Topic: Emergency Response

Gas range

NIOSH releases fact sheet on odorant fade

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, released a fact sheet on odorant fade in natural gas and propane, an important issue that requires firefighters to be aware of it so they can operate safely around natural gas and propane. Odorant is a liquid added to natural gas and propane that releases a smell in case of a leak. The smell alerts anyone nearby about a leak since natural gas and propane are naturally odorless. The odorant, mercaptan, can fade over time through absorption or oxidation as the leaking gas runs through soil or concrete. Drywall, plywood, and new piping can also strip the odorant from natural gas and propane. The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) released recommendations for firefighters responding to natural gas and propane incidents. They recommend the following: The use of gas detection equipment in these events, and not relying on their sense of smell to determine if there is a leak of natural gas or propane Understanding that odorants from natural gas or propane can fade Being trained on the proper calibration, maintenance, and use of gas detection equipment to determine if a potentially explosive atmosphere is present Recognizing that a lack of odor can result from natural gas or propane contacting soil, concrete, and a wide variety of building materials such as drywall, wood, and new piping storage tanks The fact sheet noted an incident from September 2019 where a firefighter in Maine was killed and six others were injured when propane gas ignited at a newly renovated office building. NIOSH FFFIPP investigators identified odor fade as one of the key contributing factors in that tragedy. In 2020, an explosion in Baltimore killed two people and highlighted the need for fuel gas detection. NFPA 715 Standard for the Installation of Fuel Gases Detection and Warning Equipment is currently in the early development phase. The new standard will cover the selection, design, application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fuel gas detection and warning equipment in buildings and structures. Additionally, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, recently released a report on combustible gas detection (CGD) placement. The research looks to use modeling work to justify requirements in NFPA 715 for the best location of CGD in order to ensure early and accurate detection of leaks. The Research Foundation hosted a webinar on the topic earlier this month too. For more information on odorant fade, check out the fact sheet here.  
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.  
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.

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 www.nfpa.org/2021techsession. For more information and the latest updates, visit www.nfpa.org/conference.

2021 Edition of NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquid Code Features New Naming Nomenclature

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has published the NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code since 1913. Every three years its requirements are revised based on input from industry and government sectors. This blog highlights the major changes for the 2021 edition. The new code includes a significant change in its nomenclature along with revised sections addressing warehouse and tank storage, as well as piping. A flowchart was added in the annex to assist users interested in navigating chapters that pertain to container storage [including intermediate bulk container (IBC) storage], tank storage, piping, processing, and dispensing. What’s in a name? The 2021 edition of NFPA 30 introduces and emphasizes the term “ignitible liquid” compared to “flammable and combustible liquid.” The terms “flammable and combustible liquid,” have been changed to “ignitible (flammable and combustible) liquid”. This revision does not affect existing code requirements, only the nomenclature used to describe the liquids. The nomenclature was changed for two reasons. The first is that transportation and workplace codes use different flash points for the terms, “flammable” and “combustible.” Different definitions can create user confusion, potentially impair a user’s understanding of a liquid’s fire hazard and impact decisions made to protect against ignitible liquid fires. To clarify the potential for a liquid to produce ignitible vapors, the 2021 edition emphasizes the use of Liquid Class (Class IA, IB, IC, II, IIIA, and IIIB), which are tied to closed cup flash points, or in the case of Class IA and IB liquids, are tied to both the closed cup flash point and the boiling point. The term “flammable liquid” is now defined as a Class I liquid and a “combustible liquid” is defined as a Class II or III liquid. The second reason relates to the potential misconception that the term, “combustible liquid,” implies a lesser fire hazard than compared to fires involving flammable liquids. Full scale fire testing demonstrated that combustible liquids can generate fires that can approach the intensity of those generated with flammable liquids. What’s new in storage? Storage requirements for various ignitible liquids have also been revised. One notable change is that the exemption for beverages, medicines, foodstuffs, cosmetics, and other consumer products containing water-miscible ignitible liquids was lowered from greater than 50 percent by volume to greater than 20 percent by volume. Fire testing on consumer products with greater than 20 percent water-miscible ignitible liquids demonstrated that these commodities are not adequately protected using fire protection measures in NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. Therefore, these products are required to be protected under NFPA 30 requirements. Chapters 12 and 16 were revised based on fire testing with Class IB, IC, II, IIIA and Class IIIB liquids. NFPA 30 Table 12.8.1 which addresses the Liquid-Container Combinations Permitted in a Protected General-Purpose Warehouse was extensively revised. Fire testing demonstrated that the criteria in Chapter 16 of NFPA 30 can effectively control fires involving eight new liquid/storage combinations listed in Table 12.8.1. Six new Chapter 16 fire protection design tables specify requirements for new combinations of liquid classes (or liquids), containers, and storage configurations. Some of these tables reference new Fire Protection Schemes “D”, “E”, and “F” that introduce new storage and sprinkler layouts. What’s going on with tanks and piping now? NFPA 30 now indicates that either water or product can be used for ballast to protect against flooding to provide more flexibility in protecting tanks when a flood is expected. The 2021 edition also specifies the conditions under which anchorage of API 650 tanks is required to prevent sliding or overturning. Two design standards were also added to the list of atmospheric tank standards recognized by NFPA 30 to assists code officials and users. UL142A applies to special purpose aboveground oil and day tanks, while UL 2258 applies to nonmetallic tanks for fuel oils and other combustible liquids.  A new section in the code provides requirements for metallic/nonmetallic composite piping that references two standards. UL 971A covers hybrid composite systems (pipe and fittings) for underground use and UL/ULC 1369, a new standard, addresses above ground pipes constructed with metallic, nonmetallic or composite materials. This summary reflects some of the revisions in the 2021 edition of NFPA 30. As with all NFPA codes and standards, a consensus process was employed so that NFPA 30 is addressing the needs of professionals who deal with ignitible liquids. NFPA 30 is now available in NFPA LiNK™ - the Association’s new information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. NFPA LiNK subscribers will have convenient, digital access to new editions of 300-plus NFPA codes and standards (as they are released/uploaded), previous versions of codes, as well as updates on new helpful features and functions. More information about NFPA LiNK, a timeline of additional codes and standards that will be added, and an introduction video can be found at nfpa.org/LiNK.  
1 2 ... 15

Latest Articles