Topic: Public Education

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.
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.

NFPA’s 125th Anniversary Conference Series is Unveiled, replacing traditionally scheduled plans for 2021 Conference and Expo®

With the continued uncertainty of live events stretching well into 2021, NFPA has announced that the 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo® (C&E) will not happen as traditionally scheduled and instead will be replaced with the 125th Anniversary Conference Series, a year-long, targeted, virtual experience. Given the continued threats posed by the pandemic, holding an in-person event of C&E’s size and scope is not a safe option. Consequently, NFPA is switching gears so that we can fully devote our efforts to creating a new, virtual experience that lives up to our audiences’ expectations while ensuring the safety of everyone who attends and participates. The new conference series will feature education sessions for specific areas of expertise, networking events, and product showcases throughout 2021, culminating with the return of an in-person 2022 event in Boston that celebrates the association’s 125th anniversary. In the months ahead, the 125th Anniversary Conference series will digitally deliver an innovative host of resources, information, events, and activities that reflect our continued efforts to leverage technology to significantly advance the way safety information is delivered and used to reduce loss across the globe. The NFPA annual business meeting will take place virtually this year during the week of June 21 ,2021. The annual technical session will take place electronically at a date to be announced. Additional details on the technical session can be found at For more information and the latest updates, visit
Electrical labeling signs

All signs point to required labeling as a major ally in the pursuit of safety of those performing electrical work

“…do this, don’t do that – can’t you read the sign?”  The year was 1971 and I certainly find some irony in the fact that the original band to perform this well-known ditty was dubbed as the Five Man Electrical Band. If you listen to the lyrics of the song, it doesn’t necessarily portray signs in the best light (see what I did there?).  The songwriter depicts signs as being controlling and limiting to individuals who may look or act different than what may be considered the norm. For someone who is looking for unlimited freedom to do whatever they choose, signs can certainly be seen as restrictive and unnecessary.  But when it comes to ensuring the safety of individuals working around electricity, signs can be a critical factor in determining life, or death. NFPA 70©, National Electrical Code© (NEC©), and NFPA 70E© Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace© are two of the three components that are crucial to the electrical Cycle of Safety, with NFPA 70B,© Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance© being the third.  While the purpose of the NEC is to safeguard persons and property from hazards that may arise from the use of electricity, NFPA 70E provides enforceable responsibilities for both employers and employees to protect employees against electrical hazards to which employees might be exposed.  So, while the focus of the NEC is on safe installations, NFPA 70E exists to help ensure that the installation is done safely by the individual(s) performing the work. With that said, it becomes easier to see how the NEC and NFPA 70E must be applied together in harmony to ensure the safety of both people and property within any given scenario dealing with electricity. Signs, or “labeling” as they are often referenced, can be seen regularly within the NEC as well as NFPA 70E.  NEC section 110.16(B) deals specifically with labeling of service equipment rated at 1200 amps or more, maintaining that the label itself must meet the requirements of NEC section 110.21(B), which deals with label design, affixation, and durability. As well as containing the following information: Nominal system voltage Available fault current at the service overcurrent protective devices The clearing time of service overcurrent protective devices based on the available fault current at the service equipment The date the label was applied The exception within NEC section 110.16(B) states that “service equipment labeling shall not be required if an arc flash label is applied in accordance with acceptable industry practice.”  Such accepted industry practice arc flash labeling practices reside within NFPA 70E.  As a means of tying the NEC installation requirements back into NFPA 70E, Informational Note No. 3 within NEC section 110.16(B) goes on to note that NFPA 70E as covering labeling information stating that “Acceptable industry practices for equipment labeling are described in the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E. This standard provides specific criteria for developing arc-flash labels for equipment that provides nominal system voltage, incident energy levels, arc-flash boundaries, minimum required levels of personal protective equipment, and so forth.”  So, you may be asking yourself, where does the information (we are talking about here as being listed on the labeling) come into play as far as safety?  Much of this information can be utilized for risk assessment as well as personal protection equipment (PPE) selection, should we get to that level as we work our way through the Hierarchy of Risk Control Methods as listed within NFPA 70E section 110.5(H)(3).  Understanding the known risk(s) and having the information needed to make a well-educated decision, including choosing proper PPE when deemed necessary. This required labeling, as applied by intertwining both the NEC and NFPA 70E, can now be viewed as a major ally in helping ensure the safety of those performing electrical work. Knowledge is power. Empower your ability to remain safe by learning more. You can find additional resources and information about this topic by visiting the NFPA’s electrical solutions webpage. NFPA also offers 2021 NFPA 70E online training, which features interactive content, including scenarios, videos, and animated images to help you understand core concepts and strategies related to workplace electrical safety. Visit the training webpage to learn more.
house with lights on

Home Electrical Safety the Focus of NFPA Faces of Fire Electrical Hazard Awareness Campaign Video

As 2021 winter season kicks off and with more households continuing to work and study from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, we must be ever vigilant about home fire safety. This includes understanding the dangers of electricity related to our devices and equipment powered by it. NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors have introduced the fifth video interview of their six-part campaign series, Faces of Fire/Electrical, that features the personal story of a woman who, as a young girl, was seriously injured in an house fire, demonstrating the need for continued education and awareness about electrical hazards at home.  In the spring of 1959, then five-year old Pam Elliott suffered third degree burns over 50 percent of her body from a fire ignited by a damaged lighting fixture that destroyed her family home. She spent months during her elementary and high school years undergoing reconstructive surgery to help restore the function of her hands, arms, and legs, and the appearance of her injuries. Equipment and devices powered by electricity as well as faulty structural wiring are potential sources for electrical fires. We all know how much electricity makes our lives easier but today we expect more out of our electrical systems than ever before. This increased need often puts undo burden on these systems, especially in aging homes that are not set up for all our modern equipment and lighting. The Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign reminds us about potential home electrical hazards, how to recognize the warning signs, and the action steps homeowners need to take to reduce associated risks, including contacting a local qualified, licensed electrician who can work with us to find and correct fire safety hazards in our home before a serious incident occurs.  While many electrical injuries prove fatal, those that are not can be particularly debilitating, oftentimes involving complicated recoveries and lasting emotional and physical impact. Today, Pam shares her personal burn story to advocate for home fire sprinklers and home fire safety and she speaks for the most vulnerable people in house fires including infants, children, the elderly, and the disabled. Overall, the Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign works to help build a safer world by teaching others and supporting the burn survivor community in advancing lifelong healing, optimal recovery, and burn and injury prevention. We sincerely thank Pam for sharing her story with us. You can view all of the videos, including the latest interview with Fire Chief Luis Nevarez, from California,  Amy Acton, Chief Executive Officer of the Phoenix Society, and  the first two videos of our series featuring Dave Schury and Sam Matagi, on our dedicated campaign webpage. There you will also find free resources to download and share, including fact sheets, tip sheets, infographics and more, in addition to information about electrical safety in both the home and in the workplace. See Pam’s video and read more about her work by visiting the Faces of Fire/Electrical website at
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