous examination, and continuing education and renewal requirements (i.e., NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialists, Scrum masters, Society of HR Management or Project Management Institute Certifications, etc.) Credentials can be used to prequalify candidates for jobs, projects, and promotions; bolster a company’s qualification for bidding on client projects; and in marketing campaigns to prove the company’s commitment to quality. Regulators and employers have also used credentials to set the baseline for competency to improve performance and safety. High-stakes education and credentials help ensure that facilities, fire protection and life safety systems, and work safety programs are well designed, managed, and maintained. This in turn keeps productivity disruption- and incident-free; lives and property safe; and operator and employer reputations free of citations, fines, and bad press. Here are five more reasons why high-stakes education are helpful within the NFPA Fire and Life safety Ecosystem™: Vigilance: Vigilance is the opposite of complacency, and complacency is the enemy of a safety culture. As workplaces and communities evolve, companies must be vigilant in their pursuit of best practices and emerging codes and standards related to safety. Training aligned with certifications developed by subject matter experts that require continuing education help to ensure that their people are getting the right training to pass a rigorous certification exam and maintaining that high bar through continuous professional development. Investing in people: The retirement of the baby boomer generation and the great resignation from the workforce have left many organizations with deep experience gaps. However, organizations can make up for some of this gap by investing in high-stakes education to consistently set and raise the baseline of knowledge and skills for less experienced professionals. An investment in high-stakes education is also an investment in the workforce, which leads to higher employee engagement, loyalty, and quality of their work. When organizations and individuals spend time and energy on high-stakes education, they become more invested in its outcome. There is a direct correlation between pride and performance for having achieved a credential through high-stakes education. Raising the bar: Employers do not want to suffer financially and reputationally for avoidable incidents. Clients do not want disruptions or rework caused by failed inspections. Code enforcers do not want to waste limited resources and time reviewing recurring non-compliant designs and installations. Credentials earned through high-stakes education and certification help skilled professionals to stand out among their competition and provide peace of mind to key stakeholders. Companies investing in high-stakes education for their workforce are signaling to internal and external stakeholders that safety is part of their brand promise and that they intend to get the work done right the first time. Compliance: Regulators demand formal training as part of safety programs. High-stakes education signals to regulators that the organization is serious about its compliance with regulatory requirements. While organizations should always complement external programs with internal education on policies and procedures, externally managed credential and high-stakes education help to alleviate internal resources for program development, maintenance, and management. Safety culture – Credentials that have regular recertification or renewal periods and continuing education requirements help to keep workforce knowledge and skills relevant. Professionals who maintain their credentials are keeping up with emerging issues, changes in codes and standards, and the latest best practices in their respective fields. These requirements promote ongoing learning and curiosity as part of an effective safety culture in today’s disruptive environment. Competent and skilled professionals are critical for any business providing services or operating with fire, life, and electrical hazards. By incorporating high-stakes education into the workforce safety curriculum, an organization is investing in its people, results, and future. Find out more on how NFPA training and certifications can deliver high-stakes education to your business and workforce.
Posted: June 21, 2022, 12:00 am
2021 “Ecosystem Year in Review Report” Highlights Successes and Tragedies and Resources Needed to Help Improve Global Community Safety
Fire and life safety deaths, injuries, and losses may be unexpected, but they do not happen by chance, according to the newly published 2021 Ecosystem Year in Review report by the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute. The year 2021, says the report, was one of modest improvements and tragic setbacks that included massive wildfires, a fatal collapse of an elevated subway rail, and a hospital fire that all highlight how gaps in our global fire and life safety system can lead to tragedies. These and other examples illustrated in the seven-page report are the product of weaknesses in a community’s Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, a framework NFPA developed in 2018 that identifies the components that must work together to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, life, electrical, and other hazards. A lack of attention to any one of these elements results in greater risks and can create a significant safety threat. If just one element breaks down, people can be hurt. The Ecosystem is a key to understanding how decisions made over time can either exacerbate or control threats to safety. There are many steps to improving safety and more work to be done. But the key to reducing losses in the years to come is starting now to make these changes. Download the report to learn more. This year, the report is also available in Spanish and for the first time since the report’s inception, fire and life safety advocates can read the report in Arabic. Find additional resources and information about the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem on our webpage.
Posted: June 16, 2022, 12:00 am
During Hurricane Season, NFPA Natural Disaster Electrical Equipment Checklist Helps Electricians Assess Whether to Repair or Replace Electrical Systems Damaged in a Storm
June marks the start of hurricane season bringing with it strong and damaging storms that will impact many parts of the U.S. As such, building owners and managers of industrial and commercial facilities in these areas could find themselves working through the daunting process of disaster recovery once the initial danger has passed. When electrical systems are damaged in a natural or man-made disaster, electricians need to make a critical decision about whether the electrical equipment that was damaged can be salvaged or not. NFPA has created a checklist for electricians to help highlight and simplify key aspects of this decision-making process. The checklist builds off of recommendations in Chapter 32 of NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance (2019 edition), and includes: A list of disaster scenarios, which can inflict damage of varying degrees to facilities Steps for assessing equipment A priority assessment table Steps to help identify factors for replacement or repair The choice between repair and replace will not always be easy but following these simple suggestions can help make the difference between an impossible task and an informed decision. Download the free “Natural Disaster Electrical Equipment Checklist” and review the information. Having this information at your fingertips will be extremely valuable should your community call on you for your electrical experience and assistance in the aftermath of a storm or other weather-related event. Need additional information? NFPA 70B is now available in NFPA LiNK™, the association’s information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more at nfpa.org/LiNK.
Posted: June 1, 2022, 12:00 am
When constructing a new building it is imperative architects, engineers, contractors, and owners follow the most current codes and standards to provide what is considered the current minimum level of safety for a building. This minimum level of safety is established most often by consensus codes and standards which have been adopted by the jurisdiction where the building is being constructed. These codes and standards are constantly evolving, adapting to new technology and addressing gaps in safety. But what about existing buildings? Do they need to be brought up to the adopted code? The answer is often complicated and depends on the local codes in place as well as the type of occupancy. An example of this complexity occurs when you examine requirements for existing buildings in NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code as compared to NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. Both codes define an existing building as “A building erected or officially authorized prior to the effective date of the adoption of this edition of the Code by the agency or jurisdiction” however, the two codes treat them very differently. Looking in Chapter 1 of both codes the scope and purpose statements provide direction as to where codes apply and their overall intent. NFPA 5000 would not apply to existing buildings unless they undergo a change in use, some level of building rehabilitation, an addition or if the building is relocated or damaged. NFPA 101 has no such clause and applies to both new and existing buildings. Thus, where NFPA 5000 focuses on the design and construction of new buildings, NFPA 101 applies to both new and existing buildings with a focus on safety during the entire lifecycle of the building not just the initial design and construction. Under NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, buildings which have “been officially authorized” meaning they were designed and permitted in accordance with earlier editions of the building code, can remain in their original state. If they undergo the items mentioned earlier, they would be required to comply with the most current version of the building code. For example, the 2021 edition of NFPA 5000 requires all newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings to be protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system. This was first introduced in the 2006 edition; and earlier editions did not contain this requirement. In areas were NFPA 5000 is adopted, existing homes authorized for use prior to the adoption of the 2006 edition are not required to be retrofitted with automatic fire sprinkler systems. This concept of “officially authorized” or existing buildings, is one of the reasons we continue to see fires with a significant number of injuries and deaths. It’s not that the current level of safety expected in new buildings isn’t enough, it’s that the vast majority of the buildings in the U.S. and many other countries around the world were constructed under what was considered the minimum level of safety at the time. That level of safety has evolved but requiring all buildings to be retroactively improved to meet the current codes and standards may be costly and could impose a significant hardship on building owners. However, there are times where the risk will outweigh cost, for example, anywhere the 2021 edition of NFPA 101 has been adopted. In these jurisdictions, an automatic fire sprinkler system is required in all nursing homes, both new and existing, with very few exceptions. The code development process determined the risk to the occupants of these facilities is significant enough that providing automatic fire sprinklers in nursing home facilities is required to meet what is now considered the minimum level of safety for both new and existing buildings. As you can see, the answer to the question of whether an existing building must be improved to meet what is now considered the minimum level of safety can be found in that jurisdictions adopted code. The adopted code is often a suite of different codes and standards, which may include, building, fire, and life safety codes. It is important that these codes work together to set the minimum level of safety for all buildings in the jurisdiction. For more information on the importance of how code development and adoption improve safety while balancing risk check out the NFPA Fire And Life Safety Ecosystem.
Posted: May 27, 2022, 12:00 am
This spring, as we continued celebrating ANSI’s belated 2021 World Standards Week and gear up for further 2022 celebrations in October, we are reflecting on the history of how our codes and standards came to be and how they continue to evolve in our digital world. With over 125 years under our belt at NFPA, we have evolved the way we disseminate codes and standards. From our nineteenth century start to 2022 where we are leading the industry with an accessible, digital codes and standards platform, I would argue our organization has always been at the forefront of innovation. But where did we start? And why is joining the digital transformation valuable? Keep reading to learn more about where we were and where we are going. March 1896 – After a group of organization leaders representing sprinkler and fire insurance interests noticed inconsistencies in the installation of sprinkler devices, the group came together to create a set of sprinkler installation rules titled “Report of Committee on Automatic Sprinkler Protection.” That set of rules is now known as NFPA 13, “Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.” November 1896 – After the first standard was declared in March 1896, a subsequent meeting was held where articles for a new association were created. Thus, the National Fire Protection Association was born. From there, the organization began introducing new members and standards for different devices. This core group committed themselves to building an organization that’s devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. As codes and standards became, and continues to be, the backbone of what NFPA does, the organization became the leading information and knowledge resource on fire, electrical and related hazards. Throughout the 1900s – Organizations in the stock fire insurance, fire departments, and sprinkler manufacturing and installation fields became members of NFPA and vowed to live by the standards set forth to reduce the burden of fire and related hazards. These codes and standards united multiple organizations to begin working with safety at the forefront of their daily operations. Since then, NFPA has continuously worked with the brightest minds to create standards that provide safety professionals with the guidelines needed to do their jobs safely and efficiently. Over the years, this organization has developed dozens of physical book editions, constantly publishing the newest information for our standards. As the years went on, NFPA sought out ways to ensure the information in these books were actively being optimized to share the latest information in the most accessible format. Redefining standards in a digital landscape September 2020 - NFPA is now redefining what it means to work together and access the codes and standards that have been crafted over the years. As part of a commitment to always provide our stakeholders with the best fire and life safety information and knowledge, NFPA’s next step was to modernize the way our codes and standards are accessed. While our world is evolving to welcome more digital accessibility, codes and standards are one of the best ways to unify our industry and join the digital transformation journey so many professions are experiencing. With NFPA LiNK®, a digital platform where users can easily access all the current NFPA codes and standards they need from their favorite electronic device, NFPA is redefining how we use and access these documents every day. As the pioneers in our industry, NFPA is at the forefront of digitizing our industry while continuing to deliver the guidance that make our world safer. Learn more about how your team can join the digital transformation at nfpa.org/link.
Posted: May 24, 2022, 12:00 am
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
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. Buybox:Title:Featured training|OLS1322SPR
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