NFPA Today

FPRF to Host Free Webinar on Firefighter PPE Cleaning

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of NFPA®, will host a free webinar on September 28, 2023, titled “Fire Service PPE Cleaning Validation.” Firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) is exposed to a wide range of toxic chemicals, biological pathogens, and other hazardous substances and contaminants. Those contaminants soil firefighter PPE and other fire service gear. Cross-contaminated equipment and gear are suspected of adversely influencing immediate and long-term firefighter health and wellness. To lessen the risk of these exposures, PPE and other gear are being cleaned more frequently. NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, address general cleaning procedures, but more science is needed to support, clarify, and enhance those procedures. Major research efforts are addressing the question of “How clean is clean?” In late 2015, FPRF initiated PPE cleaning validation research through a 3-year assistance to firefighters grant (AFG) for developing comprehensive procedures to evaluate cleaning in removing both chemical and biological contaminants that ensure optimum contaminant removal from firefighter PPE. As part of this larger effort, FPRF is leading a unique research team partnership that also includes International Personnel Protection, Inc. (IPP, Inc.) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This research established validated cleaning procedures focused on PPE textile garments that are traditionally cleaned in commercial laundering extractors that led to the implementation of gear cleaning and sanitization verification procedures adopted as part of NFPA 1851. A second phase effort was undertaken in late 2018 to establish a validated and scientifically based cleaning methodology for the primary spectrum of potentially contaminated fire service PPE, including turnout clothing and equipment not addressed by previous work such as helmets, gloves, footwear, and SCBA. The research in this project has expanded the available knowledge on fireground contamination, particularly to where it is likely to be found at the highest concentrations and how effectively it can be removed from the range of different firefighter PPE. The findings from this work show that different protective clothing and equipment items being of distinctive designs and comprised of dissimilar materials show varying affinities for becoming contaminated and in being able to be decontaminated. A third phase effort is now ongoing that augments the prior two phases of research to establish and communicate comprehensive best practices the fire service can apply to effectively clean and sanitize firefighter PPE. The principal aim for this new effort is to comprehensively identify the most effective and practical decontamination approaches for each element of the firefighter ensemble to create simple, easy-to-implement tools that fire departments can use to assess PPE contamination from individual structural fires and the effectiveness of their internal cleaning procedures. This webinar will provide an update of findings from this multi-year research effort. Jeffrey Stull, International Personnel Protection, Inc., and Crystal Forester, NIOSH NPPTL, are the presenters of this webinar. Webinar registration is free and required to attend live; register for this webinar using the direct link here, or by visiting nfpa.org/webinars, where you can also watch archived FPRF webinars on demand. The Fire Protection Research Foundation acknowledges the support from the FPRF 2023 Webinar Series Sponsors: ·       AXA XL Risk Consulting ·       Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc. ·       Telgian Engineering and Consulting ·       The Zurich Services Corporation ·       Worcester Polytechnic Institute Fire Protection Engineering Program   To learn more about this project, visit nfpa.org/ppecleaning.
The world

As Populations Grow and New Hazards Emerge, Understanding Global Trends and Research Can Help Us Chart the Course

SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 UPDATE: The fire that broke out in a ramshackle five-story apartment building in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 31 killed at least 73 people, including many who were homeless. The fire underscores global concerns about fire and life safety, particularly among developing nations and areas where housing pressures create additional risks for the poorest and most vulnerable populations. The conditions in which the Johannesburg occupants were living directly contributed to the large loss of life, reinforcing the need for established building codes and provisions that work to effectively protect people and property. This blog, which I originally wrote almost two years ago, touches on this and associated issues. Additionally, the NFPA Journal article “Ultra Urban,” published in the Winter 2021 edition, speaks to a wide range of fire and life safety concerns that have emerged as populations increasingly move to more urban settings. The following blog was originally published October 8, 2021. More people living on the planet creates pressure, on so many levels, in society. Fire and life safety is one of those pressures. Some fire safety challenges are directly related to the increase in population and urbanization, while others stem from our desire to mitigate the impact of having more humans on the planet. Population  growth overall has precipitated an upward shift in the number of people living in urban areas. In fact, the UN estimates that the world’s population living in urban settlements will increase to 60 percent by 2030 with one in every three people opting to reside in cities that have at least half a million inhabitants. Furthermore, it is projected that 2.5 billion will be added to the world’s urban population by 2050, with almost 90 percent of this growth happening in Asia and Africa. The magnitude of this population growth puts enormous pressure on our built environment and has already spurred the construction of more tall buildings and denser cities. As population grows, it is important that we mitigate the impact we have on our planet by ensuring that current and future development is done in a sustainable way. This shift has resulted in significant changes to our built environment in recent decades, and has ushered in new products, alternative energy sources, unique energy storage solutions, and the use of more lightweight materials with higher levels of insulation. The need for sustainability and energy efficiency is clear but unfortunately prioritizing the impact on our fire and life safety in the process is less so. We continue to see solutions developed with sustainability and/or energy efficiency in mind but fire and life safety components for these technologies are not being adequately explored. Need some examples? Just think about the dramatic fires we have seen running up the facades of high-rise buildings in the last decade. Or explosions in modern energy storage systems. How about the car fires that are challenging parking garage structures? And don’t forget the fires caused or complicated by the integration of photovoltaic panels on our buildings. While fire and life safety should always be at the forefront, we must also choose solutions that are sustainable for the long haul. When identifying and implementing new fire protection solutions, it is most critical to avoid any “substitution regret”. Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) are an example of a solution, which had been used as dominant Class B firefighting foams for decades, and eventually were found to have an adverse environmental impact due to its chemical composition. Today, replacements foams and agents are tested and studied for its effectiveness to satisfy the immediate needs, as well as the long-term safety of all involved. To complicate matters further,  life safety challenges are often most prominent in areas where income levels are lower. So, with rapid growth in cities, it is inevitable that there will be insufficient affordable housing thus prompting larger numbers of people to live in informal settlements where housing may not comply with planning, building, and safety regulations. It is tempting to dismiss this as a systemic issue in low- and middle-income countries but the fact is that low income areas exists in all countries, including the United States, and are often where the fire problem is the most significant. If we want to eliminate the fire problem, we simply cannot ignore its impact in low-income areas. Reading all this, one can easily get discouraged and think that we will never be able to eliminate the fire problem. But do not despair, because researchers have been working on all the issues mentioned above and more, so that we can continue to come up with solutions that will help us to improve safety.

Fire Break

Getting Ready for the 2023 Firewise USA Renewal Application

Did you know that being recognized by the Firewise USA® program requires annual commitment to action? Each year, participating communities engage in educational outreach and science-based risk reduction within their boundaries. This annual work improves the overall condition of homes and properties, increasing the odds of withstanding a wildfire.    Firewise USA sites share the work they’ve done through the annual renewal application, found on the Firewise USA portal. This sharing keeps them in good standing for the next calendar year. For 2023, renewal applications are due Friday, November 17, and can be started now. (Please note: Sites that became recognized for the first time in 2023 do not need to renew this year.)   Ready to start your renewal application? Here are some tips to help you along the process.   Logging into the system The renewal application is online, and you will need to log in to get to your community profile. Make sure you can log in at portal.firewise.org. If you forget your password, you can use the “Forgot your password?” link underneath the log-in button—make sure to check your spam or junk folder if you don't receive anything. If you are continuing to have trouble, email us at firewise@nfpa.org. Filling out the application Contact information: Make sure we have the correct physical address for shipping any program materials to. Typically, this is updated when a new resident leader takes over guiding a community. Overview: This section allows for a couple of important updates. Adding another resident leader: Have someone else who wants to help share the job of resident leader? You can give them access to the portal through the “Manage Contacts” button. You can add a resident leader by inputting their email address. If they don’t already have an account set up, the system will send them an email inviting them to set up an account. Updating dwelling unit count: Did your community expand or shrink its footprint?  Update your dwelling unit count to accurately reflect your community. This is important for risk reduction investment reporting and for your community boundary. Please update your boundary map and upload it in the risk assessment step. Risk assessment and action plans: If your documents are current, you can import them to the application by clicking “Reuse current risk assessment” or “Reuse current action plan.” The system will remind you if it is time to update them. Learn more about updating your action plan in our 2021 renewal blog. Want or need to update your risk assessment? We have an online tutorial and template to help you better understand the purpose and how to go about it. Reporting actions: The next three sections are where you tell us about your community’s achievements. Educational outreach: This can be done in a variety of ways—virtual meetings or trainings, in person, digital outreach, print, workshop … the list goes on and on. The key point is that information is shared with your community members around wildfire safety and what actions they can take individually, and how your Firewise committee is guiding overall community efforts. Vegetation removal: We want to hear what you took out of your community. This section has an estimation tool to help calculate cubic yards removed. You can also tell us about any prescribed fire events or altering of fuel (chipping and scattering or other similar activities) that took place. Risk reduction investment: The cornerstone of the Firewise USA program is residents taking action and doing the work to improve the condition of their homes and properties against wildfire. Each site is required to annually invest the equivalent of one volunteer hour per dwelling unit in wildfire risk reduction actions. If your site has identified 100 homes within its boundary, for instance, then 100 hours of work—or the monetary equivalent—need to be completed for the year. Review and submit: The final step allows you to review everything and ensure you have met the requirements. If you are short on the investment, that section will be red. If you have met the hours worked or monetary investment, it will be green. If your application is good to go, check the acknowledgement box at the bottom and click on the green “Submit” button. Application submitted!   Once your application is submitted, it will be added to the queue for review. State liaisons and NFPA staff will read through applications to ensure all criteria are met. If there are any questions or concerns, they will send the application back with a note on what steps to take. If everything looks good, they will approve it and the system will send an email letting you know. The email will include a link to your newly updated Certificate of Recognition.   If you run into any issues along the way or have questions, please send them to firewise@nfpa.org.   We appreciate the commitment that all of you have shown to living with wildfire and the proactive steps you are taking to improve safety. We look forward to learning about what you achieved in 2023 and sharing your efforts to inspire others.

California Designates its 700th Firewise USA Community

Upper Mark West Fire Safe Council in Sonoma County, California, was recently designated a Firewise USA® community, representing the 700th Firewise community to be recognized in the state. According to Chief Daniel Berlant, deputy director of CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation Division, reaching the 700th community came just eight months after celebrating the 600th community milestone.   The Upper Mark West community is extremely active, regularly hosting hands-on fire prevention workshops, community work parties, and gatherings to promote fire safety education materials. They also put out a regular newsletter. In addition, the community has been successful in its grant writing efforts. They are currently in the middle of completing a CAL FIRE planning grant, which addresses large-scale fuel reduction projects, along with a county grant to do roadside fuel reduction project. RELATED: NFPA Urges Action to Mitigate Wildfire Risks Amid Unprecedented Destruction   It’s incredibly exciting to see the momentum around Firewise continue to build and grow throughout California, which holds more than 30 percent of all Firewise USA communities nationwide.   The efforts of Upper Mark West in coordination with the other hundreds of Firewise communities throughout the state will collectively help reduce the potentially devastating impact of future wildfires. I hope this momentum and enthusiasm will motivate not only more communities in California to participate, but also those in the many other states that face the real threat of wildfire. Most recently, the devastation that occurred in Maui reinforces just how important it is to be as prepared as possible. Firewise can play a critical role in those efforts.    The Firewise USA recognition program is administered by NFPA. Individuals and communities participate on a voluntary basis and are recognized as a Firewise community upon the completion of certain tasks, including forming a committee of residents and other wildfire stakeholders, obtaining a written risk assessment form, developing a 3-year action plan for the community, hosting an outreach event, and ultimately completing their application to become a Firewise community.    To learn the steps and begin the process of becoming a Firewise community, visit firewise.org.

Safety Source

Taking Steps to Reduce Fire Risk in On- and Off-Campus Housing During Campus Fire Safety Month in September

With the fall semester soon upon us, students are making their way to college campuses across the country, unpacking and settling in for the school year. For some students this may be the first time living on their own in a dormitory, or as an older student they may be living with friends in an off-campus apartment or house. Through our “Campus Fire Safety for Students” campaign held each September, NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) are working together to help ensure these residences are as safe as possible for students. If you’re not familiar with Campus Fire Safety Month, it’s an annual campaign that raises awareness about the threat of fires in both on- and off-campus housing. Each year NFPA collaborates with other safety organizations to share relevant information with students, their parents, and campus housing staff and administrators, helping students make living spaces as safe as possible from fires and associated hazards. This September, NFPA and CCFS are reinforcing the critical importance of cooking safety, the focus of this year’s Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW) campaign, which works to educate people about the leading risks to home fires and ways they can better protect themselves and their loved ones. When it comes to cooking, NFPA research shows that cooking fires are the most frequent cause of home fires and home fire injuries; unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires and related deaths. With so many students having access to cooking appliances and common kitchen areas in student and off-campus housing, it’s vital that they know when and where cooking hazards exist, along with simple but critical ways to prevent them. Did you know …. according to the latest statistics from NFPA’s “Fires in Dormitory-Type Properties,” report, from 2017 to 2021, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,379 structure fires each year in dormitories, fraternity houses, sorority houses, and barracks. These fires caused an annual average of 23 civilian injuries and $12 million in direct property damage during this same period. In addition, three out of four fires in these properties began in the kitchen or cooking area, accounting for 60 percent of the civilian injuries and 17 percent of the direct property damage. Cooking equipment was involved in nearly 9 out of 10 fires. More statistics of note include: The months of February, September, and October were peak times for fires in dormitory properties. Fires were more common during the evening hours between 4 p.m. and midnight when over half of the fires (54 percent) occurred. Kitchen and cooking equipment were involved in 86 percent of the fires. Fires were also more common on weekends with Saturday and Sunday being the leading days for fire events. Campus Fire Safety Month provides a great opportunity to better educate students about where fire hazards exist, and simple but critical ways to prevent them. NFPA and CCFS offer these tips and recommendations for cooking safely in dorms and in off-campus housing: Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short time, turn off the stove or oven. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Always keep a lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Set a timer for a reminder that you are cooking. Cook only when alert. Don’t cook if you are sleepy or have taken medicines or alcohol that make you drowsy. Keep anything that can catch fire (towels, potholders, etc.) away from the stovetop. Check with the local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea. If a fire starts in the oven, turn it off and leave the door closed. Have the oven checked and/or serviced before using it again. If you have a cooking fire, when in doubt, get out and call the fire department. These additional tips from NFPA and CCFS can help students reduce the risk of fires and save lives: Know and practice the building’s evacuation plan, as well as alternate routes out of the building. Test smoke alarms monthly in an apartment or a house. Ensure smoke alarms are installed in all sleeping areas, outside of all sleeping areas, and on every level of the apartment or house. Never remove or disable smoke alarms. Keep combustible items away from heat sources and never overload electrical outlets, extension cords, or power strips. Many fires are caused by portable light and heat sources, like space heaters and halogen lamps. Keep common areas and hallways free of possessions and debris. Never block exit routes. If you’re a public educator or safety professional working in a community with a college or university campus, NFPA and CCFS have resources and materials you can use to help raise awareness about student safety. From new students to seniors, resident assistants to campus safety professionals, everyone has a role to play when it comes to fire safety on college and university campuses. Many of our resources, including videos, checklists, infographics, and tips sheets, are designed to be distributed through social media, school newspapers, college websites, and posted in dormitory common areas. Make sure you check them out and share them with others! For more information about the Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign and to find these free resources, visit nfpa.org/campus and the CCFS website and its Share! For Students webpage.

Get Ready for Fire Prevention Week with NFPA

"Cooking Safety Starts with YOU. Pay attention to fire prevention.™” is the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week™, October 8–14, reinforcing the simple, yet critical actions people can take to reduce their risk of cooking fires and burns. Cooking remains the #1 cause of home fires and injuries, with unattended cooking the leading cause of cooking-related fire deaths. Whether cooking on a stove, in the oven, on a grill, or even with an electric cooking appliance, there are a variety of things people can do to prevent burns and fires from happening. In a modern-day world full of distractions, this year’s theme underscores some simple actions everyone can take, including: Watch what you heat and set a timer to remind you that you are cooking. Keep kids 3 feet (1 m) from the stove/grill/oven and anywhere hot foods/liquids are being served. Turn pot handles towards the back of the stove. Always keep a lid nearby; if a small fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. GET READY to bring Fire Prevention Week to your communities—here’s how: Register today for our free Fire Prevention Week 2023 webinar to learn about the drivers, data, and calls to action behind this year’s theme.  There’s something for everyone in this year’s theme no matter the type of cooking (stoves, grills, electric appliances) or audience (kids, college students, older adults) for fire and life safety, injury prevention, and community educators to engage and connect for cooking safety. The webinar will feature guest speaker Anthony Hamins of the Fire Research Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who will provide insights on cooktop fire ignition and mitigation, and the direction education and technology need to take to help reduce this #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Visit our FPW™ Toolkit Page for a variety of templates, fillable flyers, social media assets, lesson plans, tip sheets, and activities addressing a wide range of audiences and types of cooking fire and burn prevention.  Our materials are available for free download to use and of course aligned with our Educational Messages Desk Reference, which brings together the most up-to-date fire and burn prevention messaging rooted in fire science, standards, behavioral science, and pedagogy. Now in its 101st year, Fire Prevention Week (FPW) remains the signature initiative from NFPA to connect fire departments, schools, and community education and injury prevention professionals to their communities with life-saving, relevant messages, resources, and programs.  Learn more about the history of FPW and tour our resources at FirePreventionWeek.org. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in Fire and Life Safety education.

Fire Sprinkler Initiative

Rebuilt North Dakota Rural Fire Station Now Protected with Fire Sprinklers

As we all know, home fires don’t pick and choose where they strike. They can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime—even firefighters.   Fire stations are a home away from home for firefighters, often with cooking and sleeping quarters. Even though firefighters are the station “residents,” when a fire station doesn’t have fire sprinklers installed and a fire strikes, the damage can be significant, especially when the firefighters are out on a call.   That’s precisely what happened to the Glenburn Fire Department in north central North Dakota on March 6, 2021, when their own fire station burned down. The Glenburn Rural Fire Protection District covers a large jurisdiction, including two small cities and numerous farms and ranches.   The station was unstaffed and by the time firefighters got the call it was too late―most everything had been destroyed. An investigation determined the fire was caused by a furnace failure. Fortunately, no lives were lost, and no one was injured in that fire.   BUILT BACK BETTER   Today, the station has been rebuilt and is protected with installed fire sprinklers. Glenburn Fire Chief Mike Overton said it has been a long two years, but now the fire department is up and functioning. He and department personnel are using their experience to raise awareness about fire dangers and the benefits of fire sprinklers.   In fact, the Glenburn Fire Department received a $500 stipend from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), which it will use to hold an educational open house in its new, sprinklered station during Home Fire Sprinkler Week 2023 (May 14–20). In addition to sharing information on home sprinklers, the open house will feature HFSC’s 3D virtual reality and other videos, information on smoke alarms, and more.   One of the key messages to be reinforced is that today’s home fires burn faster and hotter than in the 60s and 70s. Back then, residents had up to 17 minutes to escape a home fire. Now, with synthetic furnishings, lightweight building materials, and open designs, that window has closed to just 2 minutes or less. Fortunately, sprinklers activate quickly, controlling and often extinguishing the fire before the fire department arrives.   Chief Overton says members of the community will learn that having both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers cuts the risk of death in a home fire by 82 percent compared to having neither. He also plans to underscore that sprinklers are green, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 98 percent, fire damage by up to 97 percent, and water usage by as much as 91 percent.   When it comes to educating our communities about the dangers of home fires, seeing really is believing. Chief Overton understands this, and the Glenburn open house will go a long way toward delivering the vital messages through meaningful and memorable presentations to the community. WHAT CAN YOUR COMMUNITY DO?   Your community needs these lifesaving messages, too. A live demonstration or a side-by-side virtual reality video will reveal how quickly a home fire spreads without sprinklers, versus how quickly it’s controlled with installed sprinklers. And as Chief Overton is doing with his station, consider sharing personal stories you may have about fire sprinklers, not just for homeowners, but for firefighters as well.   You can tap into NFPA’s free resources, including safety tip sheets, you can download and share. And for home fire sprinkler content, use HFSC’s free turnkey tools that make it easy for you to educate your target audiences. You can also create a space on your website about the value of building new homes with fire sprinklers. Upload videos and other content. Post cards to your social media accounts. Or simply link to HomeFireSprinkler.org (HFSC’s website is free of advertising and all content is free to you).   No matter how you plan your outreach activities, NFPA and HFSC are here to support your efforts. We look forward to hearing about your successes.

Fire Safety Advocates Ready to Amplify Life Safety Messages for 6th Annual Home Fire Sprinkler Week May 14–20

Fire departments and fire safety advocates throughout North America are getting ready to increase awareness about home fire sprinklers using digital media tools and community outreach events May 14–20, 2023. The weeklong digital campaign, co-hosted by the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative project and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), will amplify key home fire sprinkler messaging with daily themes and turnkey assets anyone can use. Participation has increased significantly since the campaign first started six years ago. During the pandemic, many fire departments were not able to conduct live community events but participated by visiting HFSC’s webpage daily and sending out social media messages. Now many fire departments have planned community events and are using HFSC resources including home fire sprinkler displays, educational banners, brochures, and live fire and sprinkler demonstrations. In addition to sharing our digital messages, many are producing their own short videos. We encourage fire departments to use HFSC’s media resources, like the press releases and radio PSA scripts that can be localized with fire department information. We receive positive feedback from members of the media who visit HFSC’s pressroom and download the broadcast-quality video footage to prepare their own stories. There is nothing more powerful than footage of a living room fire with and without sprinklers. If you have contacts with your local media, make sure you let them know about these high-quality resources. Now more than ever, we need you to participate. In most regions, new home construction is robust, with roughly 1 million new homes projected this year. And a recent survey revealed that 80 percent of millennials would prefer a new home with fire sprinklers once they learned how sprinklers work. That is why public education and community outreach is so important. Please plan to join us this May to populate the digital world with fire sprinkler and safety facts. I think you’ll be impressed with the array of powerful educational tools on HFSC’s dedicated Home Fire Sprinkler Week website. Every day there is a different theme along with corresponding digital content and messaging. You choose which resources to use―or use them all. Whether virtual or in-person, you can customize our digital tools for your audiences and potentially reach new people vital to your community risk reduction initiatives. I look forward to seeing the results as we all work together to spread the word.

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