NFPA NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates Blogs
Latest NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates posts from NFPA blogs
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
NFPA is now offering digital badges to help stakeholders promote their professional achievements. Learners will earn a digital badge upon successful completion of select NFPA online learning and be able to share their badge(s) on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest or add a link to email signatures, resumes, and HTML cards. In short, digital badges demonstrate competency in a visual, shareable way. They verify that someone has successfully developed a certain skill or met an educational requirement that adds value for their current role or career aspirations. In recent years, the popularity of digital badging has grown significantly among students, professionals and practitioners. Employers looking to identify viable candidates and retain existing talent by offering opportunities for staff to upskill and potentially fill new openings are also embracing badging. To help those that take NFPA training project a competitive edge, three badge levels have been created, including: A Bronze Badge (Awareness) that demonstrates successful completion of a learning program and fundamental knowledge of facts and ideas A Silver Badge (Knowledge) that shows successful completion of a learning program and application of acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules A Gold Badge (Analysis) that emphasizes successful completion of a learning program and the ability to analyze content, present opinions or make judgements about the information based on a set of criteria Four NFPA online training courses currently offer badging with two more to be added soon: Swinging Fire Door Inspection 2021 NFPA 3000: Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response 2019 NFPA 241: Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations Construction Site Fire Safety Fundamentals Fire and Life Safety Operator (coming late 2020) Fire Prevention Program Manager (coming February 2021) NFPA is using Badgr to make digital badges available. After successfully completing one of the online courses identified above, a badge will appear immediately in the learner’s NFPA Training Portal and will be available via Badgr.com within 24-48 hours of earning the credential. Registration for a free Badgr account is required to access all digital badge functionality, including validation and sharing capabilities. Not familiar with digital badging? In the early 2000s, big names like Microsoft Xbox 360, social media site FourScore and even the Boy Scouts began using online badging to engage audiences, according to Chief Learning Officer. In the years since, higher-education institutions and forward-thinking organizations have offered and welcomed the informative icons because they help to tell the story of work experiences and learning achievements in a way that is more dynamic, detailed, and portable. NFPA training and education continues to be regarded as the gold standard for fire, electrical, building and life safety learning; and recently introduced a wide array of new online learning, live virtual training, and Certification Learning Paths to meet the demands of today’s busy, tech-savvy workforce.
Posted: November 17, 2020, 12:00 am
An outdated and stained floor covering requires update and replacement, a new office tenant requests a reconfigured office space, a new commercial stove and oven is needed for a cafeteria, or a hotel guest room is converted into extra storage space. Buildings are always undergoing work to maintain their systems and features in good working conditions, and to reconfigure and upgrade their space. So, when work is being done to a building, how does the Life Safety Code apply? Prior to 2006, editions of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, required all modernizations, renovations, additions, and changes of occupancy, to the extent practicable, to comply with the requirements for new construction. Often, however, building rehabilitation is not undertaken because of the perception that unwanted or unwarranted upgrades will be forced on the building owner. Chapter 43, added in 2006, was written to encourage the adaptive reuse of compliant, existing structures. The former philosophy of “that which you do must meet new” is relaxed. Now, with the detailed provisions contained in Chapter 43, only those requirements necessary to achieve the intended level of life safety are mandated in lieu of requiring strict compliance with the requirements applicable to new buildings. Chapter 43 presents provisions based on a set of concepts including the following: During a rehabilitation project, a building must meet the base level of life safety required by the Code chapter applicable to the existing occupancy. The rehabilitation work must maintain or increase the level of Code compliance. Rehabilitation work in existing construction elements or building features is held to a lower standard than rehabilitation work in new elements or features. Upgrades are typically required only in the rehabilitation work areas, not throughout the entire occupancy or building. What if my building requires corrective actions as a result of a Code deficiency? Let's say you are planning to renovate an entire tenant space to in your existing office building. However, it is determined that your existing office building exceeds the maximum allowable travel distance. The provisions of Chapter 43 are to be used once the existing building is brought into compliance with the appropriate occupancy chapter requirements applicable to that existing occupancy. Work done to correct a deficiency is not subject to the provisions of Chapter 43. Once your existing office building is compliant the additional planned work to the tenant space will use Chapter 43 to determine the provisions that apply to that work. Your existing office building undergoing the renovation is held, as a starting point, to the same requirements that apply to any other existing business occupancy building. Some of the occupancy chapters have requirements that supplement those of Chapter 43 and impose the requirements for new construction on existing buildings that are being rehabilitated, including those situations in which the use is changed to increase the occupant load. For example, mercantile occupancies are further subclassified as a Class A, Class B, or Class C mercantile occupancy, based on the floor area used for sales purposes. After determining that Chapter 43 applies to the work in my building, what determines compliance with new or existing requirements? Establishing a level of Code compliance uses a stepped approach to mandate requirements. Minor levels of rehabilitation must meet minimal requirements; major rehabilitation projects must meet more significant requirements. Chapter 43 defines seven categories of rehabilitation work: repair, renovation, modification, reconstruction, change of use, change of occupancy and addition. Understanding and properly defining these seven categories are a key concept of this chapter for achieving the objective of proportionality of work. That is, the more work that is proposed for the rehabilitation project, the more work that might be required by the Code in terms of upgrading existing conditions. Incorrectly defining the category/categories of work on a rehabilitation project can result in over- or under-applying critical fire and life safety requirements from the Code to your building. Identifying the category of work being performed will then determine the extent to which the Code is applied to that work. Any building undergoing rehabilitation will comply with the requirements of the applicable existing occupancy chapter plus any additional requirements for the applicable new occupancy as called out specifically in Chapter 43. For example, a simple repair, such as replacing a few ceiling tiles in an office that were damaged due to a water leak, would be required to use like materials and result in an installation no less conforming than it was prior to the repair (existing). Reconstruction work, such as gutting an entire floor in an existing hotel building to create hotel guest suites from individual guest rooms individual guest rooms, requires a more extensive and detailed application of Code requirements for the work being performed. Among other requirements, newly constructed elements, components, and systems are required to comply with the requirements of other Code sections applicable to new construction. What are some other considerations when applying Chapter 43 to a rehabilitation project? Chapter 43, with the exception of the provisions for reconstruction, does not mandate improvements or set minimum acceptable standards for spaces that are not undergoing rehabilitation. Incidental work in other areas of the building may be required depending on the extent of the work (for example, extending a fire alarm system may require upgrades to the fire alarm panel that are outside the original rehabilitation work area but are necessary as part of the project.) A single work project may have more than one rehabilitation work category (for example, a reconstruction may also result in a change of occupancy) The provisions of Chapter 43 should not prevent the use of equivalent designs, systems or approaches if deemed acceptable by the AHJ. Work mandated by any accessibility, property, housing, or fire code; mandated by the existing building requirements of this Code; or mandated by any licensing rule or ordinance, are not required to conform to Chapter 43. Construction, alteration and demolition operations that may accompany rehabilitation projects must comply with the provisions for NFPA 241. Both new and existing occupancy chapters now contain pointers back to NFPA 241 for this work. Interested in learning more about the specifics of rehabilitation work categories and compliance options for applying the building rehabilitation requirements in NFPA 101 to real world examples? This December we will be offering a 2-hour virtual, live training on this topic! Be on the lookout in the NFPA catalog at www.nfpa.org/catalog soon for more details and registration information. And finally, if you found this article helpful, subscribe to the NFPA Network Newsletter for monthly, personalized content related to the world of fire, electrical, and building & life safety. Thanks for reading, stay safe!
Posted: October 16, 2020, 12:00 am
With industries still adapting to the demands of COVID-19 and the typical, ongoing backlog in ITM (inspection, testing and maintenance), RVI continues to cause quite the buzz. Health Facilities Management magazine featured the technology as the cover story in their recent issue, including insights from Jonathan Hart, an NFPA tech lead for building and life safety and from Kevin Carr, the staff liaison for NFPA's proposed standard on remote inspections. Up until the pandemic hit, RVI was not widely employed, but the technology offers a range of benefits that are hard to ignore for those charged with facility inspections and maintenance. Whether it is gaining access during a pandemic when buildings may be shut down or operating at reduced capacity, assisting AHJs that have fewer staff members, or for those authorities that are using drones to examine large buildings with cumbersome exteriors—remote inspections are increasingly becoming an attractive option. Despite its appeal to many, RVI can have issues such as performance impacts by lighting or internet service, inconsistent use methods, and (in the case of the HFM article), healthcare privacy. To use RVI effectively, the article emphasizes the guidance that NFPA has generated to date: gain AHJ pre-approval develop policies to share with key stakeholders communicate results with all parties in a timely manner Meanwhile, NFPA 915, Standard for Remote Inspections (proposed standard), a document that covers requirements for various types of remote inspections, recently opened for Public Input (PI) and will accept proposed revisions until June 1, 2021. “This is an important phase of the NFPA standards development process where any member of the public can submit a change to the most recent draft or edition of the standard,” says Kevin Carr, staff liaison, NFPA 915. “The technical committee will then meet after the Public Input Closing Date (PICD) to begin reviewing this input.” NFPA 915 was supposed to go before the Standards Council later this year but instead was considered in August. The guidance is expected to be published as an adoptable standard in late 2023. Interested parties can review NFPA 915, see meeting schedules, submit a public input, and sign up for alerts pertaining to the document at nfpa.org/915. Be sure to see the news section on this page for recent, related RVI content.
Posted: September 17, 2020, 12:00 am
Yesterday morning, an explosion, most likely involving natural gas, ripped through three rowhouses in northwest Baltimore, leaving two dead and seven more transported to hospitals. The blast occurred on the 4-year anniversary of another Maryland natural gas explosion, which killed seven and injured nearly ten times as many in the city of Silver Springs in 2016. While the cause of this recent explosion remains under investigation, the damages sustained in the Baltimore incident are reminiscent of similar fuel gas explosions we've seen in recent years in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts in 2018 and Farmington, Maine last September. Fuel gases include natural gas, manufactured gas, liquefied petroleum (LP) gas (typically propane & butane), or mixtures of these gases that are distributed commercially and used in gas appliances for cooking and heating. There are several different codes, standards, and regulations here in the U.S that govern the safe use of fuel gas systems. The codes, standards, and regulations apply to both the fuel gas being used and those responsible for each part of the system. For natural gas systems, the utility company (in this case Baltimore Gas and Electric) is responsible for the transmission lines and piping up to the service meter at the customer's house. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulate gas utilities and jurisdictional requirements are listed under Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Responsibility for gas from the outlet of the service meter to the appropriate gas appliance lies with the customer and is addressed within NFPA 54 National Fuel Gas Code. NFPA research found that an estimated 4,200 home structure fires per year were started with the ignition of natural gas and caused an average of 40 deaths. Looking back at recent incidents, we know that the Merrimack Valley fire and explosions was caused by an over-pressurization in the utility gas transmission lines which caused damage to customer-owned equipment. One person was killed, dozens of explosions and fires damaged more than 40 homes, and 30,000 residents and business owners were forced to evacuate. In the case of the LEAP Building explosion in Maine, gas piping outside the home was punctured by a drilling operation that caused gas to migrate into the basement of the building. That incident killed one firefighter, injured others and destroyed a non-profit building. Combustion requires three things - fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source. In the case of natural gas explosions, the leaking gas is the fuel. Ambient air serves as the oxygen, which in the right proportion with the fuel, forms an ignitable mixture. The last part of the triangle is an ignition source to spark the vapor/air mixture. When gas enters an occupancy (either from the outside or from an appliance leak within the home), simple gestures like turning on the stove or switching on a light switch can serve as the ignition source. Both natural gas and LP-Gas are colorless and odorless, which makes detecting a leak difficult. When fuel gases are used for consumer application, they are treated with an odorant that emits a distinct smell and helps to alert parties nearby that a leak has occurred. Despite odorization efforts, odor fades and not everyone can detect odor readily. Based on incidents like yesterday, various parties have asked for the development and installation of gas detection devices for residential applications. NFPA 715, Standard for the Installation of Fuel Gases Detection and Warning Equipment is in the early developmental stages prior to beginning full public review. NFPA 715 addresses recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) investigation following the Silver Springs explosion; it will cover the selection, design, application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fuel gas detection and warning equipment in buildings and structures. The Standards Council decided to begin the full NFPA 715 revision process and invites stakeholders to submit public inputs at this point. Additionally, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, will soon complete a report on combustible gas detector (CGD) placement that looks to use modeling work to justify requirements in NFPA 715 for the best location of CGD in order to ensure early and accurate detection of leaks. The incident in Baltimore and the other events I have noted above underscore the need for sharing and understanding simple gas leak safety measures. Here are some that come to mind: Prior to any construction work, be sure to contact Dig Safe or similar local authorities to prevent accidental damage to buried underground piping as digging is a frequent cause of damage to the main line before the meter. If you smell gas – typically a rotten egg smell due to the mercaptan odorant - leave the area or building immediately. Avoid possible ignition sources such as matches and lighters, light switches, flashlights, telephones, cell phones and other communication devices if you do smell that rotten egg smell. Do not start a car or ring doorbells either. Get to a safe area and call 911 to report a gas leak. Then follow the instructions of any on-site emergency responders or utility employees, as they respond to the leak. For more information on NFPA 54 or the proposed NFPA 715, visit nfpa.org.
Posted: August 11, 2020, 12:00 am