AUTHOR: Victoria Hutchison

How vulnerable are our fire protection systems to cyber-attacks? Let’s talk about it!

We live in a digital and interconnected world. There are endless devices and systems that connect to the internet – from an Instant Pot in your home to sprinkler and fire alarm systems, elevators, automatic lock doors, HVAC systems and countless others. Internet connected systems are vulnerable to a wide range of physical and cyber threats. Cyber actors are constantly looking for vulnerabilities and opportunities to steal valuable information, or disrupt, destroy or threaten the delivery of essential services, for example. As critical infrastructure becomes more integrated with information technology, the probability of more high consequence events is rising.  A quick search shows thousands of fire and life safety systems that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.  Although fire protection systems had minimal vulnerabilities in the past, they are increasingly networked to Building Control Systems (BCS), Internet of Things (IoT), and other platforms that are, by design or oversight, exposed to the public-facing internet. This emerging environment could lead to unique and novel cyber vulnerabilities, and attacks on fire protection systems have the potential to have significant consequences.  Join us for a free virtual workshop on January 26, 2021 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Eastern Time) and February 2, 2021 from 9 a.m. ET to 12 pm (Eastern Time) as we review research findings and engage with industry stakeholder to discuss the expansiveness of cyber vulnerabilities for fire protection systems, the severity of the consequences, mitigation techniques, the role of codes and standards, knowledge gaps, and next steps. This workshop is hosted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, in collaboration with MC Dean, as part of an on-going research project “Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems”, supported by the Foundation’s Facilities Research Consortium and NFPA. Get more information, and register for the Free Virtual “Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems” Workshop here.  
Wildfire Risk Reduction

FPRF Webinar Panel Discussion on “Engaging Local Officials to Bring Sustainability to Wildfire Risk Reduction” is now available

On December 9, 2020, the Fire Protection Research Foundation hosted a webinar to discuss lessons learned from implementers and local officials charged with cultivating long-term wildfire risk reduction and sustainability. Prefaced by an overview of the research findings from a FPRF research study on “Engaging Local Officials for Wildfire Risk Reduction”, the Fire Protection Research Foundation hosted a domestic and international panel to delve into the ways that global wildfire-prone communities are engaging residents and authorities as a way to reduce wildfire risk. During the 1.5-hour exchange, specific examples were shared by implementers and officials from two separate communities - Austin, Texas, and The Girona region of Spain. The panelists explained what is being done to reduce wildfire risks in these areas and the collaborative steps being taken to manage and maintain risk reduction efforts for the long haul. The information-sharing session was co-moderated by Lucian Deaton, from the NFPA Wildfire Division and myself, Victoria Hutchison, research project manager for the Fire Protection Research Foundation. The webinar panelists included: Justice Jones, Wildfire Mitigation Officer with the Austin Fire Department; The Honorable Dr. Alison Alter, Council Member, City of Austin, TX; Oriol Vilalta, Managing Director of the Catalonia, Spain-based, Pau Costa Foundation; and Maria Pipió Adroher, Forest Engineer of the Environmental Service in the Girona Provincial Council, Catalonia, Spain. The full recording of this webinar is available here. Visit for more upcoming NFPA and FPRF webinars and archives.

Convening a global perspective on a global problem  

“Do we have an international wildfire problem that needs an international solution?” This was the question posed to a group of diverse wildfire stakeholders from across the globe at a virtual International Wildfire Workshop, hosted by NFPA in July. This event was a continuation of a June, 2019, workshop with the goal of having discussions about collaborative funding efforts to fulfill global wildfire research needs and how this group can work with NFPA Applied Research and the Fire Protection Research Foundation to collectively identify project needs and funding sources for future work.   The virtual conversation was just the beginning of what promises to be a productive working group that will engage and support future collaboration on research around wildfire science, mitigation and outreach. Although, years ago, destructive wildfires were primarily localized to fire-prone landscapes, this is no longer the case. With the warming climate, communities in Sweden, Greenland, Siberia, among others, are experiencing wildfires where history has shown they were essentially non-existent in the past. Other places, like Northern Europe and Latin America are seeing an increase in wildfires and their impacts.   Destructive and unwanted fires in the landscape are no longer a localized issue, but a global one in need of an international solution. Too often we fail to look outside of our own community, state/province, or even country for solutions to our wildfire challenges. It's time that we not only learn from others around the world, but we work together to holistically address the vast array of research gaps for wildfire safety.  NFPA's virtual workshop gathered a diverse group of participants providing their wildfire insight from various organizations and agencies inChile, Lebanon, South Africa, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.     A few key themes emerged from these discussions as potential research gaps that could be pursued collectively as a group, including: Establishing the common principles of data collection for wildfire and developing a standard and simple means of collecting and analyzing dataabout fire risk, behavior, and impact; Exploring Fire Danger Rating Systems and its use for identifying present fire risk along with long term infrastructure planning; Expanding social research, particularly in developing/third world countries; Identifying the total cost of fire and social equity; and Developing a means of transferring research to practice in developing countries.   Wildfires are one of the greatest challenges of our time .Bringing great minds and organizations together with diverse perspectives to holistically confront the global wildfire challenge is an essential next step.   Photo Credit: Vaccarisses, Catalonia, Spain, 2018. Lucian Deaton, NFPA As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA's response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.
FF Firefighters screeenshot

Fire Protection Research Foundation Project - Female Firefighter PPE Survey Opportunity

Structural and wildland firefighting turnout suits are primarily developed for the male firefighter, despite the growing number of women firefighters in the fire protection community. Studies have shown that women firefighters wear the same turnout suits as their male counterparts and are at a higher risk of injury and fatality due to ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE). Research has also found that female firefighters are wearing turnout suits that are not sized for the female human form and therefore possess an unsatisfactory fit. Sizing data from other organizations have demonstrated the need for uniforms to be designed specifically for women and that simply sizing down the garment is not an appropriate solution. To further address this issue, a research project led by Florida State University and North Carolina State University in collaboration with the Fire Protection Research Foundation, NFPA's research affiliate, was initiated to research and investigate the root causes of design, comfort, and mobility issues of firefighter personal protective clothing for the female human form. For more information, a project summary is available here. This research, funded by DHS/FEMA Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) program, will provide the practical and marketing bases for the initial steps of developing a female turnout suit that meets NFPA standards. To meet the project objectives, it is imperative for the voice of the female first responders in the United States to be heard. Thus, we would like to inform you of an opportunity to participate in a nationwide survey, led by Dr. Meredith McQuerry at Florida State University, to provide feedback on the current design and functionality of female firefighter personal protective clothing. For further information, and the link to the survey, please see the invitation below. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Participant, You are being invited to take part in a research study to collect feedback from female firefighters regarding the design, fit, and mobility of their personal protective clothing. You are being invited to take part in this research study because you are an active-duty female firefighter in the United States. If you volunteer to take part in this study, you will be one of hundreds to do so nationally. This study is being conducted by Dr. Meredith McQuerry (Principal Investigator, PI) of the Retail Entrepreneurship department in the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship at Florida State University. The purpose of this study is to obtain data on the end user's experience and impact from wearing their current turnout suit and/or wildland personal protective clothing, related to improper fit.Responses will be anonymously coded and synthesized to determine the overarching impacts and issues related to the current design and functionality of female firefighter personal protective clothing. If you agree to be in this study, we ask that you complete an online survey gathering information on demographics and your personal protective clothing's fit, mobility, and design. It is estimated that the survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. If you are not currently an active-duty female firefighter in the United States, we ask that you do not complete this survey. I thank you in advance for completing the survey. Meredith McQuerry, PhD Assistant Professor Retail Entrepreneurship Florida State University 236 Shaw Building Tallahasse, FL 32306 (850) 644-6838

Fire Protection Research Foundation 2020 Semi-Annual Activity Summary

This is a semi-annual update on Fire Protection Research Foundation activities. Although we may not be running into you at meetings and conferences these days, or seeing you at NFPA Headquarters - our team remains focused on generating the research needed to reduce loss in our world. Here is a quick summary of our recently completed, on-going and upcoming activities to provide you with the information and knowledge you need to do your job successfully.  For the complete list of current projects, visit here. 2020 Q1 & Q2 Completed Projects Fire Protection Effectiveness of Fluorine Free Firefighting Foams Research Roadmap: Environmental Impact of Fires in the Built Environment Impact of Elevated Walkways in Storage on Sprinkler Protection Review of Smoke Alarm Waking Effectiveness Electrical Data Summit: Impact of Data on the Electrical World Open Medical Gas Storage in a Healthcare Facility Smoke Compartment Firefighter Safety for Energy Storage System Fires (Adv Serv)   Featured Publications Jan/Feb NFPA Journal Feature Story on FPRF Stranded Energy Project Mar/Apr NFPA Journal Column on "Living with Wildfire" highlighted FPRF Workshop on Advancing WUI Resilience. SFPE Magazine features FPRF project on "Digitized Fuel Load Survey Methodology in Buildings using Machine Vision SFPE Europe Article features FPRF Project on "Tall Wood Buildings – Phase 2: Task 4" Article "How Should Parking Garage Fire Hazards be Classified?" in June 2020 Plumbing Engineering Magazine highlights FPRF project on "Modern Vehicle Hazards in Parking Garages & Vehicle Carriers" ASHE Healthcare Facilities Management Article,titled "Research project studies gaps and clearances around fire doors"(May 2020) July/Aug NFPA Journal Feature Story "Crowd Source" on FPRF project "Data-Informed Crowd Management"     Projects initiated in 2020 Q1 & Q2  Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems Public Safety sUAS Compliance Training Occupational Exposure of Firefighters: Literature Review Fire Safety Challenges of Green Buildings (Update) Economic and Emotional Impact of an ASHER Event Fire Safety in the United States Assessment, Improvement, and Application of Multi-Hazard System-Level Performance Evaluations of First Responder Ensembles   Q1 & Q2 Webinar Update Review of Audible Alarm Waking Effectiveness Webinar was held on February 5th, 2020.  Recording available here. Digitized Fuel Load Survey in Buildings using Machine Vision Webinar was held on April 2nd, 2020. Recording available here. Modern Vehicle Hazards in Parking Garages and Vehicle Carriers webinar was held on June 2, 2020, Recording available here. Upcoming Webinar Time-restricted eating for improving overall health and sleep among firefighters, on August 11, 2020, 12:30pm - 2pm ET. Register here.    FPRF News Awards: Research team from Johns Hopkins University and University of Buffalo were awarded the 2019 Foundation Medal for the Digitized Fuel Load Survey in Buildings using Machine Vision project. Event Cancelled: Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research Applications Conference (SUPDET 2020) and the 17thInternational Conference on Automatic Fire Detection (AUBE'20), originally scheduled for September 15-17, 2020 in Mulheim an der Ruhr, Germany, has been postponed until September 2021. Staff News:FPRF Executive Director,Amanda Kimball was re-appointed to a 2nd term on the SFPE Board of Directors. Amanda was also elevated to Fellow of SFPE. Out of 4,600 SFPE members, there are only 313 fellows.   Upcoming Events this Fall: Virtual Workshop on “Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) Data Exchange Model”.(Tentative Date: September 2020; Moreinformation forthcoming).  VirtualWorkshop on “Cybersecurity for Fire Protection Systems”(Tentative Date:Oct/Nov 2020; More information forthcoming) VirtualWorkshop on “Public Safety Small Unmanned AerialSystems(sUAS)Compliance Training” (Tentative Date: November 2020; More information forthcoming).    

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