Topic: Building & Life Safety

Green buildings

Research Foundation webinar on “Fire Safety Challenges of ‘Green’ Buildings and Attributes”

In 2012, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) published a literature review related to fire safety challenges of ‘green’ (sustainable) building materials, systems (technologies) and features. The aim of that work was to: identify documented fire incidents in ‘green’ buildings define a specific set of elements in ‘green’ building design, including configuration and materials, which, without mitigating strategies, increase fire risk, decrease safety or decrease building performance in comparison with ‘traditional’ construction identify and summarize existing best practice case studies in which the risk introduced by specific ‘green’ building design elements has been explicitly addressed and compile research studies related to incorporating building safety, life safety and fire safety as an explicit element in ‘green’ building indices, identifying gaps and specific needed research areas. Since 2012, there have been several major fire events, which involved ‘green’ materials, systems, and features (collectively, ‘green’ attributes) in buildings. Green design features have been associated with photovoltaic panels and roof materials, lightweight timber frame buildings, and combustible insulation materials. This webinar will present highlights from a comprehensive information review of how the landscape of fire safety challenges associated with “green” attributes of buildings has developed since 2012. It is based on a global information search into the following: fire events involving “green” and/or sustainable building materials, systems, and features emerging “green” building materials, systems, and features and research, regulatory changes, engineering approaches, risk mitigation strategies, and firefighting tactics associated with fire challenges with “green” and/or sustainable building materials, systems, and features. While the research is comprehensive in scope, it is not exhaustive in detail, given the extent of advancement in these areas that has occurred since 2012. And, while significant advancements have been made, gaps remain, and strategies for proactively incorporating fire performance into the development of new “green” building materials, systems, and features (product development) are lacking; the tools to proactively assess the fire performance of “green” building materials, systems, and features at the product level (e.g., fire performance testing), and as installed in buildings, are lacking; and a broader building regulatory framework and design philosophy for achieving sustainable and fire resilient (SAFR) buildings are also lacking. The final report from the most recent research effort is available here. Register for this webinar today. Visit www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming NFPA & FPRF webinars and archives. When: Wednesday, April 14, 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Presenters: Brian Meacham, PhD, PE, Meacham Associates, and Margaret McNamee, PhD, Lund University.  This webinar is supported by the Research Foundation 2021 Webinar Series Sponsors: APA – The Engineered Wood Association AXA XL Risk Consulting Johnson Controls Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc. Telgian Engineering and Consulting The Zurich Services Corporation

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.
Gas

Research Foundation webinar recording on “Combustible Gas Dispersion and Detector Location Analysis in Residential Occupancies” is now available

There have been a handful of fuel gas explosions in the last five years including incidents that occurred in three rowhouses in northwest Baltimore in Aug 2020, in the Merrimack region of Massachusetts in 2018, and in Silver Spring Maryland in 2016. Listed fuel gas detectors and alarms exist, but there is no installation standard. Firm requirements are needed for installation of fuel gas detectors in residences and other occupancies. A new NFPA standard, NFPA 715 Standard for the Installation of Fuel Gases Detection and Warning Equipment is currently under development and will cover the selection, design, application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fuel gas detection and warning equipment in buildings and structures. The Fire Protection Research Foundation facilitated a research project on combustible gas dispersion and detector location analysis in residential occupancies. The project was led by a research team at Gexcon US, and the deliverables from the study were presented in the Research Foundation’s most recent webinar on March 10, 2021. The research included a literature review of the existing guidance for combustible gas detector location and installation in residential occupancies, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to clarify and strengthen the technical basis for combustible gas detector installation criteria in residential occupancies. CFD simulations were conducted to quantitatively evaluate gas detector performance as a function of placement in residential occupancies. Natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas releases were simulated in different residential structures, and gas concentrations are tracked at numerous potential detector locations within these structures to evaluate which locations are most effective for reliable and early detection. The full recording of this webinar is now available here. Visit www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming NFPA and FPRF webinars and archives.  
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.  

Strengthening the safety net: a healthy insurance market will help us Outthink Wildfire

A new policy brief by NFPA highlights insurance as a key component required for all of us to collectively Outthink Wildfire™ and eliminate the loss of communities to wildfire in 30 years. NFPA’s recent launch of a bold policy initiative, Outthink Wildfire™, describes five areas we must address to end the wildfire destruction of communities by 2050: making existing homes ignition-resistant; building new structures to safer standards; equipping our fire service with training and protective gear; managing the nation’s fire-prone landscapes; and educating the public on risk reduction. A healthy insurance marketplace is vital to achieving these actions. Property insurance is the primary and largest financial safety net for recovering from disaster-caused property damage, including wildfires. Some 70 million home insurance policies are in force across the country. When wildfires destroy hundreds, even thousands, of homes, the payout of these policies is key to rebuilding communities and reducing the demand on taxpayer-supported disaster relief. Yet many Americans don’t carry enough insurance to allow them to recover after a wildfire. Recent disasters have also meant rising insurance rates in some cases, and denial of insurance coverage for high-risk properties in others. Until the nation’s high-risk areas have many more communities with mitigated homes and safer newly built structures, there is still a significant risk of repeating the multi-billion dollar property losses we have seen in recent wildfire disasters. That’s why people need to understand how important it is to carry enough property insurance to cover their potential losses, and to support the tenets of Outthink Wildfire. To keep insurance affordable, available, and able to help people recover from wildfire disasters, people must take risk reduction steps on private property, and local and state governments must enforce sound land use and construction standards for buildings in high-risk areas. Read NFPA’s latest policy statement on insurance to understand more and visit the Outthink Wildfire webpage to see how these and other actions will go a long way to helping end the loss and suffering of wildfire disasters.
1 2 ... 38

Latest Articles