The News from Vegas
NEC and a major sprinkler standard are among 13 documents acccepted at the Association Technical Meeting, while a combustible dust standard is returned
Voting members at the 2010 Association Technical Meeting in June in Las Vegas considered 15 documents, accepting 13 with amendments and returning two. Among those accepted were NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, and NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® — following discussions of three-and-a-half and nearly five hours, respectively. Other documents accepted include:
- NFPA 18, Standard on Wetting Agents;
- NFPA 45, Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals;
- NFPA 53, Recommended Practice on Materials, Equipment, and Systems Used in Oxygen-Enriched Atmospheres;
- NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code;
- NFPA 86, Standard for Ovens and Furnaces;
- NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations;
- NFPA 214, Standard on Water-Cooling Towers;
- NFPA 276, Standard Method of Fire Tests for Determining the Heat Release Rate of Roofing Assemblies with Combustible Above-Deck Roofing Components;
- NFPA 303, Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards;
- NFPA 502, Standard for Road Tunnels, Bridges, and Other Limited Access Highways;
- and NFPA 505, Fire Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks Including Type Designations, Areas of Use, Conversions, Maintenance, and Operations.
Two documents — NFPA 204, Smoke and Heat Venting, and NFPA 654, Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids — will not be issued and were returned to their committees for further discussion.
For the final report on the floor action on Certified Amending Motions at the Association Technical Meeting, visit www.nfpa.org/techsession.
Conference Award Winners
John J. O’Sullivan won this year’s Paul C. Lamb Award, given for volunteer service. O’Sullivan was fire protection manager at British Airways for 18 years, and is now principal technical fire consultant for Bureau Veritas UK & Ireland.
The recipient of this year’s Standards Medal, the highest award given by NFPA’s Standards Council, is the late George Flach, chief electrical inspector for the City of New Orleans. The Council also recognized William H. Barlen, Dale E. Dressel, and Peter J. Willse with its Special Achievement Awards.
Duke University/Duke Health System Fire Safety Division won the Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention Week Award.
The recipients of the Harry C. Bigglestone Award for Excellence in Communication of Fire Protection Concepts were Paul Mason, Charles Fleischmann, Chris Rogers, Alan McKinnon, Keith Unsworth, and Michael Spearpoint.
The International Fire Marshals Association presented Michael Love of Montgomery County, Maryland, with the International Fire Marshals Association Meritorious Service Award.
One Dutchman’s mission to spread NFPA’s message around the globe
Tom de Nooij will talk to anyone, which is why Cheryl Green-Pozner, NFPA’s director of Business Development and Professional Development, jumped at the chance to pick his brain during a 2008 seminar at NFPA’s Massachusetts headquarters.
De Nooij, left, offers a token of thanks to NFPA’s Cheryl Green-Pozner and Mark Schofield, at right. Pictured with de Nooij is Dave Hazel, a colleague at Marsh.
For more on NFPA seminars, visit www.nfpa.org/seminars.
"Cheryl asked me, ‘If NFPA were to do seminars in Europe, which country and place should we pick?’" says de Nooij, who lives in the Netherlands and who works for Marsh, a risk and insurance services company with international clientele. "I told her Amsterdam, and offered to help her out with that. A lot of people say it’s too expensive to fly over to the U.S. for an NFPA seminar, so I knew there was a lot of interest."
Assisted by NFPA’s Professional Development and Marketing departments, de Nooij (pronounced de-NOY) has initiated NFPA seminars and furthered the fire safety message in major European cities. After his initial encounter with Green-Pozner, de Nooij attended another meeting with NFPA staff later that year to discuss implementing seminars on NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, NFPA 20, Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, and NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. De Nooij says he’s aware of companies offering courses on such NFPA sprinkler standards in the Netherlands but questions their credibility, since they aren’t led by NFPA-certified instructors.
"Tom wanted to offer [the seminars] not only to his Marsh risk engineers but also to the public, including authorities having jurisdiction and competing insurers, because he’s a real advocate for NFPA’s fire safety codes," Green-Pozner says.
De Nooij’s wish was granted. He organized two sold-out seminars covering all three standards to 80 people in Amsterdam in the spring of 2009, and helped NFPA fill two other seminars in London and Frankfurt around the same time, with NFPA supplying the instructors for all the events. "Marsh has offices in all European countries and we know who the sprinkler contractors are," de Nooij says. "We know who the inspectors are. Our own network is spreading the news to get [the seminars] filled." De Nooij orchestrated another sprinkler seminar in Madrid last December, and has others planned in Paris and the Netherlands this year. African and Indian cities are next on his list.
Mark Schofield, division manager for NFPA’s Professional Development Department, praised de Nooij’s efforts and attributes the interest to a growing awareness of NFPA overseas. In 2009, Schofield says, more than 700 people attended NFPA seminars in Japan, Singapore, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and European countries, and 1,500 people attended seminars in Latin America. "In 2000, we did a seminar or two in Latin America, but to grow to 50, that’s huge," Schofield says. "People are finding out that our codes are so valuable."
As one of those people, de Nooij, also a volunteer watch commander with his local fire department, has been drawn to other NFPA efforts. With support from NFPA staff, he’s in the process of implementing a new seminar geared toward training fire prevention officers in the Netherlands and has organized a burn demonstration this September in the Netherlands to demonstrate the benefits of residential sprinklers.
"I really enjoy spreading the NFPA word," de Nooij says of his motivation. "I’m not employed by NFPA. It’s just fun."
— Fred Durso, Jr.
IAFC chief voices support for NFPA’s residential sprinkler push
Jeff Johnson is a big fan of residential sprinklers and isn’t afraid to say so.
Johnson, president and chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), commended NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative (FSI) in a recent edition of The Daily Dispatch, the association’s e-newsletter reaching 30,000 fire service members.
For information on conducting burn demonstrations in your community or to view NFPA’s new map that tracks sprinkler legislation around the country, visit www.firesprinklerinitiative.org.
Johnson’s missive, published in the May 11 edition, "strongly urges" readers to visit the initiative’s website, www.firesprinklerinitiative.org, and "take action…to bring safety home."
"The fire chiefs are supporting this initiative because we understand what a dramatic difference having residential fire sprinklers makes to people’s safety," Johnson told NFPA Journal. "The fire chiefs will stand alongside this organized effort to make sure we get [such legislation] adopted."
Johnson’s endorsement set the stage for a move by the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association just days later, when the group passed a unanimous resolution expressing support for FSI, among other initiatives. Launched last year, the Fire Sprinkler Initiative campaign promotes code adoptions and local legislation requiring sprinklers in one- and two-family dwellings.
Johnson believes residential sprinklers are "a no-brainer, life safety issue," and he describes as "disturbing" the state-by-state battles between anti-sprinkler homebuilders and initiative advocates. "We have some real meaningful issues to fix, not least of which is eliminating the upcharge that some local governments are imposing for the installation of residential sprinklers in the form of a system development fee," he says. "In some municipalities, that upcharge can be $5,000 to $8,000."
Johnson says the IAFC community has overwhelmingly backed his stance on NFPA’s campaign. "We’re very pleased to see Chief Johnson’s endorsement of the Fire Sprinkler Initiative, and we look forward to working with IAFC members on these important sprinkler mandates," says Gary Keith, NFPA’s vice president of Field Operations. A recent victory occurred in Wilmette, Illinois, where lawmakers passed an ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes built with lightweight construction.
Other advocates across the country are putting sprinklers to the test. Michigan fire departments partnered with the state’s Fire Inspectors Society and Fire Team USA to host a side-by-side burn demonstration in Ypsilanti on May 12 (pictured, top). As part of a fire safety conference, the event featured two furnished rooms, one of which was protected by residential sprinklers. Texas fire officials will host a similar demonstration at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on July 3.
— Fred Durso, Jr.
Sound the Alarm
This year’s Fire Prevention Week keeps fire detection devices — and shrinking budgets — in mind
If money is a concern for you this year, don’t worry.
NFPA is offering a wealth of free material for its 88th annual Fire Prevention Week (FPW), October 3–9. New additions to the website, www.firepreventionweek.org, and NFPA’s child-friendly Sparky® the Fire Dog website, www.sparky.org, complement online favorites such as the fire escape planning grid and how-to guides on fire drills and smoke alarm installation — the latter tying in nicely with this year’s FPW theme of "Smoke alarms: A sound you can live with."
"Because budgets are so tight, education is usually one of the first things cut," says Amy LeBeau, communications manager for NFPA’s Public Education Division. "We wanted to make sure everyone still has a successful campaign even if they didn’t have the budget to buy products."
Through an expanded partnership with Scholastic, the global publishing and education company for children, NFPA aims to spread the FPW message to a record six million children and 375,000 teachers nationwide. In October, Scholastic will send schools free FPW newsletters, Sparky® posters, and lesson plans tailored to fire safety. "It’s unbelievable that we’ll be reaching this many kids and teachers at one time," LeBeau says.
On the FPW website, educators can access the new preschool lesson plan instructing students to identify and respond to smoke alarms. (NFPA also produces lesson plans for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.) The new smoke alarm safety sheet includes a checklist urging families to test smoke alarms each month, while child-friendly pictorials on Sparky’s® website illustrate how to exit a building during an alarm.
Effectively responding to the "beeps" is only half the battle, though. NFPA statistics indicate that home fires killed 2,755 people in 2008, and nearly two-thirds of these deaths occurred in dwellings with nonworking or nonexistent smoke alarms. Such fatalities are why NFPA is touting the installation of interconnected photoelectric alarms (responsive to smoldering fires) and ionization alarms (responsive to flaming fires), especially in every bedroom. Two new public service announcements on the FPW website instruct viewers to replace smoke detectors every 10 years.
"Our statistics say that we have a lot of work to do," says Judy Comoletti, director of NFPA’s Public Education Division. "We need to continue to get the word out about smoke alarms because they are an important part of the home-safety strategy."
— Fred Durso, Jr.
NFPA’s Gamache, Hall honored
For most fire-safety educators, orchestrating the delivery of 20,000 smoke alarms to Native Americans isn’t everyday work—but it is for Sharon Gamache, NFPA’s senior program manager for High-Risk Outreach Programs. "Their fire death risk is very high," Gamache says of the Navajos, who received the alarms from 2004 through 2007.
Sharon Gamache and John Hall.
Gamache, who has made a career of serving groups prone to fire-related injuries and death, was recently named the winner of this year’s Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education, given annually by the Home Safety Council. Established in 2007, the award honors Phillips, a pioneer in fire safety who recognized the importance of mitigating injuries and death through fire prevention.
Recipients are selected each year from the suggestions of previous award winners. Gamache received the award in April in Washington, D.C.
"Sharon is deeply involved in helping impact the lives of people who didn’t have a voice or might not have the power to change things on their own," says Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. "She’s always been advocating for folks who tend to slip through the cracks in our society."
Before joining NFPA, Gamache was a community organizer in St. Paul, Minnesota, and manager of the National Safety Council’s Community Safety Programs, which focused on pedestrian safety and related issues. In 1989, she became executive director of NFPA’s Learn Not to Burn Foundation and soon carved out a mission to reach high-risk groups—young children, older adults, low-income residents, and people with disabilities. As project director for NFPA’s Learn Not to Burn® Preschool Program, she oversaw the development of songs, games, and activities that teach children fire and burn prevention behaviors in various languages. She also oversees fire-safety initiatives for rural communities and urban areas.
"It’s been a personal mission, as well as a work mission, to reach high-risk groups," Gamache says. "It’s been a privilege for 21 years to be able to work in something I believe in so strongly."
Hall receives ASTM merit award
John Hall, director of NFPA’s Fire Analysis and Research Division, recently received the ASTM International Award of Merit, the most prestigious honor given by the organization.
Hall joined ASTM, a consensus standards development organization, in 1987 on NFPA’s behalf.
He is fifth vice chair for ASTM’s Committee E05 on Fire Standards, which develops standards for tests and other methods of evaluation of fire performance, primarily as applied to burnable products. ASTM honored Hall in 1995 and 2005 with "awards of appreciation," and again in 2004 with the Wayne P. Ellis Award, which recognizes Committee E05 members for their contributions to fire standards. Hall, who also serves as a chair and secretary of two E05 subcommittees, was selected for his latest award by Award of Merit winners, based on nominations from fellow committee members.
"Having been for several years the chair of the awards sub-committee," he says, "I have an appreciation for how important this award is and I feel appropriately honored."
— Fred Durso, Jr.