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Kathie Robinson
Manager, Editorial Operations, NFPA Journal
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Last August, a Texas man swimming a in Houston-area hotel pool noticed a child in distress in the deep end. He swam to the child and helped him safely out ot the water but could not get out of the pool on his own. When rescuers pulled him out, he went into cardiac arrest and died six days later, a victim of electrocution. The City of Houston and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation determined that shoddy electrical work performed by licensed electricians resulted in the pool being electrically unsafe. That was not an isolated incident, says Jeff Sargent... Continue reading
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Paul Villotti a vice-president of FP&C Consultants, a fire protection engineering consulting firm, has been involved with hundreds of large assembly projects in his 28 years with the firm. One of them is the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. The stadium is scheduled to open in August. Planning a new stadium is a lot of work, as Villoti will tell you. “We looked at the design and did the basic building code review, and identified areas and design features that weren’t in compliance with the code, and began a... Continue reading
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Once upon a time, rescuing an animal from a desperate situation was a matter of judgment and luck. But that’s all changing, says Ryan McGinnis in his article “Rescue Me” in the latest issue of NFPA Journal. As of 2014, NFPA 1670, Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents, includes a new chapter detailing animal technical rescue designed to give first responders a better understanding of how to handle the risks posed by rescuing an animal in danger. Chapter 17 and Annex K of the 2014 edition of NFPA 1670 covers a wide range of material, from animal... Continue reading
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Everyone in the fire protection community knows that interior finishes can present serious fire safety issues, having contributed in the past to significant loss of life in a number of assembly occupancy fires, from the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire to last year’s Boate Kiss nightclub fire in Brazil. And some of today’s newer interior finishes, such as polypropylene and high-density polyethylene, present even more serious fire challenges if untreated. NFPA 101 , Life Safety Code®, has regulated interior finishes since the 1920s, when it was known as the Building Exits Code. According to NFPA 101, large-scale tests must be used... Continue reading
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Was it the first major terrorist attack on the United States by a foreign party? Some historians thinks so. In 1916, before the United States entered World War I, saboteurs loyal to Germany blew up more than two million pounds (907,185 kilograms) of ammunition stored at the Black Tom railroad yard in New Jersey to prevent it from being shiped overseas to Allied countries in Europe. Seven people died in the explosions, which lasted several hours and were felt as far as 90 miles (145 kilometers) away. For more on the story, read "Looking Back" in the May/June issue of... Continue reading
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A s we try to identify alternative energy sources, says Nick Barilo, a project manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, hydrogen-powered fuel cells have the potential to replace the internal combustion engine and provide power in a range of stationary and portable applications. Because its use as a fuel is still relatively new, however, the proper methods of handling, storage, and transportation of hydrogen are often not well understood by those who are affected by its use. One problem is that hydrogen is flammable in atmospheric conditions. When mixed with air, it can form a flammable mixture that is... Continue reading
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I t's new. It's exciting. It's NFPA 4! NFPA 4, Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing, originally started life as the integrated system testing portion of NFPA 3, Recommended Practice on Commissioning and Integrated Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems. However, the Technical Committee on Commissioning and Integrated Testing decided to remove it from NFPA 3 and create an entirely new document that can be used for both new and existing buildings. NFPA 4 is intended to make sure that buildings with integrated and interconnected systems, such as fire alarms, sprinkler systems, emergency communications systems, elevator... Continue reading
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What's new in the world of fire suppression and detection? Quite a lot, according to Kathleen Almand, NFPA's vice-president of Research and executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. And some of it was discussed at the March 2014 Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Research and Applications Conference, better known as SupDet. Among the changes in the detection arena, NIST, UL, and the Foundation are looking at ways to enhance the performance of smoke alarms in the presence of nuisance sources. And the detection industry has developed technology that allows a more selective response to smoke and flames. “On the... Continue reading
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"We’re called on to help everyone else—we aren’t the ones who should need the help." Or so the thinking of many first responders goes. But some emergency response personnel do need help, and many aren't getting it. According to Janet Wilmoth, author of the recent NFPA Journal article "Trouble in Mind," suicides among U.S. first responders have focused increased attention on behavioral health problems, such as alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affecting primarily firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. While data on the problem is scarce, she says, there are suggestions that such problems among... Continue reading
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Think your fire department is too big to use NFPA standards? Think again, says Ken Willette, division manager of NFPA's Public Fire Protection Division, in his column "Never Too Big" in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal. According to Willette, NFPA standards are now so ingrained in the daily operations of the nation’s fire service that many firefighters aren’t even aware of the role they play in their departments. For example, NFPA-compliant PPE and SCBA are now the norm. "So when people say NFPA standards don’t work for them," Willette says, "I reply, 'Check out the label on your PPE.'” Continue reading
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We all remember the headlines: "Bangladesh Factory Collapse Death Toll Reaches 1,024." "Scores Die as Factory for Clothing Stores Collapses." "It Crumbles Like a Pack of Cards." Last year's collapse of a clothing factory at the Rana Plaza on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, sparked international outrage. How many more people would have to die before the country took meaningful steps toward workplace safety? In fact, those steps had already begun, says Randolph W. Tucker, associate principal for fire protection/life safety for ccrd, a Houston-based engineering firm with more than 30 years' experience in healthcare, science and... Continue reading
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If you're going to build something in Vegas, it's got to be amazing, and it is. The brand new High Roller, an observation wheel—read Ferris wheel—built by Caesars Entertainment to anchor The Linq, a new $550 million open-air pedestrian mall on the Strip, is not just any giant wheel. At 550 feet (168 meters), it’s the world’s tallest, with 28 enclosed cabins, each holding 40 guests, that turns at a pace of just under 1 foot (0.3 meters) per second, or about 30 minutes for a complete revolution. A ride on the wheel is quite an experience. But is it... Continue reading
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In North Carolina, a 36-year-old man and his two daughters, ages 4 and 6, died in a fire that investigators believe started when a charcoal grill on the wooden deck of their home ignited decking material during the night. In Ohio, a 78-year-old woman died of burns she received when her pajama sleeve caught fire as she cooked breakfast for her husband. And in Connecticut, a 43-year-old man died of smoke inhalation in a fire he intentionally set by igniting books and magazines in his apartment. But the news wasn't all bad. In Arizona, firefighters extinguished a small fire burning... Continue reading
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According to Matt Klaus, designing suppression systems is often as simple as turning to NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems. But NFPA 13 may be only one of several NFPA codes and standards you need to review when dealing with industrial facilities, where the required suppression system may encompass special features and design requirements. In addition to NFPA 13, you may have to consult NFPA 15, Water Spray Fixed Systems for Fire Protection, for example, or NFPA 16, Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler and Foam-Water Spray Systems, or NFPA 2001, Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems. Relying solely on NFPA 13 can... Continue reading
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Where do safety codes, particularly the NEC®, fit into the movement toward cleaner, greener, more reliable energy? A revision to a 2014 NEC requirement on lighting load calculations is a great example of how energy and safety codes can be made compatible when the right balance of interests is struck, says Jeffrey Sargent in his new column “Common Interests” in the latest issue of NFPA Journal. Since the 1970s, proposals have been made to amend the NEC load requirements so that they align more closely with energy code requirements. However, members of the code-making panel were reluctant to accept these... Continue reading
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Most building occupants are trained to evacuate as soon as fire alarm system activates. In some industrial occupancies, however, that might not be feasible, says Ron Coté in his new column “First Things First” in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal. Fortunately, NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, provides requirements for protecting such personnel and helping ensure that, when they are ready to leave the building, a safe route will be available. Such requirements demonstrate a feature of NFPA 101 that makes it so effective: its occupancy-based format. Each occupancy chapter of NFPA 101 recognizes the characteristics of the occupants and... Continue reading
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NFPA Journal columnist Wayne Moore was interested in a recent post on one of NFPA’s LinkedIn pages that asked how far smoke detectors should be installed from fluorescent light fixtures, presumably to avoid electromagnetic interference. Commenters could give no concrete answers except to confirm that the 2013 edition of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, did not contain an answer, either. So where, Wayne asks in his column “Proximity Question,” does one look for help? How about installation manuals and manufacturers instructions? Many installation manuals tell installers to segregate fire alarm system circuits from other circuits to minimize... Continue reading
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Here we go again. In a repeat of last year, says Don Bliss, NFPA vice-president of Regional Operations, some state legislatures are considering bills that would limit code-adoption and -revision cycles to a minimum of every six years. Proponents argue that the existing code cycles create unnecessary costs for home builders and consumers. They also say that a six-year cycle would reduce the cost of code update training for inspectors, design professionals, and facility operators. Opponents of the six-year cycle argue that it will delay the inclusion in the codes of many new scientific research findings and that “skipping” an... Continue reading
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NFPA Journal welcomes Lucien Deaton, new manager the Firewise Communities and Fire Adapted Communities Programs for NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division. Lucien comes to NFPA after eight years with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the last three of which he spent developing the national model of the Ready, Set, Go! Program created by California’s Ventura County Fire Department and Orange County Fire Authority to connect firefighters with the residents they serve on wildfire preparedness outreach. Among the things he learned working on the Ready, Set, Go! Program—and that he's bringing to his new position—is that wildfire preparedness programs must... Continue reading
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The technical committee responsible for NFPA 32, Dry Cleaning Plants, is currently revising the standard to address the new technology and solvents now in use in the industry. The 2016 edition of the standard will distinguish the different types of equipment and solvents and will consolidate the requirements for older dry cleaning machinery into a single chapter to better differentiate between the stricter requirements needed for older technology. For more on the subject, read Nancy Pearce's article, "Hold the Starch," in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal. Continue reading
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A member of the NFPA 921 Technical Committee on Fire Investigations since the release of the first edition of NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations, Randy Watson has used the guide in investigating approximately 3,000 fires. In the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, he talks about the evolution of NFPA 921 into a standard that is used worldwide to conduct fire investigations in a scientific manner. Read the entire interview in "Guided by Science." Continue reading
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"This is not a drill.” It was, in fact, a fire that had broken out on July 29, 1967, on the flight deck of the USS Forrestal, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) off the coast of North Vietnam. The fire started when an armed rocket accidentally launched from a F-4 Phantom fighter, hitting another jet waiting to take off. Fuel began leaking from the damaged plane’s fuel tank, which erupted in flames at 10:52 a.m. Although the fire on the flight deck was extinguished by 12:15 p.m., fires continued to... Continue reading
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Is today's first responder drowning in data? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has asked the Fire Protection Research Foundation to develop a research roadmap to answer this question. The project will identify knowledge gaps that affect the technologies that gather data, the knowledge base and algorithms that convert data into meaningful knowledge and decision-making tools, the methods of communicating the information to those who need it, and more. The project is part of a larger NIST initiative to harness what it calls "cyber physical systems," in which networked systems interact with the real world. For more on... Continue reading
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Lower costs! That mantra applies to almost every facet of the health care industry today, including the systems that exist to provide life safety and property protection. But careful analysis and coordination of testing and maintenance can ensure the protection provided by these systems remains cost effective, too. To find out how, read Wayne Moore's column "Cost Challenges" in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal. Continue reading
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NFPA's principal life satey engineer Ron Cote notes that a proposed change to NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, which would nearly double the allowable size of smoke compartments in hospitals, is generating a lot of interest in the health care community. To find out why this issue could spur a spirited debate at the NFPA technical session this coming June, read Ron's article "Size Issue" in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal. Continue reading