Fire truck responding to a call
FEATURED ARTICLE

Research shows progress and problems since "America Burning"

"The striking aspect of the Nation’s fire problem is the indifference with which Americans confront the subject. Destructive fire takes a huge toll in lives, injuries, and property losses, yet there is no need to accept those losses with resignation. There are many measures--often very simple precautions-that can be taken to reduce those losses significantly.” Nearly 50 years ago, these salient words were reflected in the opening pages of America Burning, the historic report written in 1973 and revisited in 1980. Over the decades since the landmark account was published, I have heard countless people cite America Burning findings, point to the recommendations within, and talk about what the findings did for fire protection, fire prevention, and responder safety. I whole-heartedly agree that America Burning was a groundbreaking tool in our arsenal and yet, today, in arguably the most advanced nation in the world – nearly 3,000 people still succumb to house fires, not to mention in other occupancies. On the same page of that report, the authors wrote, “These statistics are impressive in their size, though perhaps not scary enough to jar the average American from his confidence that “It will never happen to me.” And therein lies the problem. Complacency. It’s a killer of people, of property, of perspective, and of progress. But as has often been said, knowledge is power. NFPA has spent the last 125 years, believing this tenet to be true and furthering understanding in the interest of safety. Our vision of eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards is not merely a cliché, it is at the core of everything we do, everything that the America Burning report touched on back in the 70s and 80s, and served as the impetus for a new seminal report from NFPA and the Fire Protection Research Foundation, our research affiliate. The Fire in the United States Since 1980, Through the Lens of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem Report shows the progress we have achieved in reducing loss in certain structures; the strides we’ve made with fire protection technologies such as smoke alarms and sprinklers; the success that we have achieved through public education; and the positive effect that mandated codes and standards have played in altering the fire experience in our country. Today, we rarely see people perish in healthcare settings or hotels. Children are less likely to die from playing with fire. Fires in apartment buildings and hi-rise buildings have decreased. Our schools and the children, educators, and staff that occupy them are significantly safer. These are all positives that, in many ways, point to the components of the Ecosystem that we have been talking about for three years now. Yes, at NFPA, we look at safety through the lens of the Ecosystem – not because we developed this framework a few years back but - because after more than a century of championing safety, two America Burning studies and this new research from NFPA – it is abundantly clear that fire safety requires a holistic, purposeful approach, and unwavering accountability. That holistic, purposeful approach and unwavering accountability is what it’s going to take for us to move the needle on the most pressing fire safety issues of today. The new research reminds us: We need all the elements of the Ecosystem working together on Community Risk Reduction (CRR) strategies so that we can decrease the number of elderly dying in home fires. With roughly one of every three fatal home fire victims being 65 or older, more research and resources are needed to protect our most vulnerable citizens. That’s why our Data, Analytics and Research team and the Research Foundation work to inform our Remembering When program which educates communities on older adult fire and fall prevention. States with higher fire death rates have larger percentages of people who have a disability; have incomes below the poverty line; live in rural areas; or are populated by African Americans, Blacks, Native Americans, or Alaskan Natives. There is more work to do to reach those at greatest risk. We must stem the trend of wildfire-caused human and property losses. Wildfire is becoming the dominant type of fire that causes catastrophic multiple deaths and property destruction in our country. In fact, 7 of the 10 costliest fires in the US were fires in the wildland/urban interface. We launched our new Outthink Wildfire™ policy campaign to advocate change around where and how we build and to bring together policy-makers, the fire service, and the public to work with all elements of the Ecosystem, so that we can redraft history and change the narrative. “Each one of us must become aware – not for a single time, but for all the year – of what he or she can do to prevent fires,” President Richard Nixon said in 1972. (The quote can be heard in the latest NFPA Learn Something New video about the new research.)   I urge you to use the knowledge in this new report to power your fire prevention and protection steps so, together, we can rewrite history.

NFPA Today

Items on a desk

Fire Protection Research Foundation 2021 Semi-Annual Activity Summary

Have you missed what’s been going on at the Fire Protection Research Foundation? Learn about our new projects on Alarm Technologies for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population, Phase II of Oxygen Reduction Systems for Warehouse Storage Applications, the Economic Impact of Fire Protection and more. Catch up on our nine recently completed research reports and project summaries ranging from the FF Breathing Air Replenishment Systems Report to workshop proceedings on preparing for disasters and advancing WUI resiliency. If you missed out on any of several articles on exciting FPRF projects, please check out the podcast on Cybersecurity in Building Systems, watch the Learn Something New video about what you may not know about carbon monoxide poisoning and alarms, or catch up on one of our past five webinars on building, life safety and suppression topics. Upcoming events include a webinar on Traditional and Particulate-Blocking Hoods on August 4th, 12:30-2pm, and the SUPDET/AUBE conference to be held September 21-23 in Germany which provides updates on the latest research and applications for suppression (i.e. ”SUP”) and detection (i.e.“DET”) systems. (In person and virtual attendance options are available). For the complete list of current FPRF projects, visit here. The latest information and knowledge from the Foundation is provided here, at a glance: 2021 Q1 & Q2 Completed Projects New Projects initiated in 2021 Variables impacting the probability and severity of Dust Explosions in Dust Collectors Carbon Monoxide Detection and Alarm Requirements Public Safety sUAS Compliance Training Workshop Proceedings NFPA 1700, Guide for Structural Fire Fighting Online Training Preparing for Disaster: Workshop on Advancing WUI Resilience Analysis of Firefighting Breathing Air Replenishment Systems Fireground Exposures of Firefighters: A Literature Review Fire Safety in the US since 1980 (Advisory Service) ITM Data Exchange Workshop Proceedings   Impact of Medications on Older Adult Fall and Fire Risk - Remembering When Revisited Oxygen Reduction Systems for Warehouse Storage Applications- Phase II Review of Alarm Technologies for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population CaReDeX: Enabling Disaster Resilience in Aging Communities via a Secure Data Exchange Static Electricity Incident Review Fires in Animal Housing Facilities Economic Impact of Fire Protection   Featured publications from 2021 Q1 & Q2 (representative sample) NFPA Journal – Disrupting the Flow on FPRF “Impact of Obstructions on ESFR Sprinklers” research program. NFPA Journal – Building Cybersecurity “Weak Spots” on FPRF “Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems” project. NFPA Journal – A Better Fit on “Female Firefighter PPE” project with Florida State University. NFPA Journal – General Negligence on FPRF “Carbon Monoxide Detection and Alarm Requirements” project. NFPA Journal Column – Green Questions on FPRF “Fire Safety Challenges of Green Buildings” project. Fire Technology – Fire Hazard Analysis of Modern Vehicles in Parking Facilities. SFPE Fire Protection Engineering Magazine – Modern Vehicle Fire Hazards. Safety Science – The simulation of wildland-urban interface fire evacuation: The WUI-NITY platform. UK Fire Magazine – Evidence-based recommendations for structural firefighting now available in NFPA 1700. International Fire Protection – on “Modern Vehicle Hazards in Parking Garages” research. Healthcare Facility Management (HFM) – “Cybersecurity and Fire Protection – Is your system a pathway for internet attacks?” NFPA Journal – A New Approach to ITM on FPRF “ITM Data Exchange” research project. NFPA Journal – Happy Camper? on FPRF “Damage and Loss Assessment of Recreational Vehicles” report. NFPA Journal ‘In Compliance’ – Protecting against the ‘Silent Killer’: Carbon Monoxide Requirements in the Life Safety Code on FPRF “CO Detection and Alarm Requirements: Literature Review” study. NFPA Journal – Battered Batteries on FPRF work on Electric Vehicles Industrial Fire World – Fluorine Free Foam (F3) Research Highlights Major Deficiencieson FPRF Fluorine-Free Foam work. Multi-media Podcast – Cybersecurity in Building Systems- Interview with Tyler Robinson from FPRF Technical Panel for “Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems” project. Podcast – A Better Fit – Interview with Meredith McQuerry, lead researcher from Florida State University, regarding a FRPF Advisory Service Project onthe design and fit of “Female Firefighter PPE”. Podcast - The Evolving Science of Firefighting – Dan Madrzykowski and Stephen Kerber, UL FSRI, discuss findings of their extensive research and how this knowledge has been collected and distilled into NFPA 1700. Podcast – Fires and Recreational Vehicles - Interview with Doug Mulvaney from Campgrounds of America Video – Learn Something New “What you didn’t know about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Alarms” Video –Key findings of the “Damage and Loss Assessment of Recreational Vehicles” report. Video – Learn Something New “The Modern US Fire Problem” on the “Fire Safety in the US” project. 2021 Q1 & Q2 webinar update Upcoming Webinars FPRF Webinar: Traditional and Particulate-Blocking Hoods: Pros, Cons, and Trade-Offs, on August 4th, 12:30-2pm ET. Register here. FPRF Webinar Panel Discussion: Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems in September 2021 (Date – TBD) from 12:30 – 2:00 pm ET. Other news FPRF launched a new paid “Energy Storage Research Consortium” to support research planning and implementation of projects to fill data gaps for emerging technologies. Email research@nfpa.org for more information. SUPDET/AUBE 2021, The Research Foundation’s Annual “Suppression, Detection, Signaling and Applications” Conference in collaboration with the University of Duisburg-Essen’s AUBE Conference, will be held September 21 – 23, 2021 in Mulheim an der Ruhr, Germany. In-person and virtual attendance options are available. Register here. 2021 Foundation Medal was awarded to: Evaluation of fire protection effectiveness of fluorine free firefighting foams project by Jensen Hughes & Naval Research Laboratory. Holistic Protection Method of Top-Loading Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (January 27). Access the webinar here. Obstructions and Early Suppression Fast Response Sprinklers (February 10). Access the webinar here. Combustible Gas Dispersion and Detector Location Analysis in Residential Occupancies (March 10). Access the webinar here. FPRF Webinar: “Fire Safety Challenges of Green Building and Attributes” on April 14, 2021. Access the webinar recording here. FPRF Webinar: “ITM Data Exchange: New Frontier of Standardization to Support Reliability Analyses” on June 29, 2021. Access the webinar recording here. Check out our quarterly newsletter, available at www.nfpa.org/foundation, to stay up to date on the latest information, knowledge, and events from the Foundation.
Testing and maintenance

Research Foundation workshop proceedings and webinar recording on “ITM Data Exchange: New Frontier of Standardization to Support Reliability Analyses” is now available

Fire protection systems are an essential part of a building’s safety ecosystem. The installation of such systems is just the beginning of a more dynamic safety process that requires diligent inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) efforts. ITM plays a significant, fundamental role in managing facility risks, and ensures that systems will activate as intended, when needed, and ultimately minimize downtime — because down time equates to accumulated risk. There are nearly 70 NFPA codes and standards requiring some form of ITM. In recent years, there has been interest in using inspection, testing, and maintenance activity data to inform decisions related to system reliability, risk acceptability, and ITM frequencies. These data are being captured in thousands of different formats, through hundreds of different approaches, and by thousands of different groups, but one key element has been lacking to date - standardization. This void has restricted the ability to determine sound performance-based inspection frequencies and prevents stakeholders from exchanging and analyzing data that can influence safety and efficiencies. To address this need, a novel approach to standardizing ITM data using concepts of linked data and graph-modeling was pilot tested through a Fire Protection Research Foundation project. The project developed a proof-of-concept comprehensive, scalable, and extensible ITM data exchange model that can facilitate data sharing from diverse data sources to support reliability analyses and predictive analytics. Guided by the concepts of fair data principles, this case study demonstrated how graph-modeling and other cutting-edge techniques are being leveraged to collect and consolidate data to enable further analysis, reporting, and sharing of ITM data for the needs of various stakeholder groups. Earlier in January 2021, the FPRF hosted a workshop with various stakeholders including AHJ’s, facility managers, building owners, fire protection contractors, inspectors, fire protection engineers or consultants, codes & standards representatives, fire protection manufacturers, insurers, data solution providers and other relevant stakeholders. The primary objectives of this workshop were to: Review the developed ITM Data Exchange model and the supporting material and provide a forum for stakeholders to provide feedback on the developed model and analytics dashboard. The workshop also touched on aspects such as how to move this concept forward as a community, how to develop and implement a community review and update process, and how to leverage this data model to share and exchange data to support analyses for the benefit of the fire protection community. The outcomes from this workshop are summarized in the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM) Data Exchange Model Workshop Proceedings, which are now accessible on the FPRF website. The Foundation also presented this ITM data exchange model as a webinar on June 29, 2021, as a part of their 2021 webinar series. If you missed attending the webinar live, the webinar recording is now available for viewing here. Visit www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming NFPA and FPRF webinars and archives.

Fire Break

A wildfire burning at night

Maintaining vigilance through the 2021 fire year

The 2021 fire year is halfway through, and it has been a busy one so far. As of today, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports over 32,000 fires had been reported, burning over 1.6 million acres.  Communities have been threatened and homes have been lost. Looking forward, the National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC’s) Predictive Services newest National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for July, August, September, and October 2021 shows much of the west above normal wildfire potential. This is setting up for a volatile situation. While the main objective of NIFC’s outlook is to improve information to fire management decision makers for proactive wildland fire management, thus better protecting lives and property, reducing firefighting costs and improving firefighting efficiency; it can also be of use to wildfire preparedness practitioners and residents. The outlook reminds us to be proactive, dedicating time throughout the year to improve your home's chances of withstanding a wildfire. Here are a few actions you can take: Clean out leaves, needles, and other debris from your roof and gutters Move any flammable material away from wall exteriors – mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, firewood piles – anything that can burn. Remove anything stored underneath decks or porches. Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating Create space between plants, trees and shrubs in the 5-30 foot zone from the house, limit to small clusters of a few of each to break up the continuity of the vegetation across the landscape. For more ideas on what steps to take around your home and property visit our Preparing Homes for Wildfires Page.  You can also order a package of our Reducing Wildfire Risks in the Home Ignition Zones Poster checklists to share with your friends and neighbors.
A wildfire in the hills

Just the facts: fireworks pose special dangers this holiday season

Americans celebrate July 4 with many traditions, including fireworks, to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence by representatives of 13 British colonies to break away from England and form a new nation. We love and cherish our holiday traditions, but unfortunately, conditions in many states make our use of fireworks especially dangerous and deadly this year. Deaths and injuries from consumer fireworks occur every year, and so do brush, grass and forest fires. The challenge is clear. Hot, dry weather and ongoing drought in many states add up to an ominous outlook for wildfire ignitions this summer. As one of my favorite Founding Fathers once said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams, first U.S. vice-president and second U.S. president, wasn’t referring to the statistics related to fireworks, but his words certainly apply when confronting our national wish to celebrate as usual in the face of overwhelming evidence of the risks to people, lands, and property. Did you know that the 4th and 5th of July are the peak days for wildfire incidents? Local fire departments respond to more than 7,000 wildfires on those days, on average. NFPA’s latest Brush, Grass, and Forest Fires report show annual averages for July 4 incidents at five times the daily average.  In addition, a recent fire science study on the impacts of human-ignited wildfires on U.S. homes notes the singularity of early July in terms of human-caused wildfire. The report concludes that, “People are starting almost all of the wildfires that threaten our homes.” In addition to wildfires that threaten lives, property, and challenge the ability of firefighters in drought-stricken regions to readily suppress them, fireworks do damage every year to people – one-third of whom are children. In 2018, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks-related injuries. More than a third of those injuries were to the eye or other parts of the head. Sadly, in 2020, fireworks injuries sent an estimated 15,600 people to the hospital, with more injuries seen last year than in the previous 15 years. Many fire scientists and land managers are so dismayed by these facts and the severe current wildfire conditions that they are circulating a sign-on statement pleading with the public to forego fireworks this July 4th. NFPA’s position has long been that the use of consumer fireworks is inherently unsafe. Recent changes to laws which have loosened the restriction on sales of more powerful pyrotechnics to the public intensifies our view. Get the facts, as well as fun alternatives to fireworks to celebrate our nation’s birthday this coming week on NFPA’s Fireworks page. Help your family enjoy the celebration while staying out of the emergency room and keeping your neighbors safer from accidental wildfire ignitions.

Safety Source

Fireworks

Fireworks education remains a priority all summer long

NFPA’s stance on fireworks is clear and to the point – “Leave fireworks in the hands of the professionals.” Whether or not your state/province allows the use of consumer fireworks, fireworks pose too significant a risk to use them “safely.” Many people will ask, “but what about Sparklers – they’re safe aren’t they?”  And the qualified answer is “No.” Consider that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), and that Sparklers reach nearly six times that - 1200 degrees Fahrenheit (649 degrees C)! A new report from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 2019. Highlights from this 2020 special report include: At least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported for the previous year. About 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020. There were about 10,000 ER-treated fireworks injuries in 2019. Firecrackers were the biggest source of Emergency Room treated fireworks injuries (1,600) followed by sparklers (900). Approximately 75 percent of the victims were treated at the hospital emergency department and then released. An estimated 21 percent of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital or admitted to the hospital. What does that mean for 2021?  As the month of July wraps up, it is important for Fire & Life Safety (FLS) educators to continue to educate on the dangers of consumer fireworks and promote alternatives that are safe and fun to enjoy the summer months that won’t cause burns, injuries, and trips to the hospital. NFPA’s Fireworks Safety Education page contains infographics, social media cards, videos, and relevant messaging to support your fire and burn prevention efforts and promote safe and healthy communities. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter,  Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division.

There’s a lot to learn from our peers for how to have a successful Fire Prevention Week!

Join us for the free Fire Prevention Week (FPW):  Kickstart your 2021 campaign! Webinar, Thursday, July 29th from 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. Eastern Time to learn all about this year’s FPW theme “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety” and how you can engage your community in fire & burn prevention.  Learn from the experts – your peers in Fire & Life Safety (FLS) education - the keys to a great social media campaign, and how you can plan for transitioning back to in person/hybrid learning. Get updates on smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm technology, proper messaging, free resources, and how to assure inclusion of people who are deaf and hard of hearing into this year’s FPW efforts. The webinar features: Andrea Vastis and Kelly Ransdell with NFPA Monica Colby, Fire & Life Safety Educator, Rapid City Fire Department, SD Brene Duggins, Fire Prevention Coordinator, Holly Grove, NC Fire Department and media coordinator of the Oak Grove High School in Davidson County, NC Ashley Rodrigue, Public Affairs Director, Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office This year’s FPW campaign, “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety!” works to educate people about the different sounds the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms make and to insure they know what to do when an alarm makes a “chirp,” or alarm sound.  Check out www.fpw.org to download our toolkit with pre-formatted social media cards, innovative ideas, FPW logos, and so much more! Register Today! for this valuable, free webinar to support your Fire Prevention Week efforts! Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter,  Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division.

Fire Sprinkler Initiative

New Survey: Millennial Homebuyers Say Fire Safety and Fire Sprinklers are Key Factors When Buying a New Home

In October of 2020, Opinium surveyed more than 2,000 US adults of all ages about new-home preferences and fire safety. The results proved interesting, confirming what many of us believe: millennials have different buying priorities compared to older generations. According to the survey, 100 percent of renters said they have plans to purchase a home in the next three years. About 80 percent (8 out of 10 surveyed) said they would prefer to buy a home with fire sprinklers after learning how they work, while 72 percent recognized that fire sprinklers add value to a home. With more than a million homes built annually and millennials making up the largest share of homebuyers, now is the time for developers, builders, and local officials to see there is strong interest in home fire sprinklers. To this end, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) has developed a presentation to support local fire service home fire sprinkler education. Fire service members are encouraged to share this information with the building community, especially when AHJs are discussing trade ups as incentives. Developers who build with fire sprinklers can reduce construction costs, increase profitability, and make their homes more appealing to today’s homebuyers. With more than 70 million millennials entering the housing market today, developers must compete by anticipating and meeting their demands. Download the presentation today and share it with the stakeholders in your community. Learn more about the HFSC by visiting the website at homefiresprinkler.org.
Sprinkler heads

Sustainable Home Improvement Magazine Article Emphasizes Value of Home Fire Sprinklers

House fires today are becoming increasingly dangerous and deadly, highlighting the necessity of home fire sprinkler units. According to an NFPA “Fire Loss in the United States During 2019” report, there were about 1.3 million fires requiring a response from a fire department. These fires led to approximately 8,800 injuries and 3,700 deaths. According to research, if someone reports a home fire, they are 15 percent more likely to die than they were 40 years ago. Today, fires burn faster and kill quicker in large part because “the contents of modern homes (such as furnishings) can burn faster and more intensely,” Richard Bukowski, a senior engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, was quoted as saying in Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) fact sheet. Fire sprinklers have been proven effective at controlling fires and would halt the growth of these statistics if they were widely used in homes. In a recent article from Rise, a leading online authority in sustainable home improvement, Sheri Koones wrote about why fire sprinklers are so effective. “When there is a fire in the house, a sprinkler can respond almost immediately, reducing the amount of damage caused by the fire and potentially saving the lives of the residents,” she said. This is extremely important as she noted later in the article that “it usually takes the fire department between five and 10 minutes to arrive at the home.” HFSC states that fire flashover takes place within the first three to five minutes of the fire based on national averages. Fire sprinkler systems can control a fire even before firefighters arrive on the scene. According to the graph below from NFPA,  the death rates from fires in homes with a sprinkler system is significantly lower than those without. However, from 2010-2014, fire sprinkler systems were only found in seven percent of all home fires, according to NFPA. Even though fire sprinkler systems have been proven extremely effective, people still have many misconceptions about them. In her article, Koones lists some of the most common ones and disproves them: Smoke will activate fire sprinklers. Koones is quick to show that this is false, writing that “the sprinklers are activated by heat, not smoke.”  When there is a fire, all the sprinklers in the house are activated. “Only the sprinkler closest to the fire is activated by the heat,” Koones says. “This localized activation confines the water to just the area where the fire is raging.” The sprinklers may not look aesthetically pleasing. “Home fire sprinklers are far less conspicuous compared to older commercial sprinklers. You can install pendants or concealed sprinklers on the ceiling or a wall. Concealed sprinklers have a plate. Some can be panted by the sprinkler manufacturer to match the room’s colors,” Koones states. To read the full article, visit buildwithrise.com. Also, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition website to get information and resources to help you in your efforts to communicate the value of sprinkler technology and the need for more home installations to save more lives.

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