Deadly North Carolina Construction Blaze Could Spark Update to State Fire Code to Include More from NFPA 241

Fire safety officials in North Carolina are considering incorporating requirements from the latest edition of NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations, into the state fire code after a massive, deadly blaze earlier this month. “We do hope that the latest updates [to NFPA 241] will be considered,” Chief State Fire Marshal Brian Taylor told The Charlotte Observer. Currently, NFPA 241 is briefly referenced in the 2018 North Carolina Fire Prevention Code, which is the latest version of the code, but experts say a fuller incorporation of the 2022 edition of NFPA 241 could help reduce the risk of more fires like the one that razed a multistory apartment complex under construction in Charlotte on May 18. The fire left two construction workers dead, while more than a dozen others had to be rescued. A city seldom sees the magnitude and tragedy last week's fire. Over 90 Charlotte firefighters spent hours controlling a 5-alarm fire at a construction site. The radio communication you’ll hear in this video only partially relays the dramatic intensity of Thursday, May 18, 2023. — Charlotte Fire Dept. (@charlottefire) May 22, 2023 Included in the changes from the 2019 edition of NFPA 241 to the 2022 edition were a new section to help authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) with enforcement of the standard, enhanced requirements for creating a fire prevention program (FPP) for construction sites, and a new chapter on large wood-frame construction, among others. The structure that burned in Charlotte was reported to be of large wood-frame construction. “I’m really proud of the latest edition of the standard,” Bruce Campbell, a fire protection engineer and vice president at Jensen Hughes, who serves as the chair of the NFPA 241 technical committee, told NFPA Journal for a 2021 article that explored the changes to the latest edition of NFPA 241. Although the next edition of the North Carolina fire code isn’t set to take effect until January 2025, North Carolina Chief Fire Code Consultant Charlie Johnson told The Observer that changes could be introduced sooner. The NC Fire Code Revision Committee is scheduled to meet next week, the newspaper reported. Rising numbers & enhanced solutions North Carolina is far from the only place in the United States—and around the globe—where firefighters, building officials, construction workers, and other professionals face fire safety challenges at construction sites. According to the most recent data from NFPA®, the number of fires in buildings under construction in the U.S. has been steadily rising since 2014. On average, U.S. fire departments respond to 4,300 fires in buildings under construction per year—that’s nearly a dozen such blazes every day. These fires also inflict an annual average of $375 million in direct property damages, according to the data. RELATED: Read the latest research report from NFPA on fires in buildings under construction; watch a recent NFPA webinar about protecting buildings under construction from fire Some policymakers and fire service professionals have speculated that the rising numbers of construction fires over the past several years could be due to a boom in wood-frame construction for large, multifamily dwellings. “We’re on heightened awareness of these, and especially when they’re in the most populated areas,” Taylor told The Observer about this type of construction. “You’ll see them in downtown Raleigh, downtown Charlotte.” But there have been many examples of non-wood-frame buildings under construction burning, too, and experts say building materials alone don’t change the risk of a fire starting.  “Construction is a vulnerable point in any building’s life cycle,” Jon Hart, a technical lead at NFPA, said in a recent NFPA Journal article. “There can be a lot going on, such as welding and other hot work activities or the use of cooking equipment by workers. In addition to that, you can have piles of combustible debris and fire protection systems that aren’t fully operable yet. All of this creates an environment where fires can start, so it’s critical for building owners, construction companies, and authorities having jurisdiction to ensure proper safety plans and procedures are in place for any project.”  EXPLORE ONLINE TRAINING COURSES FROM NFPA RELATED TO FIRES IN BUILDINGS UNDER CONSTRUCTION • Fire Prevention Program Manager Online Training Series • Construction Site Fire Safety Fundamentals Online Training • NFPA 241 Online Training Series • NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, Online Training Series • Hot Work Safety Training Certificate Online Training (also available in Spanish) To establish fire, life, and electrical safety in buildings and other spaces—no matter what stage of development they may be in—it’s critical for jurisdictions to use the most up-to-date codes and standards. In fact, that concept is one of eight components outlined in the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™, which is why NFPA Vice President of Outreach & Advocacy Lorraine Carli applauded the efforts taking shape in North Carolina to incorporate the 2022 edition of NFPA 241 into the state fire code. “The recent fire in Charlotte was an absolute tragedy, but we hope it can lead to changes that could help to prevent future tragedies like this from occurring in North Carolina and in other places,” Carli said. “Safety exists as a system, where everything from the use of modern codes to employing skilled workers matters. So it’s not just about saying, ‘Let’s use NFPA 241.’ It’s about training on it, implementing it, and ensuring there is proper enforcement.” Visit to explore a variety of NFPA resources aimed at helping to prevent construction fires.  Top photograph: Getty Images

An Electrical Inspector’s Role in Reducing Electric Shock Drowning

A version of this blog was originally published in 2022. It has been updated to reflect the most recent information. You would think that as someone who lives and previously conducted electrical inspections in Michigan, a state with 3,288 miles of freshwater shoreline and countless marinas, I would have known about electric shock drowning (ESD) before joining NFPA®. Well, you would be wrong; I had no idea what ESD was until I started working at NFPA. At a recent electrical inspectors’ conference, I began to wonder if I was the only inspector who had been in the dark about ESD. I asked if anyone knew what ESD was, and very few did. This was surprising to me, but also provided me with an opportunity to educate them. So, how can an electrical inspector have an impact? We must first answer the question, “What is ESD?” RELATED: Learn more about the NFPA Electrical Inspection Membership According to the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association, ESD occurs when a typically low-level alternating current (AC) passes through the body with sufficient force to cause skeletal muscular paralysis, rendering a swimmer in freshwater unable to keep him or herself afloat, eventually resulting in the drowning of the victim. Higher levels of AC in the water could also result in death via electrocution. It has been said that ESD is the catch-all phrase that encompasses all in-water shock casualties and fatalities. ESD occurs more in freshwater environments than in saltwater, which is why ESD is of particular concern around freshwater docking facilities, marinas, lakes, and ponds. Creating a specific code section in NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®), for ESD may sound simple, but it is not. ESD is not a piece of electrical equipment or an electrical conductor but rather a phenomenon that can occur in areas where boats are connected to shore power electricity. Increased knowledge on the risk of ESD has impacted the construction of boats, marinas, and docking facilities, which may help reduce occurrences of ESD. And even though ESD isn’t specifically addressed in the NEC, it has had a significant impact on recent changes that have been made in it. New solutions for helping eliminate ESD have become a regular subject in the code-making process, public inputs, and comments for potential new NEC requirements. Changes to the 2023 NEC that electrical inspectors should be aware of and that could lead to a reduction in electric shock drowning deaths include the following: Requiring emergency shutoff devices or emergency disconnects located within sight of the marina power outlets or other enclosures providing power to boats. They are to be marked “Emergency Shutoff,” readily accessible, and externally operable, which allows bystanders to quickly de-energize power to the boat and safely release a person who may be suffering an electric shock. Adding equipotential planes and bonding of equipotential planes that could help mitigate step and touch voltages for electrical equipment that supply power to the equipment. Requiring that modified, repaired, or replaced electrical enclosures, devices, or wiring methods comply with the current provisions of the NEC. The installation also requires the circuit be inspected due to exposure to harsh environments. Requiring all luminaires and retrofit kits to be listed and identified for use in their intended environment. Also requiring that luminaires installed below the highest tide level or electrical datum plane and likely to be periodically submersed comply with 555.38(B). As conversations around ESD continue throughout the code development process, it is important to remember which edition of the NEC is being enforced in your area, and how you as an electrical inspector can use those sections to make an impact in reducing ESD. Through enforcement of electrical codes, the inspector can help educate owners and installers about ESD risks. Here are just a few topics inspectors might want to look up in the NEC: Signage – You might be wondering, “How can signs help prevent ESD?” They can do it by continuing to warn everybody of the true dangers facing them. These areas are challenged with constantly changing environments because numerous boats in various degrees of electrical repair travel in and out of these facilities all the time. This can make a place you may otherwise consider swimming in potentially unsafe due to the presence of low-level AC (leakage current). Installing permanent safety signs around marinas, boatyards, and docking facilities gives notice of the ESD risk to persons within those areas. Signs should say more than “No Swimming” since some people may not take that warning seriously and swim anyway. Code language was added to have signs state: “No Swimming / Warning / Potential Shock Hazard / Electrical Currents May Be Present in the Water.” To aid in further preventing ESD, docking facilities were added to the list of marinas and boatyards found in 555.10 of the 2020 NEC. Ground-fault protection – Article 555, Marinas, Boatyards, Floating Buildings, and Commercial and Noncommercial Docking Facilities, addresses both ground-fault protection of equipment (GFPE) and ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. With cumulative effects of leakage current causing excess tripping of 30 milliampere GFPE devices, changes were made to the code language for the 2023 edition of the NEC that increased GFPE current settings not to exceed 100 milliamperes on feeders and 30 milliamperes on branch circuits, which will require inspectors to verify devices are properly located in the electrical system. This change helps facilitate more dependable power for marinas and docking facilities. Branch circuits feeding single shore power receptacles must still have individual GFPE devices set to open at currents not exceeding 30 milliamperes. Coincidentally, this requirement matches main breaker settings in boats manufactured after July 31, 2017. Outlets for non–shore power had the GFCI protection for personnel expanded in the 2023 NEC to cover 150 volts to ground and 60 amperes, single phase, and 150 volts or less to ground and 100 amperes or less, three phase. Leakage current measurement device – The 2020 NEC language allowed electrical inspectors to require marinas, boatyards, and docking facilities that have more than three receptacles supplying shore power to boats to have a leakage current measurement device available on site. This device would allow facility operators to isolate and notify boat owners of leakage current so repairs could be made by a qualified person, thus helping to eliminate a potential ESD risk. The new language in the 2023 NEC requires the device to be listed for use in marina applications. This requirement doesn’t become effective until January 1, 2026. Private docks – Locations where ESD hazards may easily get overlooked or not inspected are on lakes surrounded by homes with private docks. These homes don’t always have shore power but may have electrically powered boat hoists. Section 555.35(C) requires boat hoist outlets not exceeding 240 volts installed at dwelling unit docking facilities to have GFCI protection for personnel. We have seen notable code changes within Article 555 over the last several cycles. Prior to the 2017 NEC, warning signs around marinas, boatyards, or docking facilities were not an NEC requirement, but they are now. GFCI and GFPE have had changes made within Article 555 over the 2017, 2020, and 2023 NEC cycles. There’s been a lot of positive influence on the codes because of the risks surrounding ESD, including regulating electrical requirements in marinas, boatyards, and docking facilities, rendering them much safer now. But you still can’t swim there! As inspectors, we can help raise awareness of ESD in our communities. It starts with educating ourselves. Visit this webpage to learn more about this topic and ways to help mitigate the risk of ESD.

Fire Protection Research Foundation to Host a Free Webinar on Immersive Learning for the Fire Service

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of NFPA®, will host its next webinar, “Fire Service Overview of Firefighter Immersive Learning Environment,” on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.   Training is a critical part of the fire service. New technological training and education applications are rapidly emerging for the fire service using immersive learning, and they offer certain unique advantages—most notably by improving health and safety. Fire service training academies and others have been using immersive learning technologies for driver training, hazardous materials training, and situational awareness. But they are being challenged by recent advances in emerging technologies (e.g., virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics), which has created a need for new training approaches and better understanding of these technologies. These innovative approaches have been proven to be effective in the training of other professionals (e.g., health care, military, construction, and aviation), and the fire service needs to develop a baseline of knowledge to manage the evolution of these new approaches. RELATED: Read a 2022 NFPA Journal feature story on the use of immersive learning for firefighter training   The Fire Protection Research Foundation, in partnership with North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD), have been jointly addressing this topic to develop a roadmap for the fire service through a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant activity. The project involved a review of existing technologies, focus group discussion with stakeholders, and a summit with fire service and technology leaders to learn about the current landscape of technology use and fire service needs and to address how immersive learning technologies could fit into the fire service training curriculum. Visit the project website,, to access the reports from this activity.   On May 31, the webinar panel will discuss the application of immersive learning in firefighter training. Panelists include Ken Willette, North American Fire Training Directors; Casey Grant, DSRAE; James P. Moore, Illinois Fire Service Institute; and Paul J. Norwood, Connecticut Fire Academy.   Webinar registration is free and required to be able to attend live; register for this webinar by clicking the direct link here or by visiting   This webinar is supported by the FPRF 2023 Webinar Series Sponsors: •          AXA XL Risk Consulting •          Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc. •          Telgian Engineering and Consulting •          The Zurich Services Corporation •          Worcester Polytechnic Institute Fire Protection Engineering Program  

NFPA LiNK Provides Early Access to 2024 Editions of 20+ Codes and Standards, Including NFPA 70E

For the past two years, NFPA LiNK® has provided professionals with an interactive digital alternative to hardcopy codebooks, offering access to NFPA® codes and standards on the user’s favorite device. On May 15, NFPA LiNK will be adding 25 additional codes and standards within the organization’s vast scope of publications, including the latest edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. For those unfamiliar with NFPA 70E, this standard establishes requirements for safe work practices to protect personnel by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards. NFPA 70E helps companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast, and assists in complying with OSHA regulations. Along with the National Electrical Code® and NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, NFPA 70E aids professionals across the globe in maintaining electrical safety. In addition to the 2024 edition of NFPA 70E, new editions of 24 other NFPA documents will publish in NFPA LiNK on the 15th, including: ·       NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code ·       NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations ·       NFPA 90A, Standard for the Installation of Air-Conditioning and Ventilating Systems ·       NFPA 556, Guide on Methods for Evaluating Fire Hazard to Occupants of Passenger Road Vehicles ·       NFPA 820, Standard for Fire Protection in Wastewater Treatment and Collection Facilities With staffing shortages plaguing the industry and valuable time at all-time low, all workers in the electrical, fire, and life safety space need to be able to readily access the most up-to-date codes and standards. No longer can individuals rely on a single team member to carry a codebook holding valuable notes in its margins and earmarks on commonly cited pages. It’s more important than ever for stakeholders to collaborate, share resources, and plan accordingly while in the design and build process. Innovative resources like NFPA LiNK are at the heart of enabling this productive way of work, offering: ·       Notetaking features for individuals to add personal notes and collaborate with others, share code sections, and work across teams ·       Interactive Change Indicators that make it easier to identify and understand changes and deletions made from edition to edition ·       Bookmarks to save custom collections for quick and easy reference ·       Navigation tools that enable users to bookmark text and quickly locate information ·       NFPA DiRECT®, a situational navigation tool to help professionals identify codes related to the unique projects they encounter Interested in learning more? NFPA recently debuted a supplementary NFPA LiNK YouTube channel, complementing the platform by providing users with tutorials and quick-start video guides for optimizing NFPA LiNK, as well as content discussing industry-specific codes, classifications, and requirements for electrical, fire, and life safety. For more information about NFPA LiNK, or to sign up for a free trial, visit

A Better Understanding of NFPA 70E: Part I – Comparing Four Decades of Electrical Injuries and Fatalities

To assist all employers in reducing, if not eliminating, workplace electrical injuries and fatalities, I decided to investigate how far electrical safety has progressed over the last 40 years. Information from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) database has been used for 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2020. This will be a multipart blog series investigating different aspects of electrical injuries and fatalities. There were 7,405 fatal injuries in the workplace in 1980, and 4,764 in 2020 (a Covid year with significantly fewer fatalities than the previous years). For comparison, excluding 2020, there has been an average of 5,222 fatalities since 2015. It is encouraging that progress has been made in all causes of workplace fatalities, but how is protecting employees from electrical hazards working out? Electrocution was the fifth-leading cause of death in the workplace by the end of the 1970s; there were approximately 600 electrocutions annually at the time, accounting for about 8% of all workplace fatalities. The first edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, was issued in 1979 to address those fatalities. What has happened since? Drum roll please … Exposure to electricity is no longer a stand-alone leading cause of workplace fatalities. It is included in a group of exposures to harmful substances or environments that together are currently the sixth-leading cause of fatalities—a vast improvement since NFPA 70E began addressing electrical safety. RELATED: The 2024 edition of NFPA 70E is due out soon. Learn more. It is amazing that in the 1970s exposure to electricity alone caused nearly as many deaths (about 600) as this entire exposure group now does (672 in 2020). Unfortunately, of the named harmful substances or environments, exposure to electricity is the leading cause of fatalities by a factor of 2 and accounts for one-fifth of all these 2020 exposure fatalities. In addition, exposure to electricity is once again on OSHA’s “Fatal Four” for the construction industry. The chart below shows the decrease in exposure to electricity fatalities and injuries (no 1980 online data for injuries) at the end of each decade. Great strides have been made, but there are still some areas where electrical safety can improve. Exposure to electricity fatalities were nearly halved from 582 to 310 in the decade after NFPA 70E was first issued. It took two more decades to halve the fatalities from 310 to 164. Although there were 126 fatalities in 2020, exposure to electricity fatalities has stagnated at around 150 over the last decade. As a percentage of all workplace fatalities, exposure to electricity fatalities has decreased from 8% in 1980 to 3% in 2020. Electrical injuries requiring time away from work have nearly been cut in half (4,806 to 2,380) since 1990. These are good signs that employers have embraced protecting all employees in all workplaces from electrical hazards. The bad news is that, in 2020, 2,380 employees just missed becoming a fatality by dumb luck. Vast improvements in electrical safety have been made in all occupations, but any fatality or injury is cause for further refinement. No employer should be satisfied with an employee electrical injury. Workplace fatalities due to exposure to electricity are preventable. It may seem difficult to further reduce the number of fatalities, but it is easier than it seems. There are four things that an employer can do. First, properly install and maintain equipment so that not only your employees but also groundskeepers, contract workers, painters, and plumbers are protected from electrical hazards whenever they are near or interacting with your electrical equipment. Second, train your employees to recognize and avoid electrical hazards wherever their work environment may be. Third, create or improve your electrical safety program and follow it. The last thing only takes a second because it is simply a matter of flipping a switch to save someone’s life before they might be exposed to an electrical hazard. The use of the most up-to-date edition of NFPA 70E is a key component to establishing electrical safety in the workplace. The 2024 edition of the standard is due out next month. The digital version of the new edition will also be added to NFPA LiNK® next week; visit to learn more.

Charging Up National Electrical Safety Month Around E-Mobility

Each May provides an opportunity to highlight how we can safely work with electricity. National Electrical Safety Month is an annual campaign spearheaded by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which aims to educate people on how to reduce the number of electrical fires, fatalities, injuries, and associated property loss. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Electrification: E-Mobility.” While there is no shortage of stories about electric vehicle (EV) and e-bike incidents in the news, the reality is that it is also a topic many Americans do not know a lot about. And with a lack of knowledge often comes a lack of safety. Many of the reported incidents likely could have been prevented had individuals been more aware of unsafe practices when using these products. This year’s National Electrical Safety Month campaign addressing e-mobility safety provides a great opportunity to spread more safety awareness in this area, and NFPA® has many resources to help accomplish this goal.   E-bikes: The news story vs the full picture   Electromobility, also known as e-mobility, uses specific technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, to provide electric propulsion of electric vehicles, e-bikes, and various other means of mobile transportation. Incidents involving e-bikes are regularly in the news and a high concentration of those happen to be in New York City, an area with a dense population and significant use of e-bikes for delivery jobs and general travel around the city. What often gets relayed as part of the newscast is a description of the incident itself and a connection to the lithium-ion batteries that propel these e-bikes. What isn’t always communicated is the human factor that can lead to many of these incidents and, more importantly, ways in which individuals can begin to safely charge and utilize e-bikes to prevent further incidents.   As of early April, New York City had reported 59 total e-bike–related fires this year, 5 of which had been fatal. To add perspective, there were 6 total fatalities due to e-bike–related fires in all of 2022. One recent incident involved two youths that perished because an e-bike was being charged near the building entrance, and when a fire involving the device erupted, the exit was blocked.   Since the onset of these tragic e-bike events, NFPA has been proactive in trying to educate e-bike users to ensure that they know the best ways to utilize these products in a manner that maintains their personal safety, as well as the safety of others. In fact, NFPA put together a webpage with safety information around e-bikes and e-scooters to help spread awareness. Watch a related video about e-bike and e-scooter fire safety from NFPA Journal®.   Here, individuals can find great resources such as answers to frequently asked questions, videos, and a downloadable e-bike safety tip sheet that is available in both English and Spanish. NFPA staff are also working to be safety advocates by spreading messaging around the lithium-ion batteries that power most e-bikes. At a recent NFPA staff event, a panel of several staff members who specialize in fire protection, electrical safety, and research discussed recent incidents and the safe use of lithium-ion batteries. Many in the audience expressed that they learned something valuable about how to be safer when charging their personal lithium-ion powered devices. NFPA technical services engineer Brian O’Connor also provided a recent interview to CBS News New York to help spread the word to the public on how e-bike lithium-ion batteries work and the safety precautions that users should take.     EVs: Building a safe charging infrastructure   Electric vehicles (EVs) are another means of e-mobility transportation that are very much in the public spotlight. There is a clear shift taking place among major automotive manufacturers worldwide from production of vehicles with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. There are also significant financial investments being made by the government to build an electrical charging infrastructure that can support the increase in the number of EVs that are projected to reach the pavement in the near future.   A primary step in bettering the EV charging infrastructure happens when it is initially built. But another key component that shouldn’t be overlooked is the continued maintenance of the charging infrastructure.  Both the initial installation and continued maintenance are areas where NFPA is able to help ensure safety. Article 625 in the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) provides requirements that will help to ensure a safe electrical vehicle charging installation. Some of the requirements revolve around a personal protection system, properly sizing branch circuits that power the EV charger, and utilizing ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection for receptacles that power EV chargers.     RELATED: NFPA also has resources to help firefighters train for responding to incidents involving electric vehicles. Learn more at   From a maintenance standpoint, Chapter 33 of NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, addresses electric vehicle charging systems. Within this chapter, users can find information on the necessary frequency and documentation of maintenance and the procedures that should be taken when maintenance is performed. With NFPA 70B changing from a recommended practice to a standard in January of 2023, governments and municipalities now have the ability to enforce the maintenance requirements of NFPA 70B regarding the electrical charging infrastructure being installed within their particular areas. With the high level of use that EV chargers will see on a daily basis, continued maintenance will be paramount to ensuring that EV chargers remain safe for consumers to use.   Embracing the electric future   Since the beginning of human history, there has been a constant development of new technologies that drive our means of travel—for example, shoes (7th millennium BC), the domestication of the horse and invention of the wheel (3500 BC), the bicycle (1816), and the Ford Model T automobile (1908). These were all significant developments in means of travel that we still use today.   Although electric vehicles are at the forefront of developing travel technologies today, using electricity for powering means of transportation actually dates back to the early 19th century, when using electricity to power locomotives and boats was being explored. Continued technological advancements over time, such as the development of lithium-ion batteries, has provided an opportunity to explore new transportation options within the e-mobility realm. While the advancements in the technologies used for transportation have a wide variance over time, one commonality is that, in all applications of those technologies, there was a learning curve that had to be overcome to utilize the new technology safely.   “ We are still learning how to use e-mobility products like e-bikes and EVs safely. ... It is important that we all continue to gain knowledge around how to safely use them and then continue to share that knowledge with others.     It is hard to imagine that it took very long after the wheel was invented to determine it was a bad idea to leave your foot under it while it was rolling. This may sound like a silly example because it seems just common sense to us nowadays, but someone had to learn the danger from trial and error and then share their findings with others so that they didn’t make the same mistake. In that same regard, we are still learning how to use e-mobility products like e-bikes and EVs safely.   The reality is we often fear most that which we do not understand. As we work through determining how best to incorporate these e-mobility products into our everyday lives, it is important that we all continue to gain knowledge around how to safely use them and then continue to share that knowledge with others. National Electrical Safety Month is a great opportunity for all of us to start doing just that.          For quick tips on how to use e-mobility devices more safely, please consider downloading the NFPA E-bike and E-scooter Safety tip sheet in English or Spanish, as well as our Lithium-Ion Battery Safety sheet.  

NFPA releases Standards Council decision on NFPA 1582 addressing possible legal, funding, and safety risks to fire departments

Today, NFPA released the NFPA Standards Council appeal decision on Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) 1689, upholding the appeal and overturning the Technical Committee on Emergency Responders Occupational Health (TC) ballot results - issuing TIA 1689 on the 2022 edition of NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Medical Program for Fire Departments. TIA’s are amendments to an NFPA standard outside of the ordinary revision cycle of a standard to address something needing immediate action. TIAs are tentative because the changes have not been processed through the entire standards-making procedures and is interim because it is effective only between editions of the standard. TIAs are automatically considered for the next edition of the standard; as such, it is subject to all of the procedures of the standards-making process. Regular readers of this blog will recall that whenever I write about the NFPA standards development process, I make clear that the NFPA Standards Council accords great respect and deference to the work of the technical committees through the NFPA standards development process. The NFPA Standards Council, an appeals body, will only overturn the results of the technical process where there is a clear and substantial basis for doing so. Their decision on TIA No. 1689, which revises NFPA 1582, presents such basis, to address potentially significant legal and federal funding risks to fire departments throughout the country and states: “This is an untenable position for fire departments, candidates and members; and to the extent NFPA 1582 is potentially used as an instrument of discrimination, the Council is compelled to take action and issue the TIA that rectifies this immediate concern.”  Background on NFPA 1582 NFPA 1582 is a standard that provides information and guidance for physicians and other health care providers responsible for fire department occupational medical programs. The medical requirements and evaluation are intended to ensure that candidates and current members are medically capable of performing their required duties and will reduce the risk of occupational injuries and illnesses. The 2022 edition of NFPA 1582 has different medical requirements for candidates (those who want to join a fire department or members looking to join a new department) and members (current active fire fighters). Significantly, there are a number of different health conditions (Category A Medical Conditions) which are applicable only to candidates and are deemed to preclude a person from getting a job as a firefighter.  The technical committee has received Public Input and Public Comments about this issue for more than 10 years that articulated concerns that such disparate treatment of candidates and members violates disability anti-discrimination laws, unfairly impacts a person applying to become a member of a fire department, and puts Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) at risk of using a discriminatory standard.  TIA 1689 was submitted in November of 2022, creating essentially a single set of medical requirements that are equally applicable to both members and candidates and track closely to the current requirements for incumbents. After balloting of the technical committee, TIA 1689 failed to receive the required votes to pass the ballot. Appeals were filed with Standards Council by Leslie Saucedo Baskir, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Office of Equal Rights, Pamela Williams, Grant Programs/FEMA, and Stan Haimes, M.D. University of Central Florida College of Medicine. NFPA Standards Council Decision The NFPA Standards Council decided to uphold the appeals requesting that the Council issue TIA No. 1689, which seeks to revise various paragraphs and combine several chapters of the standard to address significant concerns that it violates the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). The Council reviewed the entire record concerning this matter and considered all the arguments put forth in this appeal. In the view of the Council, this appeal presents a clear and substantial basis upon which to overturn the results yielded by the NFPA standards development process. The decision included these key points: The record is replete with documentation and comments reflecting concern that NFPA 1582 violates civil rights laws, exposes AHJs to risk by using a potentially discriminatory standard, and unfairly affects people applying for a firefighter job or looking to apply for a firefighter job in a new department. At the hearing, FEMA’s Director of the Office of Equal Rights stated that if NFPA 1582 is not amended to comply with civil rights law, it would “take action to address the offending standard outside of the NFPA standards process” and take action that may include “prohibiting physicals that adhere to NFPA 1582”, consider “compliance reviews of organizations that have received funds regarding their use of physical for hiring or recruitment of grant funded positions”, and noted that “[d]isallowing reimbursement of NFPA 1582 physicals for fire departments with existing grant awards…will add additional financial burden to many already finically-strapped departments…” The Council believes this is an untenable position for fire departments, candidates, and members; and to the extent NFPA 1582 is potentially used as an instrument of discrimination, the Council is compelled to act and issue the TIA that rectifies this immediate concern. At the hearing, the Council heard from opponents to this appeal that the Technical Committee continues to work on a new TIA that is largely the same as TIA 1689, but with different aerobic capacity requirements.  In the meantime, the Council encourages the Committee to continue its work. The full decision can be found here.
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