The News From Boston
NFPA Journal®, July/August 2011
By Fred Durso, Jr.
Voting members at NFPA’s Association Technical Meeting accepted 16 documents, including NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities, and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®. The meeting was held June 14–15 as part of NFPA’s Conference & Expo in Boston.
Certified amending motions to two documents — NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery, and NFPA 484, Combustible Metals — were withdrawn by the submitter. Both documents will be forwarded to the Standards Council for issuance as consent documents or other action.
The meeting also made a bit of history: for the first time, the Association Technical Meeting was forced to end before members could consider all motions on the floor. On the last day of the meeting, voting members considered, and rejected, three motions to NPFA 70E®, Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, the final document being considered that day. A quorum was then called, but the number of voting members in attendance was below the number required by NFPA regulations. The remaining motions were not made because the meeting was halted, according to Amy Cronin, division manager for NFPA’s Codes and Standards Administration and Standards Council
A smoke alarm’s constant beeping may not be enough to stir children from slumber.
The findings are part of a report titled “Community-Based Research on the Effectiveness of the Home Smoke Alarm in Waking Up Children,” by Dorothy Bruck and I.R. Thomas, researchers at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. The report was recently published in the journal Fire and Materials and is available online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fam.1081/abstract.
Of the 27 children who awoke, the report states that 60 percent of them identified the sound as a smoke alarm, but less than half knew they should leave the house. Even if children don’t have an immediate reaction to the sound, parents might, which is why the report recommends interconnected alarms that sound throughout a home when one is triggered. However, a 2009 NFPA study, Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires, indicates that a majority of households lack these types of alarms.
The recent findings also indicate no correlation between late risers and child fire deaths. According to NFPA’s report, there is no evidence that children have higher fire death rates because of their inability to wake from a smoke alarm. However, NFPA suggests taking safety precautions that include developing a fire escape plan and designating light-sleeping adults to wake children in the event of an alarm.
“Parents or caregivers should know in advance how their children will respond to a smoke alarm at night,” says Sharon Gamache, program director for NFPA’s High-Risk Outreach Programs. “In order to know this, they need to practice and modify their escape plan. If a child does not awake from the smoke alarm when you practice at night, a family member should be prepared to wake them.”
By Fred Durso, Jr.
NFPA’s Professional Qualifications (Pro-Qual) Project oversees 18 NFPA standards that cover specific training and professional competencies for emergency responders, ranging from accreditation and certification of fire service professionals to job performance requirements for emergency vehicle technicians. However, there have been recent challenges in harmonizing the documents’ provisions with the national programs and stakeholders that use them. For instance, multiple NFPA technical committees are involved with different aspects of professional qualifications, and it can be difficult to coordinate the focus and interests of those committees.
To address this issue, NFPA in April hosted a two-day Pro-Qual “Now and Beyond Workshop” for fire and emergency services. The goal of the interactive workshop, which was held in Irving, Texas, was to establish a common understanding of how elements of a national professional qualifications system and applicable NFPA standards could best suit all stakeholders. “Through this workshop, we were able to zero in on what the concerns were and move forward while not losing sight of the intent of the documents,” says Tom McGowan, staff liaison for the Technical Committees on Professional Qualifications and NFPA 7 Technical Committee on Hazardous Materials Response Personnel.
NFPA staff, committee members, and fire service and emergency response organizations at the event outlined 20 recommendations addressing these key concerns. They include the coordination of technical committees, further information on specific job performance requirements expressly for hazardous materials, NFPA document processing, and a periodic review of issues related to professional qualifications. The recommendations report, prepared by the Fire Protection Research Foundation and available at nfpa.org/proqual, will be presented to NFPA’s Standards Council during its meeting in August.
By Jon Palmer
As electric and hybrid vehicle popularity and use expand, what is being done with codes and standards to keep the emerging technology safe?
That question will be addressed when NFPA and SAE International, a global association made up of experts in the aerospace, automotive, and commercial-vehicle industries, co-sponsor the 2nd Annual Electric Vehicle Safety Summit September 27–28. The event will be held at the Marriott Detroit Renaissance Center Hotel in Detroit, Michigan.
The summit will bring together key stakeholders involved in the electric vehicle (EV) field. Those encouraged to participate include safety representatives from vehicle manufacturers, fire protection specialists, electrical safety organizations, and emergency responders, as well as federal, state, and local government officials.
It is the goal of NFPA and SAE to ensure that codes and standards development keeps up with developments in the electric vehicle field. “Hybrid-electric and electric vehicles continue to proliferate on our roadways, and it is important to build on the positive progress now occurring in the safety infrastructure,” says Christian Dubay, P.E., NFPA vice-president for Codes and Standards and chief engineer. “We need to remain vigilant in our pursuit of safety on behalf of consumers and emergency responders while working closely with all who are trying to advance this important new technology.”
Dave Baxter, SAE Motor Vehicle Council chair, says he’s looking forward to hosting an event “that brings together key stakeholders to identify the necessary standards-development activities and associated deployment strategies.”
The goal of this year’s summit is to continue the dialogue established at last year’s event, where three areas were selected for development: vehicle charging infrastructure, battery hazards identification and protection, and training for emergency responders. “This year, we clearly have the focus of ‘what have we done so far?’ We want to see what progress has been made and build on it,” says Casey Grant, P. E., program director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF).
One aspect of the infrastructure issue that will be addressed is the changes necessary to NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, regarding EV charging. In the area of battery safety, Grant says one of the big questions is about the support safety measures for the batteries, including their storage and transportation. “There have been some major events involving these batteries, and responders don’t know how to fight these particular types of fires,” Grant says. The FPRF, an affiliate of NFPA, is nearly finished with a research project on lithium ion battery storage, one of the topics that will be discussed at the summit.
NFPA is also midway through a three-year, Department of Energy-sponsored program to develop EV training for emergency responders. NFPA has also developed a self-paced, online Chevrolet Volt emergency responder training course and an EV quick reference manual for emergency responders scheduled for release in September and has conducted several EV training courses across the country.
More information about the September summit can be found at evsafetytraining.org/summit or at sae.org/events/nevss. Summit registration information will be available at a later date. To learn more about electric vehicles, visit evsafetytraining.org or sae.org/nevss.
NFPA has developed and launched a new Certificate of Educational Achievement program allowing NFPA seminar attendees to further validate their code knowledge and earn additional Continuing Education Units.
NFPA has expanded six of its essential fire and life safety seminars by an additional day, to include a review session and self-assessment exercises, followed by an exam for attendees to demonstrate their ability to understand and apply what they have learned. Upon successful completion, attendees receive their Certificate of Educational Achievement, confirming their understanding of each topic.
Available topics, which will be presented at locations across the country, include:
NFPA continues to offer Certificates of Educational Achievement for NFPA 70E®, Electrical Safety in the Workplace; NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®; NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities; and the SOC for the Joint Commission™ Compliance Seminar.
For more information and to register, visit nfpatraining.org/certificates, or call 800-344-3555.
This summer, applicants to the Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program (AFG) will have free access to 27 NFPA codes and standards addressing equipment, training, and operating procedures for first responders. Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), AFG provides financial assistance to fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations to meet their emergency response needs.
“With online access to the relevant NFPA codes at no cost, applicants will be able to more fully insure their applications are meeting the goal of the AFG program, which is to enhance first responder safety and survival,” says Ken Willette, NFPA’s division manager for Public Fire Protection.
Congress appropriated $405 million, including $35 million for fire prevention and safety, to AFG this fiscal year, up $15 million from last fiscal year. The number of applicants last year surpassed 16,000, but only 2,900 of them have been slated to receive grant funding.
FEMA anticipates its grant application process will begin sometime in mid-July. For more information and free access to NFPA’s codes during the AFG application period, visit nfpa.org/nfpaafg2011.
— Fred Durso, Jr.