NFPA Today

Area in the mountains

From Washington, Big Investments in Wildfire Mitigation on the Horizon

Last week, President Biden visited the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho and then continued to California to see first-hand the devastation wrought by the 200,000-acre Caldor fire. Talking to press from a Cal Fire hangar, he touted the concrete actions taken by his Administration to tackle the 2021 wildfire crisis—raising wages for federal firefighters to the federal minimum, securing aircraft to fight fires from the sky, and using the Defense Production Act to clear manufacturing bottlenecks for hoses to fight fires on the ground. With millions of acres burned so far—and beloved landmarks like the General Sherman now in danger—these actions must be taken to protect lives and communities. However, in terms of mitigating the impact of these fires, there’s nothing yet the President can pull from the oven. But things are cooking. On Capitol Hill, Congress is considering two measures that would make substantial investments in wildfire mitigation. Earlier in the summer, the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that contains $1.5 billion for hazardous fuel treatments and a new $500 million program to help communities update and implement Community Wildfire Protection Plans. And now, the House is negotiating the budget reconciliation process—the other part of Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. As part of that 10-year, multi-trillion package, the House Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources have included over $15 billion for hazardous fuel treatments, hundreds of millions to State, Tribal, and local firefighters to help them with equipment and training to tackle wildfires, and billions to help communities create fuel projects, do treatments on private lands, and clear defensible space around structures. These are all investments that will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and blunt their impacts on communities. In July, then U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, testifying before a Senate Committee, called for a “paradigm shift” in the country’s investment in land management for wildfire mitigation—a doubling to a quadrupling of current forest fuel treatments. After decades of neglect, forests full of burnable material, and now a more arid climate, the billions now under consideration in Congress answer that call. However, if the U.S. is truly going to get ahead of this problem, we need true paradigm shifts in all areas of Outthink Wildfire™, including retrofitting homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI), following the latest codes and best land use practices, and educating residents on steps they need to take to reduce their own risk. Every leader, from the President down to governors, county managers, and mayors, should echo these calls to action. Learn more about the five key tenets of Outthink Wildfire at nfpa.org/wildfirepolicy.    

Impressive lineup on tap for October 5 NFPA conference centered around industrial, chemical, and emerging tech issues

Well-known industry experts and NFPA technical staff are set to discuss energy storage systems (ESS), natural gases, flammable liquids, fuel gases, petroleum, combustible dust, hot work, and other topics during a one-day virtual NFPA conference on Tuesday, October 5.   The forward-thinking Keeping Hazardous Environments Safe program is designed for those that work in industrial settings, the chemical and petrochemical sectors, emergency management, plant operations, occupational health and safety, code enforcement, the fire service, and the energy field. Lessons learned, prescriptive approaches, and workplace challenges will be shared during educational sessions, industry roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, live chat exchanges, and sponsor demonstrations.   The Keeping Hazardous Environments Safe conference boasts an impressive lineup of NFPA staff, guest speakers, and industry panelists. It is the 5th program in the virtual 125th Anniversary Conference Series which replaced the traditional in-person 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo. Here is a snapshot of the day’s agenda (more detailed session information can be found on the conference registration site):   Hot Work in Industrial Facilities - Laura Moreno, NFPA Standards Lead, Industrial and Chemical Safety and Kevin Carr, NFPA Specialist NFPA 30: The Risk Management Paradigm of Ignitible (Flammable and Combustible) Liquids and Your Facility - Mike Marando, NFPA Senior Engineer, NFPA 30 Staff Liaison and Alwin Kelly, Senior Engineer, Jensen Hughes, NFPA 30 Technical Committee Member NFPA 30: Revisiting Fire Risks of Composite IBCs; A Global View - Mike Snyder, DEKRA Process Safety and Nicolas Lochet, Allianz Global Risk Consulting NFPA 54, Working Safely with Fuel Gas - Guy Colonna, Principal Engineer, FSL Consulting LLC NFPA 58: An Ongoing History of Taming the Flame - Bruce Sweicicki, P.E., Senior Technical Advisor, NPGA Emergency Preparedness for Industrial Facilities Near Communities - Bernard W. Leong, PE, Chief Fire Protection Engineer, Chevron and Eric LaVergne, Williams Fire & Hazard Control/JCI Panel Discussion Part 1: Energy Storage Systems and Surprise, AZ - Bob Sullivan, NFPA Regional Director Southwest (Moderator), Brian O'Connor, P.E., Engineer, and other industry experts NFPA 652: Dust Hazard Analysis 101 - Chris Cloney, PhD, Managing Director and Lead Researcher, DustEx Research Panel Discussion Part 2: Energy Storage Systems, Preventing Disaster – Bob Sullivan, NFPA Regional Director Southwest (Moderator), Brian O'Connor, P.E., Engineer, and other industry experts NFPA 715: Combustible Gas Dispersion Detector Location Analysis - Noah L. Ryder, PhD, PE, MBA, Managing Partner, Fire & Risk Alliance, LLC, and Scott Davis, President and Principal Engineer, Gexcon Live! Industry Round Table: Putting it All On the Table - Jon Hart, NFPA Technical Lead, Principal Fire Protection Engineer (Moderator), Kirk M. Sander, Chief of Staff and Vice President, Safety and Standards, National Waste & Recycling Association, Bernard W. Leong, PE, Chief Fire Protection Engineer, Chevron, and Alwin Kelly, Senior Engineer, Jensen Hughes Dial in on October 5 to earn up to five credit hours (0.5 CEU), then earn an additional five credit hours later – for a total of 10 credit hours (1.0 CEU). Or access all content via on-demand at your leisure for up to a year beginning on October 5. Either way – register today in the interest of safety!

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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