Author(s): Fred Durso Published on September 1, 2010


THE CODES
Antifreeze + More
NFPA’s Standards Council issues TIAs on antifreeze and gas purging, and issues the 2011 NEC. 

NFPA Journal® , September/October 2010 

By Fred Durso, Jr.

NFPA’s Standards Council has banned the use of antifreeze solution in residential fire sprinkler systems for new construction.

 
AUDIO
  Chris Dubay, NFPA vice president and chief engineer:

 What prompted NFPA's Tentative Interim Amendment on antifreeze?
 What was NFPA's reaction to the initial antifreeze flammability incident?
 The initial research into the incident
 What was learned from additional antifreeze research?
 NFPA's recommendations for new construction?
 What is NFPA's guidance for existing sprinkler systems?
 Next steps?
 What is NFPA's position on residential sprinkler systems?

The Council’s issuance of three Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) prohibits the use of antifreeze solutions in new residential sprinkler systems until further action from the NFPA standards committees. TIAs were issued for NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler SystemsNFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes; and NFPA 13R, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height. All ban the use of antifreeze in new systems.

The move follows a new report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) identifying concerns with certain concentrations of antifreeze solutions in sprinkler systems. The study was prompted by a recent fatal fire incident involving a sprinkler system containing a high-concentration antifreeze solution.

Additionally, NFPA has updated the safety alert on antifreeze use that was issued in July.

"Residential sprinklers remain highly effective at protecting lives and property, but concerns have been raised over the use of antifreeze solutions," says Christian Dubay, NFPA vice president and chief engineer. "The modifications to the alert are directly linked to the actions of the Standards Council, and to the completion of fire testing that provides specific technical data to substantiate the guidance."

For more information on the TIAs and the updated alert, and to review the findings of the FPRF study, visit nfpa.org/antifreeze.

TIA on gas purging  
The Standards Council also expanded the requirements for the outdoor purging of gas piping, as well as for when it can be permitted indoors.

The TIA for NFPA 54, National Fuel Gas Code, includes procedures approved by the NFPA 54 technical committee on restricting purging of gas piping at industrial, large commercial, and large multifamily buildings to outdoor discharge. (To review the final requirements, visit nfpa.org/54.) The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) recently commended the actions of NFPA for its prompt action in addressing the safety concerns.

Additionally, in June, the CSB also provided recommendations to NFPA 54 that proposed the removal of exemptions for power plants and to provide alternatives to performing natural gas blows. These recommendations came after an explosion in February at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown, Connecticut, that caused six deaths and multiple injuries.

At its next meeting in October, the Standards Council will consider revising the scope of NFPA 54 or appointing a new technical committee to develop a separate standard relating to safe gas practices. "NFPA acknowledges the urgency and magnitude of the recommendations," Dubay says. "We would encourage anyone with an interest in this vital safety issue to provide comments on these options." Public comments are due by September 17. For more information, visit nfpa.org/gassafety.

NEC issued
The Standards Council also issued the 2011 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electric Code®, which includes updates on safe battery charging for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and on interconnecting generators, windmills, and solar/fuel cells with other power supplies. "The latest edition of the NEC represents a continued improvement of electrical safety and incorporation of new and emerging technologies," Dubay says.

For a preview of the new NEC, visit necplus.org.


FIRE PREVENTION WEEK 2010

Home Alone—And Safe
Group uses FPW to launch program to cut fire deaths among African-American children 

During Fire Prevention Week 2010, the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABPFF) will launch a new initiative called "No Child Left Alone," an effort to reduce fire deaths among African-American children who are left home alone.

 


An image from the IABFFF's "No Child Left Alone" campaign.

For more on Fire Prevention Week, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.

Fire Prevention Week (firepreventionweek.org) will be held October 3–9.

According to NFPA statistics, the risk of fire death for all African-Americans from 2003 through 2007 was 1.8 times that of the general population of the United States. During this period, 10 percent of all fire fatalities in the country were children under five. Seven percent of white victims were under five, compared to 14 percent of African-American victims. Another 8 percent of all fire fatalities were children 5 to 14 years old. Only 5 percent of the white victims were in this age group, compared to 12 percent of African-American victims.

"We really wanted to develop a sequel to our first program, the ‘Stop Fire, Safe Cooking’ campaign, which we developed a year or two ago, and this seemed to fill a need," said IABPFF President Joseph Muhammad, a lieutenant in the White Plains, New York, Fire Department. "We plan to spread this new campaign the width and breadth of the country, using local IABPFF chapters to unveil it in their cities and partnering with other organizations that see a need for this information."

The IABPFF will implement the campaign with the aid of a USFA grant. The effort is intended to raise fire safety awareness among parents and caregivers in cities with large African-American and Spanish-speaking populations. IABPFF members will introduce the program to their communities using materials that include an educational video, a brochure, and a poster that highlight the dangers of leaving children unsupervised, and will provide other information to help keep children safe from fire. These materials will be translated into Spanish with the help of the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters, according to Muhammad.

"The IABPFF has served NFPA high-risk outreach advisory groups for more than 15 years, providing input to NFPA programs reaching children, older adults, and people living in low-income communities," says Sharon Gamache, program manager of NFPA’s High-Risk Outreach Programs. "They’re an ideal organization to provide the leadership in a program to make sure children are not left home alone without supervision."

You can order "No Child Left Alone" campaign materials from Teresa Everett, IABPFF grant manager, at execdir411@hotmail.com.

— Kathleen Robinson


FIRST PERSON
What I Did for My Summer Internship 

An FPE-in-training recounts life as an NFPA intern, and the moment he was hooked by fire prevention

We asked some of NFPA’s summer interns to tell us what they’ve been up to, and we received this update from Jonathan Hart (pictured), who interned with the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Jonathan, a native of Clinton, Massachusetts, received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in May, and plans to complete his M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering at WPI next May. For more intern updates, visit nfpajournal.org.

 

Scholarship Winners Announced

NFPA’S Fire Safety Educational Memorial Fund Committee recently announced the winners of its 2010 scholarships, awarded each year to recognize students pursuing careers in fire safety.

David Yates, the recipient of the Arthur E. Cote Scholarship, is a junior at the University of Maryland. He is pursuing a combined B.S./M.S. degree in Fire Protection and Nuclear Engineering.

Jamie Stern-Gottfried, a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh, is the recipient of the David B. Gratz Scholarship. He received his M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2004 and has worked for Arup Fire in London. His Ph.D. research involves developing a methodology for determining design fires for structural analysis.

Clayton James is the recipient of the George D. Miller Scholarship. James is pursuing a B.S. degree in Fire Science at the University of Cincinnati. He is the platoon commander and training officer for the Newport Fire Department in Newport, Kentucky, and has worked in the fire service industry for 19 years.

Bryant Hendrickson, a senior at the University of Maryland, is the recipient of the John L. Jablonsky Scholarship. Hendrickson is working toward his M.S. degree in Fire Protection Engineering in the combined B.S./M.S. program.

MORE INTERNS: WHAT I DID FOR MY SUMMER INTERNSHIP

Stephen Jaskolka, a native of Watertown, Massachusetts, is entering his third year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is enrolled in the BS/MS fire protection engineering program at WPI, and is studying chemical engineering. Read more

Matthew Connolly, a native of Corinth, Maine, is entering his third year at Worcester Polytechnic. He is a student in the combined BS/MS fire protection engineering program. Read more.

Buddhi Paranamana, a native of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is entering his fourth year in the BS/MS combined degree program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is pursuing an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics, and a masters degree in fire protection engineering. Read more.

My father has been fire chief in my hometown of Clinton, Massachusetts, for more than 20 years. I vividly remember being at home in our living room one night in December, 1999, and hearing my dad listen to his scanner for information on the Worcester Cold Storage fire, then watching him take off out the door when it was clear things had gone terribly wrong. Later we would learn that six Worcester firefighters had been killed in the fire. I barely saw him over the next week, as he remained at the scene of the fire, doing what he could to help. This was when I really saw how strong the bond is between firefighters, and I knew then that I wanted to somehow be involved in preventing tragedies like that from happening again. I was introduced to fire protection engineering by my high school physics teacher, who was an alumnus of WPI. Once I looked into the program and saw the diverse opportunities available to graduates, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

This summer I was involved with a range of projects at NFPA, including firefighter response to electric vehicle fires, antifreeze concentrations in sprinkler systems, and a survey of fire department usage of water at one- and two-family homes. I spent a lot of time on a project for the Technical Committee on Fire Protection for Nuclear Facilities regarding the fire protection of gloveboxes, enclosures that contain radioactive or other hazardous material and are fitted with long gloves made of rubber-like material that permit manual operations with the contents. The project included a literature review of glovebox-related topics such as fire detection and suppression, ventilation, and nuclear criticality. One of the challenges involved with the review was that much of the research was done in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly in response to two large fires that occurred at the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado. Due to the age of the research, many of the documents proved difficult to locate or access, and many were once classified for various reasons due to the important role gloveboxes played in the production of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Numerous valuable documents were identified by FPEs in the nuclear industry, including NFPA technical committee chairs.

Another major source of this material was the Department of Energy’s (DOE) "Information Bridge" website (www.osti.gov/bridge), which provides free access to PDF versions of documents produced for the DOE. I wrote summaries for each document, and the final deliverable will be a report summarizing more than 100 documents, organized by topic. This collection of research may act as a basis for technical change for consideration by the NFPA Nuclear Facilities Committee and others.

As an FPE, I want to concentrate on consulting. I believe that, with the shift that is occurring from the prescriptive approach to fire protection to a more performance-based approach, there will be a need for more engineers who can creatively find answers to problems. I know that with more properly designed fire protection systems, adherence to the Life Safety Code®, and the adoption of residential sprinkler ordinances, the field of fire protection engineering will continue to prevent life and property loss due to fires.


THE CODES
Summit examines how NFPA codes can address emerging health care trends

Get ready for the future of long-term health care, where patients reside in home-like living quarters, or even their own homes, instead of institutional settings.

That was just one of the emerging trends discussed at the "National Trends in Delivery of Health and Long Term Care: Implications for Safety Codes and Standards" summit, held in Baltimore in July. More than 100 attendees took a closer look at how NFPA’s health care documents and technical committees can address the rapidly changing landscape of how, and where, health care is delivered.
   
"It’s essential that NFPA technical committees keep abreast of changes in society and elsewhere that form the context for fire safety," says Kathleen Almand, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, which cosponsored the summit with NFPA. "This conference was a unique opportunity to bring the health care and fire safety communities together to foster that understanding."

During the two-day event, health care experts gave presentations to committee members, who then formed task groups discussing potential implications to NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, and NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities. NFPA 99 does not apply to home health care, assisted living facilities, and other kinds of care, and the NFPA 99 task group agreed to clarify this distinction in the standard’s application. The concern is that authorities having jurisdiction might not have the resources to enforce regulations at these facilities, says Michael Crowley, who chaired the session on NFPA 99 and is chair of the Committee on Fundamentals for Health Care Facilities. Another group member will submit a request to NFPA’s Standards Council asking for the development of a new project related to home health care. One possibility, says Crowley, is the development of a recommended practice that regulates facilities outside the scope of NFPA 99. Wet locations in operating rooms, requirements for medical gas usage, and defining major and minor injuries in NFPA 99 were also addressed.

The Life Safety Code group pinpointed code concerns related to the trend of long-term care facilities evolving from institution-like settings to more home-like environments. While some newer nursing home designs possess many of the comforts of home — fireplaces, residential-style kitchens and dining areas, and so on—requirements in the Life Safety Code are based on traditional settings that do not provide for those amenities. (For more on these topics, see our "Perspectives" interview on page 17.) Public comments on NFPA 99 and the Life Safety Code must be submitted by September 3 for inclusion in the documents’ Report on Comments, which are made available at nfpa.org.

To view a report on the summit, visit nfpa.org/foundation.

— Fred Durso, Jr.

The First 10,000
NFPA’s Facebook page is a hit with fans 

NFPA’s Facebook page recently observed a milestone when it reached 10,000 "fans" — people who’ve visited the page, like it, and want to receive updates. The site was launched last year as a new platform for NFPA news and outreach.

The rapid growth in the page’s popularity is indicative of social media’s power to communicate effectively with both NFPA members and the broader public, says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s Vice President of Communications. "Social media provides a way for us to reach new audiences with important information, and it offers our current audience more ways to interact with us," Carli says.

"Our Facebook experience shows us that people interested in fire and life safety are tapping into this medium in droves."

The site, facebook.com/theNFPA, hit the 10,000 fans mark the first week of August. To mark the moment, NFPA held a giveaway drawing for a copy of the Fire Protection Handbook®. To enter, fans simply had to leave a comment on the page detailing the information they’d like to see on it. The post received more than 80 comments.

The giveaway was a good example of why the NFPA Facebook page is such a valuable resource. It lets NFPA converse with the fire and life safety community, and through this interaction NFPA can better understand its social-media audience and the information it’s looking for. Facebook and other social media allow NFPA to provide real-time news and updates that other resources can’t.

NFPA’s Facebook page can be accessed by anyone, even if you’re not yet registered on Facebook. Facebook members can receive updates from the NFPA page by becoming a fan — just select the "like" button.

And be sure to check out NFPA’s other social media sites: Twitter at twitter.com/NFPA, and LinkedIn at linkedin.com/companies/nfpa.

— Victoria Haskell

Goodbye and Hello
New officers and members named to Board of Directors, and a longtime member retires 

Vincent Bollon has retired after 20 years on NFPA’s Board of Directors, one of the longest tenures in the organization’s history.

 

 
Vincent Bollon.

 Read NFPA President Jim Shannon's farewell to Vincent Bollon

 Read an interview with Tom Jaeger, the new incoming chair of NFPA's Board of Directors

A former New York City firefighter, Bollon was recently re-elected Board treasurer before announcing his retirement in June. Board member H. Wayne Boyd, president and CEO of the U.S. Safety & Engineering Corp., took over the treasurer spot, while Board member Randolph W. Tucker, a Texas-based engineering consultant, assumed Boyd’s former post of secretary.

Serving as the new Board chair is Thomas W. Jaeger, who has sat on various NFPA technical committees and on the Standards Council from 1980–1989. He’s the founder of Jaeger and Associates, a fire protection engineering consulting firm.

Philip C. Stittleburg, fire chief for La Farge, Wisconsin, was elected first vice chair, and Ernest J. Grant, an outreach nurse clinician with the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, is second vice chair.

New to the board is Dean L. Seavers, president of global services for UTC Fire and Security; Donald R. Cook, current chair of the National Electric Code® Panel 10 and chief electrical inspector for Shelby County Building Inspections in Alabama; and Ned Pettus, Jr., fire chief of Columbus, Ohio.

Officers and members were elected at the recent NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

— Fred Durso, Jr.


 

SIDEBAR
What I did On My Summer Internship 

One important project I worked on this summer was for Guy Colonna on dust explosions. I had to look through NFPA, 61, NFPA 484, NFPA 654, NFPA 655, and NFPA 664 regarding dust explosions and compare the similarities and differences between them. The point of this task was to provide proof to each of the committees on the reasons why there should be one uniform NFPA document on dust explosions. This made sense to me, because I noticed a lot of repetitiveness and similarities between the documents. In my opinion it makes more sense to have one comprehensive document for people to buy instead of having to look through multiple documents. With this project, I felt that I gained a better understanding on how the NFPA standards are organized. I'd used NFPA codes and standards for class projects at WPI, but I never understood the process of how these codes and standards came into existence, or the political nature of that process.

Another interesting project I was involved with was the archive project for Debbie Baio and Sue Marsh. This project required me to upload ROPs and ROCs, dating all the way back to NFPA's beginning. It was very interesting to follow the history of NFPA, and to see how different world events had impacted the organization. I believe all of us interns assigned to this project made a huge contribution toward a goal that NFPA has wanted to achieve for some time. The importance of this type of project will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Throughout the summer, I became more knowledgeable about the field of fire protection engineering and all of the opportunities it has to offer. After a couple of weeks at NFPA, I was surprised to discover that I was working under some of the most influential people in the fire protection industry. Almost everyone who uses the NFPA standards on a daily basis knows the NFPA staff, as their names can be found on all the handbooks and code books. I met a lot of people who work in the field as researchers, consultants, or inspectors, and as a result I have done more networking during this summer internship than I ever expected was possible. Perhaps the most important thing I learned this summer was to always keep an open mind, and to be open to different points of view.

 

SIDEBAR
What I Did For My Summer Internship 

My uncle is a firefighter, and like most people who have a relative in the fire service, I've always respected this line of work. Through most of high school, I thought I'd become a firefighter; I was attracted by the teamwork and physical demands, the nature of fighting fire, and the idea that every day you show up to protect people. At the same time, though, I loved a lot of subjects in school that demanded creating logical solutions using math and science. This passion, combined with the understanding of the risks that firefighters face, led me to a career in fire protection. I want to design systems and gear that protect those who are victimized by fires, and that protect the people who risk their lives fighting fires. I also hope to pursue firefighting as a volunteer, alongside my work as a fire protection engineer.

I've been doing everything I can to learn more about firefighting, and have been doing ride-alongs with Station 3 in Worcester, Massachusetts, on night shifts. Last summer I was able to visit the smoke jumpers facility in Missoula, Montana, to learn about a type of firefighting that is not as common in New England. I firmly believe that, to design the best firefighting equipment, I will need to understand the people and the nature of the work they do.

This summer I interned with NFPA's Building Fire Protection and Life Safety (BFPLS) Department. Working here has given me a valuable perspective of the fire protection industry. In class, I have used the codes and standards, but I never understood the mechanics of the process, and the integrated network behind them. While I am by no means an expert on NFPA or the major codes covered by BFPLS, I am now far more competent.

With two other interns, I worked on a project that is creating a new codes and standards archiving system on the NFPA website. This project involves the posting and restructuring of the format in which all Report On Proposals and Report On Comments-of every document for each edition since their creation- are documented. This will make the history of our codes and standards more easily accessible for our members online. I also worked on the boilerplate (standardization) project for the terms "equivalency" and "retroactivity"-due to the many variations of definitions available for these terms in our codes and standards, there has been question about whether or not they should become boilerplate terms-as well as preparatory work for this summer's APPA conference in Boston, assisting with the Veterans' Affairs Fire Protection Design Manual, and cross analysis of various documents for topics ranging from green roofing to flammability of synthetic materials in health care smoking areas.

While these projects have taught me a lot about navigating the codes and understanding the language, the most meaningful experiences that I've had this summer have been the ones where I was able to sit down and talk with the engineers and support staff at NFPA. Those conversations shed light on consulting and the fire protection industry as a whole, and touched on important aspects such as work ethic and earning respect in this industry. Talking with some of the younger engineers on staff gave me great insight into what it's like for a recent FPE graduate to step into the fire industry as an NFPA employee. I have a much deeper understanding of how to work with a code, of the committee process, and of the organization's contributions to the world of fire protection. It is amazing to me how, in a world where profit is often one of the single most significant factors, a committee of people with various interests can work together and create a product that will provide the highest level of safety.

NFPA's interns also had a chance to learn about related industries. I visited FM Global to see a fire test, allowing me to learn more about the research and insurance industry. I also traveled to Tyco, and learn more about their manufacturing and research & development divisions. At these facilities, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss my career goals with engineers and executives. They talked to me about ways I could pursue my passion for firefighting and humanitarian work while being a fire protection engineer, whether it be in consulting or research. From these conversations and many others, I have learned about the different career paths that people throughout the industry, including NFPA, have taken to reach their current positions. They've also helped me think more about how the things that I value in life, such as having a family and taking satisfaction in my work, will affect the choices I made in my own career.

SIDEBAR
What I Did For My Summer Internship 

My first project this summer involved NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code. I created the comparison table that's added to the back of the code's handbook. The table details the changes between the current edition and the new edition-in this case, the 2011 version of the code. I worked with Ted Lemoff, principal gases engineer at NFPA, who was always helpful and willing to teach me new things about the NFPA codes and standards process. There were many times during this project where I had questions about how NFPA creates codes, and Ted would explained the various processes of creating a code, how the committee functions, and how the code is maintained to standard.

I worked on a couple of other projects as well. My computer background was helpful with the projects I worked on with NFPA's information science department. I was able to be part of a new, computerized marine chemist certificate system, for example, and I was involved in the historic document archive. NFPA has a library of such documents that date to the organization's founding in 1896. The idea of this project was to archive digital versions of all the ROPs, ROCs, TCRs, and TCDs. This was a great way to preserve the historical documentation.

Working with NFPA allowed me to interact with many individuals in the FPE field. I met individuals who were consultants before, or in the research field, and by talking to these people I was able to get a great insight into what type of variations FPE has to offer. I also attended a few committee training sessions and a Standards Council meeting. This also allowed me to meet individuals in a variety of FPE related fields. Towards the end of my internship I was able to attend a live fire test at the FM Global research facility in Rhode Island. This is definitely a great experience for me, since it was my first. The test was done to analyze the fire hazards caused by HVLS (high-volume low-speed) fans.

What interests me about FPE is that even though organizations such as NFPA have been around for decades, there is still a lot that needs to be done in the area of fire protection. Fire, whether it's destructive or productive, is extremely unpredictable, which is what makes it such a challenge. My first encounter with FPE was as part of a project at WPI that included two professors from the Fire Protection Engineering Department at WPI. After working with them, I decided to pursue a masters in FPE. I hope to work in the area of consulting.

My experience at NFPA was remarkable not because of the type of projects I was involved in, but because of the people I had the chance to work with and meet. Working with such prominent figures in the FPE field was a great opportunity. Understanding how NFPA manages its codes and standards development process was something I would never have comprehended if it weren't for this opportunity. What I learned and the people I met will help me in years to come.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700