AUTHOR: Susan McKelvey

Fireworks

Reported fireworks injuries increased by 56 percent in 2020, underscoring the dangers of consumer fireworks

As July 4 weekend approaches, a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reinforces the long-held position of NFPA to avoid consumer fireworks.   In 2020, an estimated 15,600 people were seen for fireworks-related injuries at hospital emergency departments, reflecting the highest estimate seen in more than 15 years, according to data collected by CPSC. According to their press release, this spike was likely due to public fireworks displays being cancelled and more people turning to consumer fireworks to celebrate. NFPA strongly recommends only attending public shows put on by trained professionals. Fireworks in the hands of consumers can cause serious injury and damage due to their unpredictability. According to NFPA data, an estimated 19,500 fires in the US were started by fireworks in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths and 46 injuries to civilians and $105 million in property damage. More than one-quarter (28 percent) of fireworks fires from 2014-18 occurred on July 4; approximately half (49 percent) of all fires reported on that day are caused by fireworks. In addition, CPSC statistics show that U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 non-occupational fireworks related injuries; burns accounted for 44 percent of the fireworks injuries seen in the month around July 4. Half of the fireworks injuries seen at emergency rooms around the month of July 4 in 2018 were to extremities, particularly the hand or finger, or leg. One-third were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children ages 10-14 had the highest rate of fireworks injury, with more than one-third (36 percent) of the victims of fireworks injuries in this period under age 15. A study from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that the number of upper-extremity fireworks-related injuries increased significantly from 2008 (2,576 injuries) to 2017 (5,101). This corresponded with a 41 percent increase in consumer firework sales from the same timeframe. While fireworks pose preventable risks to consumers, the injuries and damage they incur also unnecessarily tax responding fire departments, as well emergency room workers, who are called upon to address these incidents. First and second responders have been through enough over the past year and a half. Let’s all do our part to lighten their load this July 4, keeping ourselves and others safe in the process. Leave fireworks to the professionals and have a safe, festive holiday For more facts and information about fireworks, visit NFPA’s fireworks page.
People putting their hands together

NFPA to host “Community Risk Reduction: Insights into Action,” a one-day virtual event providing solutions, tools, and strategies to effectively identify and mitigate community risks

NFPA will be hosting “Community Risk Reduction: Insights into Action,” an online event that focuses on the issues fire departments and other public safety officials often face in mitigating safety risks, along with solutions, tools, and strategies to address them. To be held on Tuesday, July 20, the full-day program is part of the association’s virtual 125th Anniversary Conference Series, which replaces the traditional in-person 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo and runs from May 2021 through March 2022. “Community Risk Reduction: Insights into Action” will reinforce the critical importance of conducting a community risk assessment (CRA) as the first step in creating a community risk reduction (CRR) plan, the invaluable contributions partners and stakeholders bring to the CRR table, and the value of leveraging NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development as a unifying framework, among other issues. Whether you are new to CRR, getting knee-deep into the CRR waters, or are a savvy influencer in the CRR space, attendees will gain vital insights that advance local prevention initiatives in actionable ways. Several of the day’s presenters will speak to the role of risk assessments in developing buy-in from peers and colleagues, building external relationships, and driving effective CRR efforts. Attendees will also hear the challenges their peers have faced in developing and implementing CRR plans - along with the ways they overcame those obstacles - highlighting the positive impact that CRR can have with the right tools, resources, and know-how. Attendees can tune in live to earn up to five credit hours (0.5 CEU) and earn an additional five credit hours on-demand for a total of 10 credit hours (1.0 CEU). Alternatively, the content can all be viewed on-demand for a total of 10 credit hours (1.0 CEU). All programs will be available on-demand for up to a year starting on July 20. Registration for “Community Risk Reduction: Insights into Action” is now open. Check out the full list of sessions to review all the presentations offered throughout the day. Also, find more information about the entire NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series at www.nfpa.org/conferenceseries.
High-rise buildings in the city

REMINDER: Final days to sign up for “Keeping You Informed: The Big Wide World of Building and Life Safety” on Tuesday, June 22

On Tuesday, June 22, NFPA is hosting “Keeping You Informed: The Big Wide World of Building and Life Safety,” a one-day program addressing some of today’s leading building and life safety issues, opportunities, and challenges. The program is part of the association’s virtual 125th Anniversary Conference Series, which replaces the traditional in-person 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo and runs from May 2021 through March 2022. “Keeping You Informed: The Big Wide World of Building and Life Safety” will cover a wide range of topics that facility managers, AHJs, building owners, code officials and enforcers, among others, are facing - from construction site fires, remote virtual inspections (RVI), and potential fire risks posed by facilities that grow, process, and extract cannabis, to emerging technologies like drones and 3D printing. Additional key sessions will provide updates to the new 2021 editions of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® and NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code. The day will also include industry roundtable discussions, networking events, and live chats with industry experts and NFPA staff. Attendees can tune in live to earn up to five credit hours (0.5 CEU) and earn an additional five credit hours on-demand for a total of 10 credit hours (1.0 CEU). Alternatively, the content can all be viewed on-demand for a total of 10 credit hours (1.0 CEU). All programs will be available on-demand for up to a year starting on June 22. Enter the promo code BLS125 during checkout to register yourself for $98 and to register a friend at no cost. Check out the full list of sessions to review all the presentations offered throughout “Keeping You Informed: The Big Wide World of Building and Life Safety”. Also, find more information about the entire NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series at nfpa.org/conferenceseries.
Fire doors

As buildings re-open, fire door and opening protectives ITM is critical to occupant safety

During the pandemic, many ITM programs were put on the back burner as facilities worked to keep building occupants safe from the virus, which included implementing social distancing strategies, meeting the demand for hand sanitizer, and more frequent cleaning, among other new requirements. As buildings begin to transition back to normal operations, it’s a critical time to re-examine and revamp fire door and opening protectives ITM programs to ensure adequate levels of occupant safety, including compliance with NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. NFPA 80 requires that fire doors and other opening protectives such as shutters and windows are operable at all times. Operability of these systems includes opening, closing and latching. Fire doors must be kept closed and latched or arranged to provide automatic closing during the time of a fire. In addition, blocking or wedging of doors in the open position is prohibited, as it violates the required operation and closing feature of the door. These requirements are particularly important to consider as buildings begin to re-open while continuing efforts to keep people safe from the coronavirus.  In the beginning of 2020, when the threat of COVID-19 was growing but buildings hadn’t shut down yet, there were reports of doors being propped open so that people wouldn’t have to touch them. As occupancies begin to open, it’s conceivable that these types of scenarios may occur once again. This is a serious concern, as interfering with fire door operation can have grave consequences during a fire. In addition, allowing fire doors to be held open runs a risk of this becoming an accepted practice in the building for any number of situations. Building residents and staff should be taught code-compliant solutions and not get into a habit of overriding fire safe practices. Anything that could prevent the door from closing and latching properly during an emergency condition such as propping the door open with objects, taping the latch, using wood wedges or kick-down door stops, or overriding the closing device, is a violation of the standards. If they are to be effective, fire doors must be not only closed but also held closed. Building fires are capable of generating pressures sufficient to force fire doors open if they are not held closed with enough latching force, thereby rendering the doors incapable of protecting the opening in which they are installed and potentially allowing the fire to spread to an adjacent space and beyond the compartment of origin. To learn more about what’s required to ensure adequate levels of safety around fire doors and opening protectives, sign up to attend “Re-Vamping Your Fire Door and Opening Protectives ITM Program” on Tuesday, June 22, 4-5pm EST. Hosted by Shawn Mahoney and Jen Sisco of NFPA, this session is part of “Keeping Your Informed: The Big Wide World of Building and Life Safety”, a full-day program covering a wide range of issues, challenges, and opportunities facing today’s building and life safety professionals and practitioners.  Register by June 18 using the code BLS125 and receive a free, full-day pass for a friend.
Cannabis growing facility

Application deadline to serve on the NFPA 420, Standard on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities Technical Committee is June 15

The NFPA Standards Council recently approved the development of NFPA 420, Standard on Fire Protection of Cannabis Growing and Processing Facilities. Originally proposed in response to serious fires that have occurred at cannabis facilities in recent years, the new standard will provide clear guidance on fire protection standards for facilities that produce, process and extract cannabis. The deadline to submit an application to serve on the NFPA 420 Technical Committee was June 15. Any applications received after the June 15 deadline will be considered by the Council at the December meeting. To learn more about the primary fire and life safety hazards at cannabis growing and extraction/processing facilities, as well as best practices to safely run these facilities, NFPA is hosting a two-hour Fire and Life Safety Hazards in Cannabis Cultivation and Processing Facilities presentation on June 22, 10:30-12:30 EST. Presented by Kristin Bigda and Val Ziavras of NFPA, the session is one of several online presentations that day addressing timely issues facing building and life safety professionals and practitioners. Learn more about all this and the wide array of sessions planned in support of the NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series at www.nfpa.org/conferenceseries. Use the BLS125 code to attend the full-day conference and get free, full-day access for a friend. Visit the NFPA cannabis fire and life safety page to access and/or download a wide range of information and resources on fire protection at cannabis facilities.

Four key tips that can help significantly reduce the risk of construction site fires

In the U.S., a fire occurs at a building under construction every 90 minutes, on average, according to NFPA data. Construction sites are notoriously rife with fuel, including piles of trash and excess building materials. Combine that with no shortage of ignition sources, ranging from heating and cooking equipment to welding and other hot-work activities, as well as the fact that fire protection systems like sprinklers may not yet be active. These factors contribute to an environment primed for a devastating fire. But in most cases the risk for these fires can be reduced with the proper planning and provisions in place. During a recent NFPA webinar, a panel of fire and life safety professionals discussed the factors that frequently contribute to construction site fires, offering key insights that can help minimize associated hazards and risks. Create a fire safety plan Having a fire prevention program is a central element of NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations and is critical to ensuring safety. However, every building construction site is unique and presents its own set of challenges. No matter the scope of the job, there are different variables that can impact fire prevention and safety. Having a plan that spells out how these issues will be addressed and lays the groundwork for minimizing risks during each phase of the project. It’s important to note that while NFPA 241 does not spell out all of the specifics of the fire prevention program; it does provide the framework for the project-specific information that a fire prevention plan must include, including the required provisions to ensure that everything on site is done correctly and safely. Designate a fire prevention program manager Designating a fire prevention program manager, or FPPM, who is responsible for carrying out and enforcing the plan and other applicable fire protection standards, is paramount to minimizing risk. But the FPPM is not a one size fits all role; the needed qualifications depend on the scope of the project. It’s the project owner’s responsibility to designate a FPPM and to remain involved in the project through completion, as the owner is ultimately responsible for loss prevention. Anyone who wants to be more prepared and knowledgeable as an FPPM should get the needed training. NFPA 241 doesn’t prescribe specific qualifications needed to be an FPPM, but it generally covers the issues that an FPPM needs to speak to and their overall responsibilities and expectations. You may come from many different backgrounds with different knowledge bases, to serve in the FPPM role. Understand construction site fire hazards In order to reduce the risk of fire hazards at a construction site, it’s up to the FPPM to understand the leading causes of fires while a building is under construction, such as hot work and the accumulation of combustible wase, and the ways those hazards can be minimized. While an FPPM is sometimes perceived as creating hurdles that can slow down the construction process, by implementing the proper planning, many of those issues can be relieved. Communicate with all parties Communication among all parties is critical to the success of a project.  The more authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and all other parties communicate and collaborate, the more efficiently things can be accomplished. The full webinar was held in April. Hosted by Matt Klaus, Director of Technical Services at NFPA, the discussion included the following participants: Jim Begley, PE, FSFPE, CFM, Principal at TERPconsulting; Matthew Bourque, PE, Director of Fire Protection and Construction Operations at WS Development; Dick Davis, PE, FSFPE, Sr Engineeering Technical Specialist at FM Global, AVP; and Nicholas Dawe, Division Chief/Fire Marshal at Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services.  The full discussion is available to listen to here. In addition, NFPA offers a series of resources around buildings under construction, including a Construction Site Fire Safety Fact Sheet, to help contractors, building owners and managers, code officials and enforcers, and AHJs better understand the requirements and guidelines within NFPA 241, and to ensure that all parties involved in the construction process have the tools and support to adequately adhere to them.
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