AUTHOR: Cathy Longley

Chevy Bolt

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues safety warning about Chevy Bolt

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a warning to owners of 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolts, urging them not to park in garages or near structures and to refrain from overnight charging. In November, General Motors recalled more than 50,000 Chevy Bolts due to potential fire risks posed by high-voltage batteries underneath the back seat. Battery packs can smoke and ignite – regardless of whether the vehicle has gone through the recall repair process or not. In the most recent alert, NHTSA reported that two Chevy Bolt fires occurred in vehicles that had gone through the recall remedy. NFPA and organizations like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been working to educate audiences about electric vehicles (EV), particularly first responders.  Over the last twelve years, NFPA has worked with every auto/truck/bus manufacturer who sells EVs and hybrids in this country and has received pre-market safety information so that responders have the most up-to-date training, tools, and resources. The NFPA EV Safety Training website is the most accessed repository in the U.S. for EV responder safety information. NTSB also investigated four unrelated EV incidents and released a thorough report in November on hazards and gaps. Earlier this year, NFPA covered this topic when two occupants of a Tesla were killed in a fiery crash in Texas. Then right before the high-travel Memorial Day holiday weekend, NFPA collaborated with major fire organizations to get the word out about the unique challenges associated with EVs. To keep pace with an influx of energy-efficient cars on the roadways, NFPA applied for and secured two new Department of Energy (DOE) grants. The first, entitled NFPA Spurs the Safe Adoption of EVs through Education and Outreach, will allow NFPA to develop free EV awareness training for utilities, code officials, charging station installers, EV fleet owners, tow and salvage responders, crash reconstruction teams, manufacturers, dealerships, garage maintenance workers, insurance companies, and EV owners. A second effort calls for enhancing and promoting an NFPA Distributed Energy Resources Safety Training program. NFPA will update its current EV Safety classroom training for the fire service and develop an online gamification version of the distributed energy resource including how to respond to electric vehicle fires. To learn more about EV safety, visit www.nfpa.org/EV
MENA group at conference

NFPA now offers Middle East and North Africa solutions page in Arabic

NFPA has launched a new Middle East and North Africa (MENA) solutions page in Arabic as part of its 125th Anniversary commitment to serving global stakeholders. The new microsite introduces building, electrical, fire, and life safety workers in MENA territories to the NFPA codes, standards, training and certification resources that are paramount for keeping pace with progress. Countries within the MENA region have experienced incredible growth over the last 25 years. The breakneck speed of development in the Gulf Region has led to electrical, fire protection, code enforcement, and inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) challenges like those experienced in the US and other countries over the last century – only in the Middle East and North Africa, safety issues are presenting in a more condensed, concerning manner. NFPA has spent decades working with government authorities and private entities in the Middle East to reduce risk, but this marks the first time the association has promoted relevant resources in Arabic for those charged with protecting people and property. NFPA is making its resources accessible to more than 400 million Arabic speaking people in Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Anas Alzaid, the local NFPA representative in Saudi Arabia, assesses local safety concerns; builds relationships; develops safety strategies with existing and new alliances; and represents NFPA in regulatory, legislative, and technical circles.   Alzaid has identified the following NFPA guidance as priority solutions for cultivating an effective safety infrastructure throughout the burgeoning region:     NFPA 1 The Fire Code NFPA 13 The Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems NFPA 20 Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection and NFPA 25 Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems  NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code and NFPA 58 Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code NFPA 70® National Electrical Code® and NFPA 70E® Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® NFPA 72 The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code® NFPA 101® The Life Safety Code®   The new Arabic solutions page also provides information on a wide array of online and in-person training offerings, as well as classroom training programs that assist professionals looking to prepare for certification. Trainings are based on the job requirements and proficiencies found in NFPA codes, standards, and handbooks. “NFPA is synonymous with fire prevention and safety all over the world and has identified MENA as a priority region. Promoting NFPA codes, standards, and training solutions in Arabic so that stakeholders can understand the level of expertise it takes to establish a solid infrastructure, no matter the pace of development, is a great first step,” Alzaid said. “The new NFPA Arabic solutions page comes at a critical time in MENA’s history, and shows at-a-glance, the various steps it will take to connect the dots on safety in the Gulf Region.”

At least 52 dead in factory fire; Ecosystem failures continue in Bangladesh

Once again, a factory fire in Bangladesh has taken the lives of more than 50 workers and injured at least 20, underscoring catastrophic and systemic life safety challenges in that country. The latest incident is a prime example of a region that is and has been for quite some time, challenged by every component of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™. According to Reuters, the building featured two stairways, which were inaccessible during the fire. Some workers fled to the roof and were rescued, but many others were trapped or jumped out of windows. Associated Press quoted a fire official saying that the main exit was locked from the inside. This is not the first time we have heard this story from Bangladesh or from the United States, for that matter. Nearly fifteen years after NFPA was born, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire occurred in Greenwich Village (NY) on March 25, 1911. That horrific incident remains one of the deadliest industrial disasters in U.S. history with more than 146 garment workers killed – mostly from smoke inhalation or from jumping to their death due to locked stairwells and exits. Bangladesh has struggled with factory safety for quite some time. Back in 2014, NFPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (the Alliance) to work together to provide information, guidance, and access to resources in the interest of worker health and safety. NFPA and the Alliance recognized that cooperative and parallel efforts by the government and non-government organizations were important to achieving success. So, the Alliance identified a sample of 14 factories undergoing remediation at the time. A project team visited those sites, observed building operations, and interviewed key stakeholders from the fire and building professions, and then NFPA made recommendations for the Alliance, government officials, and others to explore or undertake. In 2016, NFPA released the Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment (RMG) Industry High-Level Assessment Report which included an appraisal and gap analysis of Bangladesh fire and building safety standards, protocols, inspection procedures, and training programs. The report referenced short-term and long-term recommendations for sustainable electrical, fire and life safety in Bangladesh manufacturing facilities. The gaps identified at that time and those that are coming into focus as this week’s story unfolds reminds us of the Ecosystem. For example: Authorities in Bangladesh need to have policies in place and practiced consistently throughout the country (Government Responsibility). Current codes need to be developed and used – just like NFPA building and fire codes which are developed and then maintained on a regular basis via a consensus process (Development and Use of Current Codes). As part of those current codes, there are a plethora of referenced standards, many from NFPA, that can be utilized so the fire safety wheel does not have to be reinvented (Referenced Standards). Businesses and the government must invest in safety. First steps were taken with the Alliance MOU and assessment report years ago, but did action follow? Safety requires the right decisions to be made by authorities (An Investment in Safety). Training is required for those that design, construct, and maintain factories (Skilled Workforce). Fire code inspections and enforcement are essential for ensuring that exits, doors, and stairwells are fully operational at all times (Code Compliance). First responders need resources to do their job – especially unimpeded access to incidents and water to suppress fires (Preparedness and Emergency Response). And the public, including workers, need to understand fire safety and escape strategies (Informed Public). Our hearts go out to the people of Bangladesh but it takes more than good thoughts to bring about change. By using the RMG report and the Ecosystem, officials in Bangladesh can and should connect the dots on safety.
NFPA's anniversary 125th art

New NFPA 3D artwork with pop-up descriptions showcases 125 years of safety incidents, initiatives, and influencers

NFPA invites safety professionals and practitioners, as well as the public, to peruse some of the most prominent issues, emerging threats, and forward-thinkers on display in a new, dynamic 3D artwork piece that was commissioned to celebrate the 125th anniversary of NFPA. “How do you capture people’s attention and break through the clutter to tell a story that began 125 years ago, a story that evolves daily, that spans every industry, and do so in a way that is compelling? Visually, of course,” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said. “In recent years, global citizens and NFPA have embraced the digital delivery of engaging, visual content, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate this important milestone with a visual recap of the life-altering work that has occurred over the last dozen decades and the industry influencers who have led the way. I hope our 125th Anniversary 3D collection creatively conveys some of the ways that NFPA has worked with like-minded organizations and individuals to reduce loss and, more importantly, that the artwork inspires people around the world to take an active role in protecting people and property. Because the work we do matters.” If, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, the new visual retrospective will tell powerful stories about the progress that has been made in fire, electrical, building, and life safety since 1896; the holistic approach that is required to reduce risk; and the challenges that remain before us. Back in 1896, NFPA began advancing safety in a new industrialized nation by facilitating the development of codes and standards – initially to help solve challenges with sprinklers and electrical systems. In the years since, the NFPA standards development process has morphed significantly. Today, volunteers from 42 countries fill more than 9,000 NFPA technical committee seats and produce over 325 consensus codes and standards, and 40,000 members look to the organization for relevant resources and technical expertise. As it moves deeper into its second century, NFPA is considered an information and knowledge leader, highly regarded for developing codes and standards, conducting research, providing data, educating audiences on safety hazards, training stakeholders on best practices, highlighting policy issues, offering digital solutions, and for connecting the dots on safety with its Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem. To get a better understanding of the full breadth of NFPA, the many industries it serves, the leadership role it plays in the interest of society, and the myriad of safety hazards on the organization’s radar: Visit www.nfpa.org Subscribe to NFPA newsletters Read blogs and NFPA Journal® Tune into podcasts or Learn Something New videos Engage with members and experts on NFPA Xchange Follow the organization and issues on social media We all play a role in safety. Visit www.nfpa.org/125th for more on the NFPA 125th Anniversary, a milestone that could not have been achieved without collaboration and commitment from a wide range of stakeholders.

NFPA completes election of Board of Directors

NFPA completed the election of its current slate of directors, including one new member, during the organization’s virtual annual meeting this week. Amy Acton, a burn survivor, former burn nurse and nurse manager, and CEO of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, is serving her second year of a two-year term as chair. Acton became the second female chair of the NFPA Board in the organization’s 125-year history last year. The affirmed slate of officers includes Russell Leavitt as first vice chair, R. David Paulison as second vice chair, John Bonney as secretary, Donald Cook and Kwame Cooper as assistant secretaries, Roger Montembeault as treasurer, Michael Wallace as assistant treasurer, and Keith Williams as immediate past chair. Raj Arora was elected as a new director on the NFPA Board. Arora has more than 20 years’ experience working in all facets of fire protection. He is the CEO of Jensen Hughes - a safety, security, and risk-based engineering, and consulting firm based in Baltimore, Maryland, a role he has held since 2019. Before that, Arora served as the consultancy’s president of strategy and business development, leading the company’s software innovation, business development, marketing, communications, strategy, and mergers and acquisitions operations. His first professional role upon graduating college was at Tyco International, a firm he returned to (now Johnson Controls) five years prior to joining Jensen Hughes, where he ultimately rose to vice president and general manager of fire detection and special hazards products. Arora also spent 10 years as executive vice president of Arora Engineers and Arora Systems Group, overseeing profit and loss operations, quality assurance and control, and business development. A University of Maryland graduate, Arora has been recognized with multiple awards during his years in the fire protection industry, including Johnson Controls’ Chairman’s Award for Accountability in 2016, the company’s highest employee honor. Arora has also been honored with the University of Maryland Clark School of Engineering’s Early Career Award, the Tyco CEO Award for Teamwork, Consulting-Specifying Engineer Magazine’s Top 40 under 40, and The Engineers Club of Philadelphia Young Engineer of the Year award in 2008. Arora joins NFPA Board of Directors members Brion Callori, Reginald Freeman, William Fries, and Lou Paulson, who were elected to their second three-year terms.

Massachusetts lawmakers still seeking reform on hot work after two Boston firefighters died in tragic Back Bay fire caused by welders

Lawmakers, fire service leaders, fire prevention professionals, and NFPA representatives participated in a legislative hearing last week seeking reforms for hot work, cutting, and welding after two Boston firefighters were killed in a fast-moving fire in a Back Bay brownstone in 2014. The proposed bill will better protect people, property, and first responders by ensuring that those who perform hot work have met necessary qualifications and those who have not participated in this program are appropriately penalized.  S.1381 An Act implementing the recommendations of the Walsh-Kennedy Report was initially proposed by Senator Nick Collins (S1554) of Boston. Collins is seeking implementation of the recommendations that were made by a special commission in 2015 after welders prompted a fatal fire in a building next door that killed Lieutenant Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy. The commission was charged with determining whether the current state fire code provides adequate protection when it comes to trade workers in the Bay State performing hot work or any work that involves sparks or fires. According to WWLP News, Boston Fire Department (BFD) Commissioner John Dempsey said at the hearing that current fines and penalties for violating cutting, welding, or hot work regulations are “not even a slap on the wrist.” Dempsey said the state needs to implement an initial fine that gets the attention of violators and then institute increasing penalties for second or third offenses. “The fines are so minimal that smaller companies, if they roll the dice, the fine is so little, if they get caught it’s cheaper to pay the fine than it is to hire a fire watch or maybe even pull a permit,” he said. “So, I believe by increasing the fines, this will get their attention.” NFPA research shows that US fire departments responded to an average of 4,580 structure fires involving hot work per year in 2014-2018. These fires caused an average of 22 civilian deaths, 171 civilian injuries, and $484 million in direct property damage per year. Shortly after the Back Bay fire, NFPA worked with the City of Boston and others to create a custom training model based on NFPA 51B Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and other Hot Work, a well-known standard within the fire prevention community. The training was developed with input from those who would be responsible for implementing and enforcing the new ordinance and features specific content so that the training is relevant, targeted, and applicable in the workplace. Trade workers earn a NFPA Hot Work Safety Certificate after successfully learning about hazards and safeguards that can be applied to limit ignition potential from any planned hot work. Workers’ can then apply their understanding and knowledge when reviewing project plans that include hot work. The model has since become a statewide requirement and can be adjusted for other jurisdictions seeking to collaborate with NFPA on safer hot work practices. Nearly 35,000 individuals in Massachusetts have taken the NFPA hot work classroom training and more than 8,000 have met the requirements via an online program. For more on hot work resources, visit nfpa.org/hotwork. Jurisdictions and businesses interested in better protecting people and property from hot work through an initiative similar to those in place in Boston and the state of Massachusetts, can contact Monique Manning.
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