NFPA Today

HCIS licensing requirements webinar is now available for fire protection contractors and consultants working in 12 Saudi Arabian sectors

Earlier this month, the NFPA jointly presented an informational webinar with the Saudi Arabian High Commission for Industrial Security (HCIS) on new license renewal requirements that went into effect last month. The webinar was a great collaboration between NFPA and the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) that provides strategic supervision and is the approval body for 12 industries in Saudi. The one-hour webinar with Q&A covered the new mandate as well as the NFPA training and certification classes that professionals will need to take before they seek license renewals within the petroleum, electricity, petrochemicals, water, industrial services, communications, mining, gas, civil explosives, chemical manufacturing, metal manufacturing, and port sectors. The webinar is a prime example of the government responsibility that is emphasized in the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™. With more than 1500 registered for the live version of the webinar, the Saudi Arabian workforce demonstrated that it is interested in skilling up and investing in safety – two other critical components of the Ecosystem. Whether you attended the webinar on the 8th and want to revisit things, or are just learning about this webinar for the first time, be sure to see what the new Saudi Arabian requirements  and NFPA solutions are all about by accessing the archived webinar now. Looking to establish similar safety benchmarks elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa? Reach out to me so that we can work together to connect the dots on safety, because knowledge is power.  
An electrician with wiring

A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Electrical Equipment Working Space

The National Electrical Code® (NEC)® Section 110.26 requires adequate working space for all electrical equipment. NEC Section 110.26(A) requires a clear space at least 30 inches wide and 36 inches deep if the equipment is likely to be worked on while energized. This space is necessary not only to allow workers room to perform tasks but also room to move if something goes wrong. NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, Section 110.3 requires that all equipment be placed into an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) unless there is proper justification for the equipment to be energized. NEC 110.26(A) still applies even if equipment will be in an ESWC. The initial electrical inspection for a facility is conducted by a legislated authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).  However, as with all NFPA 70E requirements, it is the employer who assigns someone as the AHJ within the facility. That person may also be the AHJ for the NEC requirements when new equipment is installed in that facility. Floor space is at a premium so providing larger working space is a common issue. An inhouse AHJ will try to convince the official AHJ that the equipment will never be worked on while energized. The problem with that argument is that both OSHA and NFPA 70E require equipment that is not in a verified ESWC to be considered energized. As far as the NEC is concerned, energized equipment requires working space no matter which AHJ inspects the installation. The inhouse AHJ will claim that employee training, work procedures, equipment maintenance, and work practices assure that an employee will never work on the equipment energized. The inhouse AHJ may convince themselves that this is justification to use a working space smaller than NEC Section 110.26(A) when they are the sole AHJ. This argument typically fails when it is an official AHJ who must approve the proposed working space. They want to assure worker safety under any situation by providing the required space. Few official AHJs will approve a smaller working space based on conditions that are beyond their jurisdiction. They will not verify worker qualification, determine the effectiveness of the training program, check equipment maintenance records, or review work procedures and practices. Human error is a major contributor to workplace fatalities and injuries. An official AHJ will not want to sign off on an installation that will haunt them when a worker fails to follow the employer’s electrical safety program. It takes experience to protect workers while preserving valuable floor space. Electrical safety is always affected by installation, maintenance, and work practices. There is equipment not likely to be worked on while energized. There are installation methods and techniques that can minimize the amount of working space required. There is equipment that operates below the minimum shock or arc-flash hazard levels. The full working space of NEC 110.26(A) will be necessary without a holistic approach to electrical safety. Make sure your installations provide the clear space necessary to keep a worker safe. NFPA 70E and the NEC are now available in NFPA LiNK™, the association’s information delivery platform with NFPA codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more at nfpa.org/LiNK.

Fire Break

Recognizing a need for clarification: Firewise recognition vs. certification

As wildfires ignite landscapes and communities during this active fire year, interest in community action to improve wildfire safety is at an all-time high. Folks are seeking out the Firewise USA® recognition program in greater numbers than ever before, with hundreds of new sites in the process of having their applications approved. This is great news, but when articles come out that a new site has met the criteria, the headlines often say that the community has become “Firewise-certified” or “earned their certification from Firewise.” What's in a name? And why doesn't “recognition” smell as sweet to copy editors as “certification?” Often, the brief articles I see celebrating a community's hard work to become safer from wildfire will use NFPA's information about Firewise verbatim, and will talk about the community being recognized for its efforts, even when the headline says “certified.” All this would be simply a fussy English major's headache, if it weren't for the real concern our program team has about what “certification” and “certified” imply. A quick web search showed a pretty consistent pattern that certification applies most often to people, not to groups, and implies a high professional standard of achievement that allows an individual to access a certain job role or professional qualification. Certified accountants come to mind. One of the few certifications I found applying to an organization had to do with the ability of organizations to access specific government funding. And of course, NFPA develops and provides certifications of various kinds to help fire inspectors, electricians, and others demonstrate technical competency in their fields. NFPA's national recognition of neighborhoods where residents organize and follow guidelines to become safer from wildfire doesn't apply to individuals (and certainly not individual homes). Yes, there are criteria that have to be met, but they are fairly flexible and are intended to encourage people living in high-risk areas to get started on a years-long, community-wide journey toward greater safety. Unlike a certification, Firewise USA recognition is not an end-point, nor the end-all-and-be-all of wildfire safety. The more we see “certified” and “certification” being tossed around in articles and online conversation, the more the perception of Firewise USA seems to become warped and conflated with individual homes meeting some mythical standard of safety or insurability. This perception is understandable, especially in California, where more and more people living in high-risk areas have experienced insurance rate increases or have had to shop for insurance when their carrier declines to continue covering their property. However, we simply can't claim that any given property is safer or its risk has been reduced just because the minimum community-wide criteria have been met on a voluntary basis. While we've seen positive effects on overall community safety over time, Firewise recognition is not a magic wand we wave to make a home with a flammable roof and overgrown vegetation safe from wildfire. Recognition is our encouragement and acknowledgment that communities have taken the first steps toward safety, and toward a sustained effort to change the results when wildfire strikes. Photo: Community members presented with Firewise USA Recognition sign, NFPA.

Safety Source

escape route sign

From Preparedness Month to Fire Prevention Week

September is National Preparedness Month in which residents are encouraged to plan ahead and take precautions against a myriad of hazards. From having an evacuation bag, to stocking up on batteries and food in case of power outages, to preparing your animals for storms and evacuations, the messages are clear – disasters can happen, and you can be ready to respond. NFPA's preparedness page offers up key information and actions people can take to prepare to respond quickly and safely in the event of natural disasters and home fires. The “Preparedness” discussion often leads to the question – “what’s the difference between preparedness and prevention?”  Preparedness is a measure of prevention – by planning for worst case scenario – wildfire, hurricane, home fire, and the like.  It’s the work you do to assure you and your family can respond quickly and safely.  A classic example is having a Home Fire Escape Plan. Prevention is a broader term which encompasses preparedness and includes taking all available actions to prevent the hazard/emergency. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme from NFPA, “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety” encourages people to engage in the preparedness level of prevention by recognizing the sounds of their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, and taking appropriate action to be prepared in case of home fire or CO exposure.  From beeps to chirps, to testing monthly, to installing strobe lights and bed shakers, this year’s theme is all about making a plan to maintain and respond appropriately to their alarms.  Now in it’s 99th year, Fire Prevention Week, celebrated October 3 – 9 (and really all month long) offers Fire and Life Safety Educators and Injury Prevention Professionals information, resources and tools to support teaching people a critical preparedness lesson – that of responding to the sounds of their smoke and CO alarms. Check out the Fire Prevention Week Toolkit and resources for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and use the #FirePreventionWeek when celebrating this year. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter,  Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division.
Firefighter and kids

CRR in Action: 3 Questions with Lt. Erin Stehle of the Harrisonburg Fire Department

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) is a process to identify and prioritize local risks, followed by the integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce their occurrence and impact. This process has been gaining traction in fire departments around the world as a tool to enhance efforts to increase the safety of residents, visitors, and first responders. But what does it look like in action? As a member of the Community Risk Reduction team at NFPA, I am fortunate to work with passionate, proactive fire professionals who have real world perspective about CRR and its merits. I recently interviewed Lt. Erin Stehle, public education officer at the Harrisonburg Fire Department in Virginia. Lt. Stehle is an expert at using the CRR process to boost the impact of her public education initiatives.   KBR: Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW) is coming up quickly! The FPW theme, “Learn the Sound of Fire Safety™”, is important for everyone. How does your Community Risk Assessment (CRA) help you strengthen your FPW efforts? ES: The data from our CRA makes our Fire Prevention Week initiatives more impactful as it provides us with direction and a big picture view. The data points to the areas towards which we should be directing our FPW efforts and highlights the who, what and where risks are occurring in your community. Oftentimes in fire departments we assume problems are happening in certain areas. W. Edwards Deming said, “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.” By assessing the nine community profiles outlined in NFPA 1300, we have data to support assumptions with facts and figures, and have also uncovered some unexpected risks. This has been helpful when making a case to executive leadership about our strategy to reduce such risks. All in all, data is crucial to developing safety initiatives allows CRR professional to mitigate risks in our community, which in turn prevents more civilian and firefighter injuries and deaths. Lt. Erin Stehle spoke about Fire Prevention Week in NFPA's Conference Series in August.   KBR: Is it fair to say that your CRA is helping you drive diversity, equity, and inclusion in your fire & life safety education efforts? ES: Yes! Let me give you an example. For the past 30 years our department has used the same strategy for Fire Prevention Week, which includes static displays at our local mall. While this was the best location to promote FPW years ago, we are changing direction because of what we learned from our CRA. Specifically in our department, the data has allowed us to narrow our focus on underrepresented populations such as people experiencing language isolation, people with disabilities and older adults. This approach allows our departments to bring equity to our FPW efforts and meet the needs of vulnerable and underrepresented populations. Our community is quite diverse and over 70 different languages are spoken across our 55,000 residents. It is imperative that we consider this information to ensure we are effectively reaching our target audiences. This year we are either participating or hosting events that include these populations, as well as our usual elementary field trips and school visits to ensure the messages reach the broader population. KBR: Do you have any advice to offer CRR professionals who are planning for Fire Prevention Week this year? ES: Absolutely! If you are a CRR professional gearing up for FPW, consider these principles: Quality vs. Quantity- CRR professionals tend to be charismatic and compassionate people, which is a major strength when planning for Fire Prevention Week. It is exciting to celebrate a week that encompasses fire safety. However, we often feel like we have to do it all and that can be overwhelming. Therefore, it is important to consider developing programs and activities that maximize efficiency. For years we have continued to implement programs because “it’s how it has always been.” Or perhaps we feel internal and external pressure to continue to host certain events for public perception. Rather than giving in to the pressure, use your data to identify a plan with a clear focus. Stay attentive to your desired outcomes and high-impact interventions rather than high-touch. Give yourself permission to start small. We are in this together- You should never feel like CRR is only up to you. Identify the movers and shakers in the department who love working with the community. This can help create buy-in, so everyone knows their part in CRR. Of course, there is always going to be that 5-10% of a department that complains about CRR or pub ed, but don’t worry about them. CRR saves lives and what we are doing matters. There are many people within our departments that are compassionate and want to help. Seek them out because you are never alone in CRR. Tag-a-long- One lesson I’ve learned from CRR is that you do not have to host all of these events during FPW/month. Instead, look and see what’s already scheduled in your community and tag-a-long. There’s no reason to feel like you have to create new events. Partnerships are key in CRR. There is power in numbers and the more people involved in an event, that better it will be. So be sure to tag-a-long to community events happening during FPW/month. To learn more about CRR initiatives in Harrisonburg, reach out to Erin. Visit www.nfpa.org/CRAIG1300 to learn about CRAIG 1300, the NFPA Community Risk Assessment dashboard that Lt. Stehle used to drive her Fire Prevention Week efforts. This blog is part of a series intended to provide a peek into some commendable CRR initiatives and inspire those interested in CRR to jump in and join the momentum. Throughout the series, we’ll share brief interviews with CRR professionals about the unique efforts taking place at the local level.

Fire Sprinkler Initiative

A sprinkler head

NASFM is helping NFPA Spread the Word About Home Fire Sprinklers

The effectiveness of home fire sprinklers is undeniable. Sprinklers respond immediately to fires, meaning they fight a fire before firefighters even arrive. In most cases, this reduces a significant amount of property damage and can even save lives. However, from 2010-2014, home fire sprinkler systems were only found in seven percent of all home fires, according to NFPA. It is imperative to spread the word about home fire sprinklers as they truly have the power to save lives. Jon Narva, the director of external relations at the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), sat down with Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) president, Lorraine Carli, to talk more about this subject as a part of a video series created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of HFSC. Educating the public about home fire sprinklers is a huge objective for NASFM. Narva emphasized this point, stating that what is necessary to get more people to install home fire sprinklers is to “focus on education, that has to remain key and continuing to develop the programs to help the marshals get the word out, not just to the firefighters or first responders in their state, but to all the stakeholders as well,” he said. NASFM is playing a huge role in promoting home fire sprinklers because of how effective they are at stopping a fire before it engulfs a home. Home fire sprinklers are “really a no-brainer,” Narva said. “NASFM’s mission is to protect human life, property, and the environment and that describes home fire sprinklers.” According to Narva, home fire sprinklers can also help reduce safety risks in any community. “Community risk reduction really takes a look at the whole picture of all the risks that are out there,” he stated. “If we can reduce the fire risk through fire sprinklers, we’re able to dedicate resources to higher risk or more recent risk areas and protect the community overall.” To help promote home fire sprinklers, NAFSM worked with HFSC to develop programs that give people incentives for installing home fire sprinklers. Listen to the full interview with Narva and Carli to learn more about why it is so important to educate the public about home fire sprinklers:   If you missed any of the previous interviews, including Carli’s most recent discussion with Kevin Quinn, the 1st vice chairman at the National Volunteer Fire Council, find the full video series on HFSC’s website.   Help NFPA and HFSC celebrate its 25th anniversary this year; share the facts about the affordability, reliability, and effective protection of home fire sprinklers. For additional information, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative websites.
Kevin Quinn

Home Fire Sprinklers Reduce Risks for Volunteer Firefighters

There are 1.1 million firefighters nationwide, 67 percent of which are volunteers. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) represents the interests of volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. Kevin Quinn, the first vice chairman at the NVFC, sat down with Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) president, Lorraine Carli, to talk more about why home fire sprinklers are important to the volunteer firefighters as a part of a video series created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of HFSC. In the video interview, Quinn emphasizes the importance of home fire sprinklers as they save numerous lives, “by knocking those fires down before they become that deadly, whether it be for residents, or for firefighters, volunteers and career alike,” he said. Quinn mentions while every home should be equipped with home fire sprinklers, they are especially important in rural areas. Of all the country’s volunteer firefighters, many are in rural areas. “Water supply is an issue for rural areas and there’s a little bit more of a response time,” Quinn said. “So, the home fire sprinklers are going to be impactful on those residential homes that have protection.” Home fire sprinklers stopping a fire before it can spread puts firefighters at much less risk and reduces injuries from fighting structure fires. However, it also prevents firefighters from inhaling carcinogens from fires, reducing their risk of cancer. Cancer in firefighters is a serious issue. According to Two studies from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, they find that: Firefighters face a nine percent increase in cancer diagnosis. Firefighters also face a 14 percent increase in cancer related deaths compared to the general US population. In the video, Quinn states that the NVFC helped put together the Lavender Ribbon Report, which is 11 of the best practices to reduce exposure and minimize any kind of additional risk put on firefighters. “Volunteers are your neighbors helping others,” Quinn said. “They give up so much and dedicate so much and we appreciate each and every one of them for what they do. But we also have to let them realize that there are other means such as home fire sprinklers that will help protect them, their communities, and their families.” Listen to the full interview with Quinn and Carli to learn more about how home fire sprinklers reduce risks for volunteer firefighters:   If you missed any of the previous interviews, including Carli’s most recent discussion with Mike O’Brian, a fire chief from the Brighton Area Fire Authority and a board member on the International Association of Fire Chiefs, find the full video series on HFSC’s website.   Help NFPA and HFSC celebrate its 25th anniversary this year; share the facts about the affordability, reliability, and effective protection of home fire sprinklers. For additional information, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative websites.

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