Cannabis facility

NFPA seeks input on development of a new cannabis fire protection standard

With medical and/or recreational use of cannabis now legalized in 34 states and Washington D.C, the number of cannabis facilities across the country has grown exponentially. In the past few years, serious fires have occurred in these growing and processing facilities, highlighting the need for clear guidance on associated fire and life safety considerations, specifically for the cannabis industry. NFPA is currently considering the development of a new cannabis fire protection standard. As proposed, this effort would continue and expand upon the work started several years ago with NFPA 1, Fire Code, which addresses the fire protection aspects of the growing and processing facilities The new stand-alone document would consolidate and expand requirements, and reference appropriate resources into a standalone document.  More specifically, the standard would address the protection of facilities from fire and related hazards where cannabis is being grown, processed, extracted and/or tested. In addition, activities related to the proposed project would include the development of requirements for inspecting, testing and maintenance of cannabis growing, processing, and extraction procedures. It would also determine the general skills, knowledge and experience required among facility operators and facility managers responsible for ensuring adequate levels of safety at these types of facilities. NFPA is seeking comments from all interested organizations and individuals to gauge whether support exists for development of such a standard. In particular, we are soliciting feedback on the following questions: Are you, or your organization, in favor of the development of an NFPA Standard pertaining to the fire protection of cannabis growing and processing facilities? Please state your reason(s) for supporting or opposing such standards development. Are you or your organization interested in applying for membership on the Technical Committee if the Standards Council initiates development activities on the proposed project? If yes, please submit an application, in addition to your comments in support of the project, online at: Submit online application* *Note: Applications are being accepted for purposes of documenting applicant interest in committee participation.  However, acceptance of applications by NFPA does not guarantee or imply the NFPA Standards Council will ultimately approve standards development activity on this subject matter. Please submit all comments in support or opposition to standards development related to fire protection of cannabis growing and processing facilities by March 31, 2021 at:  stds_admin@nfpa.org.
Rolling fire door

How is a rolling fire door inspection different than a swinging door?

So, you are used to inspecting swinging fire doors per NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives as required by NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® and are comfortable with those requirements, but you have come across a rolling fire door. Let’s take a few minutes to review some unique aspects to inspecting a rolling fire door. Rolling steel fire doors come in various sizes and can be used for different applications. The term rolling steel fire door as used by most manufacturers refers to a product that is intended for use in relatively larger openings. Such products generally utilize larger slat designs and more substantial guides for securing the assembly to the wall. Many manufacturers use the term counter fire door in reference to products that are typically designed for use on smaller openings such as counters. Their construction is similar to the product that is manufactured as a rolling steel fire door except that the assemblies typically use smaller slat designs and formed steel sections for guides. NFPA 80 does not differentiate between these products. NFPA 80 requires that door openings and their surrounding areas be kept clear of anything that could obstruct or interfere with the free operation of the door. This is something that is very important to pay attention to with rolling fire doors because it is very easy for someone to unknowingly place furniture under a rolling fire door that would obstruct it from closing, which would render the entire assembly useless. Because of this, operators of a facility should be trained to know the areas where they cannot place items that could interfere with the rolling fire door. Just as with swinging fire doors, rolling fire doors are required to be inspected, tested, and maintained in accordance with NFPA 80, which includes an annual inspection. During this inspection, the rolling door needs to be drop-tested twice. The first drop is done to ensure that the assembly is in proper operation and fully closes, the second drop is to ensure that the entire assembly including the automatic closing device was reset correctly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you check any fusible links, release devices, and any other moveable parts to ensure that they are not painted or coated with materials that could interfere with the operation of the assembly. Some of the items that need to be inspected are similar to those for a swinging fire door, such as: the label ·open holes, breaks or damage modifications missing or broken parts auxiliary hardware that can interfere with the operation of the door, In addition, there are other items that need to be checked on a rolling fire door. The first is to make sure that the curtain, barrel, and guides are aligned, level, plumb, and true, this is necessary to ensuring that all the components of the assembly work together properly. Next you will need to ensure that all the expansion clearances outlined in the manufacturers listing are maintained. This is different than a swinging fire door because NFPA 80 does not provide those clearances, they need to be provided from the manufacturer and should be located in the listing. Mechanisms that are utilized for the automatic operation of the rolling fire door such as smoke detectors or fusible links need to be inspected to ensure that they are operational. If the rolling fire door relies on the fire alarm for operation, it may be required to initiate a fire alarm and confirm that it operates in accordance with the fire alarm input/output matrix. One additional difference between a swinging fire door inspection and a rolling fire door inspection is that you will need to confirm that the rolling fire door has an average closing speed of not less than 6 in./sec (152 mm/sec) or more than 24 in./sec (610 mm/sec), which means you will need to measure the total length the door must close and record the amount of time it takes to close in order to calculate the average time. Clearly, there are some differences with inspecting a rolling fire door as compared to a swinging fire door. As a result, I recommend taking a look at chapter 5 in NFPA 80 to find all of the specific requirements before performing an inspection. Let me know in the comments if you have had any experience with inspecting rolling fire doors. Are there any other things that you pay attention to or have come across?
James M. Shannon Award
Energy Storage System

NFPA releases energy storage system fact sheet as Biden Administration set to lead a clean energy revolution

NFPA has released a new energy storage systems (ESS) safety fact sheet as President-elect Joe Biden, a strong clean energy proponent, is set to take office on Wednesday. The 46th president and his Administration are expected to spearhead a Clean Energy Revolution via a 9-step plan their campaign laid out. That strategy states, in part, that, “On the first day of Biden’s Administration, according to the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will only be 9 years to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Biden will act on climate change immediately and ambitiously, because there is no time to waste, and will invest $400 billion over ten years, as part of a broad mobilization of public investment, in clean energy and innovation – an investment (in today’s dollars) that is twice what was made in the Apollo program that put man on the moon.”  NFPA is no stranger to clean energy safety. Over the past 10 years, the Association has introduced groundbreaking training for the fire service and others on topics such as solar energy, energy storage systems, electric vehicles, and flammable refrigerants to ensure that as communities embrace and incentivize the use of green technologies, first and second responders are well-informed about potential safety issues. Policy makers, code officials, manufacturers, designers, engineers, skilled labor, and the public also share responsibility in ensuring the safety of people and property and have found enormous value in the NFPA guidance too.  With more and more countries, states, and communities putting forth zero emissions deadlines, tax breaks and other changes, NFPA developed the at-a-glance Energy Storage Systems Safety Fact Sheet to bring the safety considerations of ESS to the forefront. The resource distills key points identified in NFPA ESS training, NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Energy Storage Systems, and related materials, with an emphasis on:  The meaning of ESS The advantages of supplemental service, peak-shaving, load-leveling, and uninterruptible power supply Hazards such as thermal runaway, stranded energy, toxic and flammable gases, deep-seated fires, mechanical/thermal/electrical abuse and environmental impacts Designer/contractor considerations for safety – explosion protection/prevention, fire protection systems, battery management systems, and ESS spacing Permitting checklist for authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) Pre-incident planning and emergency operations planning highlights Available resources such as research, other fact sheets, and related standards  Additionally, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, is in the process of finalizing an Energy Storage Research Consortium for interested members of the energy storage and fire protection industries to discuss industry-relevant fire protection issues and related research needs.  According to the Biden renewables strategy, a target will be set to reduce the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035 and incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation will be introduced. Biden will also work with governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030, an infrastructure issue that NFPA is currently focused on as part of the NFPA Spurs the Safe Adoption of Electric Vehicles though Education and Outreach effort.  NFPA has dedicated microsites for ESS, alternative fuel and electric vehicles, and the flammable refrigerants that are part of a global accord signed by nearly 200 countries including the United States; as well as insights from the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute. All these resources stress that safety is a system. 

Institution of Fire Engineers Approves NFPA CFPS Credential As Key Component for IFE Membership Application

The Membership Application Assessment Panel (MAAP) of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) has determined that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS) credential will now be recognized as a major component for IFE membership. The NFPA CFPS Certification program was created in 1971 for the purpose of documenting competency and providing professional recognition for individuals involved in curtailing both physical and financial fire loss. Over the course of nearly 50 years, the CFPS designation has been awarded to more than 5,000 people who have demonstrated a level of professionalism through applied work experience, related educational opportunities, and successful completion of a certification examination. Members of the CFPS community include engineers, risk managers, loss control specialists, fire officers, fire marshals, fire inspectors, safety managers, fire protection consultants, designers, code enforcers, facility managers and others who are responsible for the application of fire safety, protection, prevention, and suppression technologies. The IFE will now review and approve applications for membership in North America with three criteria in mind: current certification status, submission of a resume (C.V.), and documentation of formal education beyond secondary school (college or university).The IFE USA Branch has been approved to review and pre-approve applicants with a valid, current CFPS Certification in the United States and Canada, before submitting these to IFE’s MAAP for final consideration. The new strategy is designed to streamline the IFE membership application process while ensuring that candidates have the high-level fire protection insights, career experience, and educational background that are synonymous with IFE membership. The new membership application benchmarks are as follows: For IFE Member Grade status (MIFireE), candidates must have NFPA CFPS Certification plus a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a fire protection-related discipline from an accredited college or university, including degrees in engineering fields that are applied to the practice of fire protection plus FIVE years of verifiable work experience dedicated to protecting people and property. For IFE Graduate Grade status (GIFireE), candidates must have NFPA CFPS Certification plus an Associate’s degree in a fire protection-related discipline from an accredited college or university, or a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in any unrelated field; plus THREE years of verifiable work experience dedicated to reducing loss and liability. Candidates with CFPS Certification, but without the formal education qualification requirements noted above, will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the time of their application. CFPS Certification will be seen as being equivalent to meeting entry level IFE learning objectives for Technician Grade (TIFireE) or Associate Grade (AIFireE) memberships, depending on the years and type of post-education fire engineering work experience. The review and approval process for CFPS-qualified IFE applicants may be devolved to include other IFE branches around the world once branch reviewer training and compliance with review process rules have been verified. The IFE Membership Application Assessment Panel, however, retains the right and role of performing a quality assurance process on all applications recommended for IFE membership by an approved IFE Branch. Learn more about CFPS and other NFPA certification offerings here.
Obstructions and Early Suppression Fast Response Sprinklers
Fire truck in Mexico City

The Mexico City Subway Station Fire Raises Questions About Maintenance and Updating

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.
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