AUTHOR: Jacqueline R. Wilmot, P.E.

How Long Does It Take for your 911 Call to Be Answered?

This was the question the NFPA technical committee responsible for writing NFPA 1225, Standard for Emergency services Communications, asked in the last revision cycle, while reviewing the existing language on this subject. A public safety answering/access point (PSAP) refers to the call center where emergency calls for the police, fire department or EMS are received from mobile or landline callers/subscribers. The 2022 edition of NFPA 1225 calls out two time-standards for dispatch: Answer requests for emergency assistance within 10 seconds 90% of the time Process the request for emergency assistance within 60 seconds 90% of the time. The standard defines “Call Answering” as the time from when the call is initiated by the caller to when it is answered by a PSAP. “Call Processing” is defined by the standard as the time from when the call is answered to when the first Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is dispatched. The NFPA Technical Committee knew these old provisions were based on the experience of the technical committee members and there was no research to suggest that these times fit the physical limitations of a communication center. Further, Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) would often question the validity of these provisions. Enter: The Fire Protection Research Foundation. This research request came from the NFPA 1225 Technical Committee and the NFPA Research Fund was able to provide the required funding to dig into these questions further. The goal of this project is to collect, analyze and summarize the call answer and processing time interval data in response to the fire and EMS events (excluding law enforcement event data) from a wide range of PSAP dispatch centers (i.e. large, small, urban, rural etc.) in the United States. The research contractor, Public Consulting Group, performed a literature review to identify common concerns for PSAPs including staffing limitations, insufficient funding, and technological issues.  PCG developed a survey questionnaire to circulate to PSAPs throughout the US, conducted a statistical analysis on the data collected and compiled all the findings and summary observations into a final report titled: “An Analysis of Public Safety Call Answering and event Processing Times”. The one-page summary provides key takeaways from the research report. There are over 6,000 active PSAPs in the US. 52 organizations submitted the requested data and 47 of those datasets are in the format consistent with the needs of this study. While this data represents less than one percent of PSAPs, in analyzing the data that was collected, PSAPs were only able to achieve the minimum time standards set by NFPA 1225, 40-50 percent of the time. It was noted that PSAPs who stated that they follow a written standard were compliant significantly more often than those who did not. Specifically, agencies that stated they follow the times described in NFPA 1225 (previously NFPA 1221, Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems, had 65% of their calls found to be compliant, versus only 27% compliance in the calls processed by agencies not following an NFPA standard. Analyzing these records, the 90th percentile for call processing times is more than twice the recommended time specified in NFPA 1225. However, records from agencies that follow written standards are compliant more than twice as often as the records from agencies without a standard. Agencies following NFPA Standards are identified to be most successful in this study. Interested in reading the report, download it here. Only have a minute? Check out this one-page project summary sheet you can share with others. Do you have a research need? Please submit it to us using the project idea submission tool. We look forward to hearing from you!  
Magnifying glass and book

What are Your Research Needs?

We are in the process of gathering research ideas submitted by you or others who have a fire protection or life safety research need. Research requests are not required to be tied to a specific code or standard and there is no project too small or too large for us to handle. While some projects aim to compile available data on a particular topic, others can address two opposing views on an issue or provide information for committees to discuss around an emerging technical issue. To give you a better idea, recently published Research Fund projects include: Carbon Monoxide Incidents: A Review of the Data Landscape Evaluating Data and Voice Signals in Pathway Survivable Cables for Life Safety Systems Fires in Animal Housing Facilities A complete list of previous projects can be found on the NFPA Research Fund website. The submission deadline (for consideration of 2023 projects) is January 31, 2023. To submit a proposed research project, please formulate your research idea using this project idea form and submit it via our online project idea submission portal. Note, you will need to sign into your NFPA account or create a free profile to access this portal. The project idea form and other information about the Research Fund can be found at The criteria for selection will include consistency with the Foundation operating principles and vetting criteria, relevance to mission, anticipated cost/benefit, no other obvious funders, sense of urgency, and the potential for the project to be a starting point for a larger constituency funded effort. If you have questions or have an idea and you are not sure where to begin, please feel free to contact us.  The NFPA Research Fund was established in 2006 and is supported each year by a generous financial contribution from NFPA. The purpose of the Research Fund is to stimulate and provide a mechanism for facilitating research to support the work of NFPA Technical Committees. 

Do You Travel with a Portable CO Alarm? If not, you should, and here’s why

Being raised by a volunteer firefighter, I was taught at a young age to always look for my 2nd exit, and when traveling to never to stay above the 4th floor because fire department ladders rarely reach above the fourth floor. It was also pretty “normal” for us to travel with a portable Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm. Why? Because CO poisoning incidents in hotels are not uncommon and regulations on CO detection differ significantly from state to state. While there are multiple sources which provide CO incident data, each organization contains its own methodology for collecting information and providing statistics; However, it is not clear what specific information is being collected, disseminated, and represented for each incident type. The Fire Protection Research Foundation recently published a report titled: “Carbon Monoxide Incidents: A Review of the Data Landscape” which reviews and presents the CO incident data landscape to clarify the sources of information, how the data is compiled and what the data represents. Additionally, the report identifies, summarized, and analyzes case studies of non-fire carbon monoxide incidents specific to commercial-type occupancies to provide a greater understanding to the NFPA technical committees responsible for NFPA 101, Life Safety Code ® and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code ®.  Be on the lookout for the Second Draft Reports from these committees in February of 2023 to see what changes have been made. A one-page summary of the Foundation report provides key takeaways. PS: If your CO alarm is your in carry-on bag, be sure you can access it quickly while going through TSA security, as mine is always “inspected”!  

Fire Protection Research Foundation Hosts Annual Suppression & Detection Conference Highlighting Research in Energy Storage Systems, Special Suppression Applications, Storage Applications, & Foam

Think about where you are. Close your eyes and take a minute to count all the devices which have batteries in the room you are currently occupying. Three instantly pop up in my mind: my laptop, my phone, and our robot vacuum I can hear, making its way down the hall. These are all devices that store energy in one way or another. How many devices did you count? If you are in your office while reading this, chances are, you thought of the same devices I did. What about our basements or garages? Do you have an electric vehicle? If the room you are occupying caught fire, how would these devices impact that fire? If you are in a commercial office, would the fire protection system be designed to protect against such hazards? These issues are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the questions researchers are asking in the fire protection and life safety world. To collaborate with researchers and other industry stakeholders, The Fire Protection Research Foundation hosts a technical conference held annually called “SupDet”, which focuses on specific research applications in the Suppression (hence “Sup”), and Detection (“Det”) industries. The Fire Protection Research Foundation hosted the 18th SupDet conference this week in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Garner Palenske of WJE, kicked off the suppression portion of the conference by providing the keynote, which focused on the impact suppression research has made in the fire protection industry. Afterall, there is a reason that the first edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, published in 1896 was only 25 pages, and the most recent 2022 edition of NFPA 13 has over 500 pages. As our environment changes, so do the hazards and how standards address these emerging technologies. While Mr. Palenske reviewed several examples of “game changers” in the industry from the studies of obstructions to the protection energy storage systems, he also emphasized the research needed as we look forward into the future, highlighting topics of forensic and wildfire as well as flue spaces and lithium-ion work in areas beyond automotive. The suppression education sessions focused on 5 key areas: energy storage systems, special suppression applications, storage applications, foam, and other emerging issues. Dr. Noah Ryder of Fire & Risk Alliance, LLC, spoke on a few topics, but the presentation on the challenges, solutions and best practices in energy storage was exceptionally intriguing as he asked the audience the same questions, I asked each of you at the beginning of this blog. Dr. Ryder took a deeper look into the challenges being faced by the industry including the evolving application of storing energy in a multitude of devices and therefore locations that never hosted such potential hazards and how to best protect these spaces. More specifically he reviewed computational fluid dynamics (CFD), thermal runaway, cooling, separation, and thermal barriers as well as testing and suppression approaches. Dr. Ryder explained the reactive and lagging codes as well as the inconsistent adoption of such codes as well as how further research is needed to recognize the role batteries play in our environment to close these gaps. If you missed SupDet, be on the lookout for the proceedings as they will be posted shortly on the 2022 SupDet website!

“Research: the distance between an idea and its realization” – David Sarnoff, Pioneer of American radio and television

This was the quote used by Rodger Reiswig of JCI last week in his keynote to kick off the Detection portion of the 18th Annual SupDet program hosted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation in Atlanta, GA.  The Fire Protection Research Foundation hosts a technical conference held annually called “SupDet”, which focuses on specific research applications in the Suppression (hence “Sup”), and Detection (“Det”) industries. Mr. Reiswig continued to highlight the impact research has made in the in the fire protection industry. This year, the detection portion of the conference focused on research in several critical areas including detection and signaling for First Responders, Residential Spaces, Wildfire and Smart Technology Systems. Maria Marks, of Siemens, and Jason Webb, Potter Electric Signals, presented on Fire Prevention and Code Compliance in the Age of Information and Automation. As the Internet of Things and the Cloud continue to evolve, the Maria and Jason discussed the impact to life safety systems. Their passion was evident as they described the methods in which systems are being monitored, inspected, and tested, via unmanned equipment such as drones, and robots, as well as handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones. Maria and Jason further explained the benefits and concerns associated with such tasks and even went into how specific NFPA codes and standards (provided below) address automated inspection, testing, and maintenance. NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation for Standpipe and Hose Systems NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Fire Pumps for Fire Protection NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code ® NFPA 915, Standard for Remote Inspections (proposed standard) If you missed SupDet, the slides from the presentations will be posted shortly on the SupDet website!
Sprinkler pipe

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