NFPA’s wildfire blog keeps close tabs on Colorado’s most destructive wildfire.
By Fred Durso, Jr.
THE RECENT BLACK FOREST FIRE
is now the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history in terms of the number of homes destroyed. At least 500 homes burned in an area northeast of Colorado Springs, and two people lost their lives preparing to evacuate. It was only a year ago that another blaze in the Colorado Springs area, the Waldo Canyon Fire, claimed the top spot among the state’s most destructive wildfires.
As wildfires intensify, keeping abreast of pertinent information has become critical for residents, safety personnel, media, and others. Since the start of the Black Forest Fire, NFPA’s wildfire safety blog, Fire Break
, has provided an array of resources, including a digital map pinpointing the wildfire’s movement and locations of nearby Firewise
communities. Blog posts also outlined the importance of mitigation and the Ready, Set, Go! Program, which is managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and offers information on preparedness and evacuation. In an audio post, NFPA staff member Molly Mowery discusses the Fire Adapted Communitie
s coalition and benefits of preparation during a recent interview with a Colorado radio station. Other entries offered personal anecdotes about the fire from NFPA staff.
“My colleague Cathy Prudhomme and I were [in Black Forest] on May 4 in support of the Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service,” wrote Michele Steinberg, program manager for NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program, in a post on June 12, when about 100 homes had been lost and when officials voiced fears that many more would burn as conditions deteriorated and the fire grew. (For more on the event, see “Service with a smile,” below.) “As I learned of the fire, I wondered how many of the people I had met and places I had visited would be affected. I also reflected on the fact that so many people kept fire in mind and were willing to set aside a day or more of their time to reduce the risk.”
Follow the blog at wildfire.blog.nfpa.org
Service with a smile
NFPA recently questioned more than 100 students living in wildfire-prone areas about youth involvement in wildfire mitigation and preparation. Their responses indicated a desire to help, even if they didn’t know what opportunities existed in their community.
Responding to this concern, NFPA partnered with five other organizations, including the American Red Cross and the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, to host the Wildfire Preparedness Day of Service on May 4, which linked volunteers of all ages with community service projects. Nearly 600 residents participated in 16 projects throughout Colorado to reduce wildfire risks. The Northeast Teller County Fire Department, for example, worked with two recognized Firewise communities and the Colorado State Forest Service, another event partner, to educate residents on Firewise concepts. Teens also assisted Red Cross volunteers in filling sand bags distributed to residents as protection against flooding stemming from last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire.
“There were some goose bumps after witnessing the social capital that communities generate when they work together to improve local issues,” says Cathy Prudhomme, NFPA’s associate program manager for Wildland Fire Youth Education, who oversaw the event. “We met volunteers of all ages donating their time and talents, and marveled at their sense of pride and accomplishment.”
NFPA hopes to produce similar events nationwide in 2014. For more on the 2013 event, please visit the Fire Break blog at wildfire.blog.nfpa.org
ANNUAL MEETING 2013
Votes of Confidence
Members accept the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code and other documents at the Association Technical Meeting. Plus, award winners are spotlighted at NFPA’s Conference & Expo.
By Fred Durso, Jr. and Kathleen Robinson
Voting members heard debates on more than three dozen certified amending motions (CAMs) to NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®
(NEC®), at NFPA’s Association Technical Meeting held June 12–13 in Chicago. Only documents receiving CAMs were considered at the meeting; all other documents were submitted to NFPA’s Standards Council for issuance as consent documents.
At the meeting, an NEC hot topic brought to the floor was the appropriate thickness of concrete required to protect electrical conductors and necessary for a two-hour fire rating. The NEC currently requires a two-inch thickness, but some speakers argued that a four-inch thickness is needed to obtain this level of protection. Voting members passed, then rejected, a CAM regarding the thickness of the concrete protection for fire pumps, emergency generators, and critical operations power systems. The net result after much discussion was that the two-inch concrete requirement would remain in the code.
There were also two CAMs submitted on the placement of conductors on rooftops of commercial and industrial facilities. The NEC lists requirements for raceways and cables. Research has indicated that exposure to direct sunlight might make a raceway hotter than its ambient temperature, and the code lists temperature values, or “adders,” to the ambient temperature that prevent conduit damage at the standard temperature. The use of a specific type of insulation, XHHW-2, had been granted an exemption from the temperature adders. After much debate over the two CAMs, the net result was that the narrow exemption would be maintained in the 2014 NEC pending technical committee balloting.
Other documents that were accepted at the Technical Meeting included:
Conference Award Winners
- NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems;
- NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code;
- NFPA 96, Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations;
- NFPA 130, Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems;
- NFPA 502, Road Tunnels, Bridges, and Other Limited Access Highways;
- NFPA 801, Fire Protection for Facilities Handling Radioactive Materials;
- NFPA 1061, Professional Qualifications for Public Safety Telecommunications Personnel;
- NFPA 1123, Fireworks Display; and
- NFPA 1851, Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.
Philip J. DiNenno, president of Hughes Associates, Inc., received the 2013 Standards Medal
in recognition of his outstanding contributions to fire safety and the development of NFPA codes and standards. DiNenno, who currently serves on NFPA’s Board of Directors, has also served on many NFPA technical committees, including Gaseous Fire Extinguishing Systems, Merchant Vessels, Water Mist Fire Suppression Systems, Halon Alternative Protection Options, Fire Investigations, and Fire Tests. He also served on the NFPA Standards Council from 1998 to 2007, and chaired the council from 2002 to 2007.
Kristopher Overholt and Ofodike (D.K.) Ezekoye received the 2013 Harry C. Bigglestone Award for Excellence in Communication of Fire Protection Concepts
for their paper, “Characterizing Heat Release Rates Using an Inverse Fire Modeling Technique,” published in NFPA’s quarterly peer-reviewed journal Fire Technology. Overholt is a graduate student in civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, where Ezekoye is a professor in the mechanical engineering department.
Dow Corning Company’s Songjiang plant in Shanghai, China, was awarded NFPA’s 2012 Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention Week Award
. This award recognizes businesses that promote fire and related safety messages to its employees and their communities during the 2012 Fire Prevention Week. The award honors David Hanson and his team for its “Have 2 Ways Out” training initiative, which highlighted training and drills via a website and brochure, and posters and banners displaying fire prevention themes throughout the plant.
Tracy Koslowski, public education/information manager of the Drexel Heights Fire District in Tucson, Arizona, was named 2013 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year
. Koslowski oversees her district’s public education programs while performing fire marshal duties. She has pioneered innovative fire safety outreach programs to address all-terrain vehicle crashes, preteen and teenage fitness and fire preparedness, wheeled sports safety, and child passenger safety.
The paper “Determination of Fire Hose Friction Loss Characteristics” won the 2013 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal
, which recognizes a Research Foundation project that best exemplifies the Foundation’s mission. Co-authored by Joseph L. Scheffey, director of R&D at Hughes Associates, the paper addresses the problem of calculating friction loss in fire hoses.
Call for 2014 Education Presentations
Las Vegas hosts the next Conference & Expo, June 9–12, 2014, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. NFPA is seeking proposals for education sessions at the conference. To submit proposals online by the September 16 deadline, visit nfpa.org/conference
Safety Gets Energized
New websites underscore electrical hot topics and promote the upcoming edition of the National Electrical Code
NFPA’s Standards Council is expected to issue the 2014 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®
(NEC®), in August, which has prompted safety experts to band together to push for increased compliance and use of the code.
NFPA and nine other organizations have formed the Electrical Code Coalition (ECC), which promotes the adoption of the latest edition of the NEC through a series of tools available on its recently launched website, electricalcodecoalition.org
. The site features an interactive map that tracks NEC adoption in all 50 states. An “adoption support kit” offers technical documents, supporting manuscripts, and contact information for promulgating agencies and electrical safety advocates. NFPA also provides free, read-only versions of the NEC.
“Expanded use of the most current edition of the NEC is central to improving electrical safety,” says Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International, an ECC member. “The new resources help stakeholders take an active role in adoption or strengthen their current efforts, and will help move electrical safety forward.”
Another new website helps underscore the 2014 NEC’s relevance. Contractors, designers, engineers, and code enforcers can find timely information tailored to their field on necconnect.org
, an online community highlighting the new edition as well as electrical news. Code experts, for instance, discuss the NEC’s new and existing provisions, renewable energy requirements in the code, and information on grounding and bonding via video interviews. Once members join the “NEC community” by submitting an email address, they’ll have free access to exclusive content, including newsletters, webinars, and additional videos.
“The necconnect.org website is an important way for NFPA to engage with its customers and to make sure they have the resources to do their jobs,” says Andy Wandell, NFPA’s division director of Marketing and Sales. “Customers can be confident that they are getting views from thought leaders in the industry as well as practical tools they can use.”
— Fred Durso, Jr.
A conversation with Drew Azzara, NFPA’s new Middle East representative
By Fred Durso, Jr.
The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, towering 2,716 feet (828 meters) over downtown Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The building represents the opulence and vitality of Dubai’s construction boom, which is shared by other cities in the Emirates and throughout the Middle East and is evidenced by a proliferation of construction cranes rising against the desert landscape.
With rapid development come fire and life safety issues, and NFPA is expanding its presence throughout the region. In April it hired Drew Azzara as executive director of the Middle East and North African regions to advise the public and private sectors in those areas on adoption of codes and standards. Azzara was former vice president of corporate development for ASTM International and vice president of global services for the International Code Council (ICC), where he furthered ICC efforts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Azzara says he plans to bolster NFPA training and assist with code adoption initiatives. He recently spoke with NFPA Journal from his Dubai office about his new responsibilities.
How would you describe the construction boom in the Middle East?
No more than fifteen years ago, the landscape’s view in Dubai was primarily desert. Today, the city has become symbolic for skyscrapers and high-rise buildings at every turn. The entire region is geared for significant growth. It’s believed that construction and development will continue through 2030. Business conditions are positive here and throughout the Gulf region, and NFPA’s opportunities to improve fire and life safety are significant.
How utilized are NFPA’s codes and standards in this region?
In a number of jurisdictions, NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler System
s; NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
; and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®
are used, along with other technical documents. What we’d like to do is increase our presence and expand the use of our codes and standards. I’m the boots on the ground tasked with building relationships with both the private and public sectors on a daily basis. I engage them and highlight the value that NFPA offers.
What NFPA training is being offered in the Middle East?
We’re focusing on NFPA 13, NFPA 72, and NFPA 101. However, we are open to meeting the training challenges and needs of the region. NFPA’s training programs are readily available. This includes the delivery of this information with both language and cultural nuances addressed. There is so much development going on here, and these countries are committed to training their professional personnel in understanding these codes and standards. They would also like a defined career path to certification, something that could credential them and connect them to NFPA from a professional development standpoint.
What are your tactics for fulfilling these goals?
We have to understand that decision making is different here than in the United States. The common goal of improving safety binds all of the stakeholders. You engage officials on the value of codes and standards and how this can help them increase the safety and efficiency of the building construction industry. If they can arrive at definitive codes and standards and use them consistently, it greatly improves their building regulatory system.
Based on my past experience in the Middle East, I’m extremely confident we can move the NFPA agenda forward. It’s all about relationship building. It’s important to have that face-to-face interaction. They know somebody’s here in the region, someone is committed.
Adapt That Tune!
What happens when classic rock meets fire and life safety? You tell us.
As part of his feature on cooking fires
in this issue, Journal staff writer Fred Durso, Jr., wrote a sidebar that he titled “Come On Baby, Mitigate My Fire.” That inspired bit of work, a riff on the title of the classic tune by The Doors, just begs for more. At least we think it might. To wit:
- “Products of Combustion on the Water,” Deep Purple
- “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (But Don’t Rub Them),” The Platters
- “Disco Conflagration,” The Trammps
You get the idea. Now we want yours.
Send us your best fire- and life-safety variations on the titles of classic pop tunes, along with the original artists, and we’ll consider them for publication in the September/October issue of Journal. Be sure to include your name, title, company or institution, and location. Email your submissions to email@example.com
. Submission deadline is August 12. Rock on.
HOME FIRE SPRINKLERS
Faces of Fire PSA receives Emmy Nomination
Plus, a call for nominations for the Bringing Safety Home Award
A public service announcement created for NFPA’s Faces of Fire Campaign
was recently nominated for a Southeast Regional Emmy Award. The campaign is a component of NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative
that uses testimony of individuals affected by fire to promote sprinkler systems in one- and two-family homes.
Highlighting Princella Lee Bridges and produced by Steven Minichiello, the video tells the story of Bridges, who suffered burns on nearly half her body in a house fire in 1992 and is now an advocate for home fire sprinklers. The PSA was one of six finalists in the “Television Spot Announcement Excellence—Community/PSA” category.
The video did not win, but the opportunity to spread the fire sprinkler message to a large audience was award enough, says Minichiello, who joined Bridges at the awards ceremony in Atlanta in June. “The happiness Princella showed was over the top,” Minichiello says.
Additional Faces of Fire videos can be viewed at firesprinklerinitiative.org
Call for Nominations
NFPA, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), and the International Association of Fire Chiefs are seeking nominations for the Bringing Safety Home Award. Recognizing outstanding fire chiefs, the award aims to promote home fire sprinklers throughout the United States.
The recipient will be selected from nominees using NFPA and HFSC educational materials on sprinkler installation.
Nominations will be accepted through July 19. Visit firesprinklerinitiative.org/safetyaward
Fire officials named for Harvard fellowship program
Four senior fire officials have received fellowships to participate in the Harvard University Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.
The participants include Joel Baker, deputy chief of the City of Atlanta Fire-Rescue Department; Phil Eagleson, chief of the Saugeen Shores Fire Department in Port Elgin, Ontario; Michael Romas, assistant chief of the Milwaukee Fire Department; and Derrick Sawyer, deputy chief of the City of Philadelphia Fire Department.
The NFPA co-sponsored program takes place annually over three weeks each summer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, located at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It aims to equip public officials with the skills and experience needed to become effective public leaders.
NFPA’s partners in the program include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Fire Administration, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the International Fire Service Training Association.
Research Foundation releases report on lithium-ion batteries
Stored quantities of lithium-ion batteries burn similarly to other cartoned commodities, suggesting that existing water-based suppression systems are viable options for protecting those commodities.
That’s one of the findings from a recent study on the combustibility of lithium-ion batteries in bulk storage. The study, sponsored by the Fire Protection Research Foundation
in collaboration with commercial and industrial insurer FM Global, was conducted to inform the development of sprinkler protection criteria for the batteries.
The first of two test series evaluated the free burn fire growth patterns of three types of common lithium-ion batteries stored in cardboard cartons with an external ignition scenario. The second evaluated the performance of sprinklers in protecting similar commodities.
The Foundation’s report, “Lithium Ion Batteries Hazard and Use Assessment Phase IIB: Flammability Characterization of Li-ion Batteries for Storage Protection,” is available at nfpa.org/
Firewise Communities Program names regional advisor
Patti Maguire has been named the Firewise advisor for the Firewise® Communities Program Southwest 2 Region to help expand NFPA’s community wildfire safety activities.
Maguire joins the program’s five existing regional advisors and will oversee Firewise activities in communities in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. She will assist sites that are new to the Firewise program and support the ongoing work of existing sites, in coordination with state forestry leadership.
Maguire’s background includes wildfire prevention and forest health, and she has worked as a wildland firefighter for the USDA Forest Service and as a park ranger for the Bureau of Land Management. As a member of the USDA Forest Service Wildfire Prevention and Education Team, Maguire has traveled through the West and Great Plains states on interagency teams to develop intensive public awareness campaigns in communities experiencing extreme wildfire conditions.
NFPA names Donald Bliss vice president of Field Operations
Donald P. Bliss has been appointed NFPA’s vice president of Field Operations. He will oversee the organization’s International Division, Government Affairs Division, and Regional Operations.
Bliss, of Hampton, New Hampshire, has been a part of the fire service since 1970. He has served as director of the University of Connecticut Fire Department, as the fire chief and town emergency management director for Salem, New Hampshire, and as New Hampshire’s State Fire Marshal and state homeland security director. Bliss was president and chief operating officer of the nonprofit National Infrastructure Institute in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and was a senior public safety consultant with Municipal Resources, Inc.
He previously served on the NFPA Standards Council, as well as on NFPA’s Board of Directors from 2003 to 2009. Bliss has been involved in numerous NFPA panels and committees.