Topic: Emergency Response

Cannabis growing facility

NFPA Standards Council approves development of NFPA 420, Standard on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities

The NFPA Standards Council has approved the development of NFPA 420, Standard on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities. The new standard, which was originally proposed in response to serious fires that have occurred at cannabis facilities in recent years, will provide clear guidance on fire protection standards for facilities that produce, process and extract cannabis. Rapid legalization of medical and/or recreational use of cannabis throughout the U.S. and the exponential growth of facilities around the globe have also underscored that provisions are needed to minimize fire and associated risks these types of facilities. As recently as few weeks ago, a three-alarm fire destroyed a cannabis facility in Shelton, Washington. NFPA 420 will build upon the work started several years ago in NFPA 1, Fire Code, which addresses the fire protection aspects of the growing and processing facilities. The new stand-alone document will expand upon those requirements, referencing appropriate resources as needed, with the overall goal of addressing the protection of facilities from fire and related hazards where cannabis is being grown, processed, extracted and/or tested. NFPA 420 is envisioned by the council to include requirements for inspecting, systems testing, and maintenance of cannabis growing, processing, and extraction facilities. It also is anticipated to establish the general skills, knowledge and experience required among facility operators and facility managers responsible for ensuring adequate levels of safety at these facilities. The start-up roster for the Technical Committee on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities (CGP-AAA) will be appointed at the NFPA Standards Council meeting in August 2021. Applications to serve on the committee are being accepted through June 15, 2021. For those interested in learning more about the primary fire and life safety hazards at cannabis growing and extraction/processing facilities, as well as best practices to safely run these facilities, NFPA is hosting a two-hour Fire and Life Safety Hazards in Cannabis Cultivation and Processing Facilities presentation on June 22, 10:30-12:30 EST. Presented by Kristin Bigda and Val Ziavras of NFPA, the session is one of several online presentations planned that day, which address timely issues facing building and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more about all this and the wide array of sessions planned in support of the NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series at www.nfpa.org/conferenceseries. Visit the NFPA cannabis fire and life safety page to access and/or download a wide range of information and resources on fire protection at cannabis facilities.
NEC meeting

Celebrating NFPA’s 125th Anniversary and its Rich History with the NEC; Year-Long Anniversary Education Conference Series Kicks Off with One-Day Electrical Program on May 18

NFPA is 125 years young! Founded in 1896 by like-minded visionaries looking to better protect society from the devastating effects of fire, our vital mission has transcended the 10-plus decades that have passed since we first came to be. Organizations do not reach the age of 125 unless there is a compelling reason to exist. As it was in the beginning, it is still true today. Fire, electrical and other hazards adversely affect our society in many ways. As society evolves so, too, do the hazards we face. While implementation of NFPA codes and standards has ameliorated many hazards, new ones arise and the challenge of making people safer is why NFPA is just as important today as we were 125 years ago. Coincidentally, another group of safety professionals met in March 1896 to take on a parallel challenge. Their task: how to make the burgeoning use of electricity and its associated hazards safe for installations in homes and businesses. Their efforts resulted in the first electrical code that could truly be viewed as a national standard. The first edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) was published by the National Board of Fire Underwriters in 1897 and standardized electrical safety requirements so that installers, designers, manufacturers, product testing organizations, and inspectors had a single set of installation requirements that could be implemented anywhere. The codification of these standardized rules laid the foundation for the most well-known and widely used construction code in the world. The parallel paths of NFPA and the National Electrical Code intersected in 1911 when NFPA assumed the sponsorship of the National Electrical Code. The Code’s mission perfectly meshed with the NFPA mission and since 1911, 36 subsequent editions of the NEC have been published by NFPA. Like the community that uses it, the NEC is dynamic. The electrical world doesn’t stop and take a breath when each new NEC is published. Advancements in technology and products necessitate the NEC community to always be looking forward, not backwards. Implementation of new technology and methods require an up-to-date installation standard and that is why the process rewinds every three years and starts again. Beginning in November, the over 500 members of the National Electrical Code Committee met to review and act on proposed changes for the 2023 edition. Eighteen technical committees, known in the NEC process as “Code-Making Panels” convened to do the all-important work. These CMP meetings were preceded by countless hours of task group work in preparation for the actual meetings. And, unlike any NEC meeting in the past, the 2023 First Draft meetings had to be held virtually due to the pandemic.  Despite this changeup in meeting format, the process continued like a well-oiled machine, processing 4,006 public inputs. We invite you to continue to follow the 2023 NEC development process by going to www.nfpa.org/70 and clicking on the “Next Edition” tab. While electrical equipment and wiring practices have changed immeasurably since the first meeting in 1896, the mission of making electrical installations safe remains unchanged. Like the original members of the NEC committee, today’s members approach their task with energy and dedication because they know their work has an outcome that benefits millions. Every receptacle, luminaire, panelboard, and solar photovoltaic panel installed is safety driven by the NEC. While the work is hard, and the hours are long, the men and women of the NEC committee do their work with the satisfaction of knowing they are making a difference. To commemorate its milestone anniversary, and to honor the work of safety professionals around the globe and the impact it has had on the public’s safety, NFPA is rolling out a number of initiatives and events from May 2021 – March 2022, including hosting a 125th Anniversary Conference Series featuring 10 one-day virtual educational programs. On May 18, we are excited to kick it off with the first program of the series: Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety. The full-day program event is focused on advances in technology, the impact of new technologies on electrical codes and standards, and how technology is influencing today’s industry, with sessions led by leading subject matter experts who are passionate about electrical safety. From in-depth educations sessions to roundtable discussions and networking events, this unique virtual educational program has everything electrical practitioners need to remain competitive in the field and improve safety outcomes on the job. You don’t want to miss this exciting program! Visit our conference series webpage to get all the details and sign up to attend. More information about the full roster of programs happening throughout the year is also available. Not sure you’ll be able to attend? Every program is available on demand to meet your needs and fit your busy schedule. Please visit nfpa.org/conferenceseries to learn about our anniversary celebration and our conference series’ programs. I look forward to seeing you all there!    

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.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Do you think Carbon Monoxide (CO) detection requirements are adequate in your town?

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!

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.  

How vulnerable are our fire protection systems to cyber-attacks? Let’s talk about it!

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.  
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