Topic: NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates

FF gear in washing machine

Should NFPA develop an all-new standard on PPE contaminant control or roll the requirements into NFPA 1581?

The NFPA Standards Council has received a New Project Initiation Request from the fire service asking NFPA consider developing an ANSI Accredited Standard to establish the minimum requirements for the effective contamination control of fire department personal, their personal protective equipment (PPE), accessories, and equipment.    Firefighter health risks associated with PPE contaminant exposure reflects one of the most pressing concerns within the fire service. A number of organizations, including the Fire Protection Research Foundation, continue working to identify methods for adequately cleaning firefighter gear and mitigating those risks. As a result of multiple efforts, including “Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control” – a one-year project conducted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation that's nearing its completion – we now have some answers. The next step is identifying how to best deliver those requirements, guidelines and recommendations in our codes and standards. Two options are currently on the table: NFPA can develop an all-new contamination control standard, which identifies best practices for cleaning PPE, as well as how gear should be handled after possible exposure to contaminants.  Alternatively, the information could be rolled into our existing standard, NFPA 1581, Standard on Fire Department Infection Control Program. To make the decision that best reflects the fire service's needs and preferences, we need to hear from you! Tell us if you think this issue warrants its own standard or should be addressed in NFPA 1581. Feel free to share your thoughts in this blog, but remember it is important that you provide your feedback through our technical process so that your voice is heard and officially weighed into the Standards Council's final decision.
Incidental book store cafe

#101Wednesdays: When is an "incidental use" incidental?

A topic that sometimes prompts a bit of animated discussion when I teach NFPA's three-day Life Safety Code Essentials seminar is incidental uses. It is not always clear when a portion of a building should be treated as an incidental use or as its own occupancy. In today's #101Wednesdays post, I will attempt to provide some guidance. Before getting into the NFPA 101 requirements, it's important to recognize we live in a world in which the Life Safety Code co-exists with building codes. In most cases, the building code is the International Building Code (IBC), which is promulgated by the International Code Council. Both the IBC and NFPA 101 use the term incidental; however, the term has different meanings in each code. In NFPA 101, incidental refers to “minor” uses that are accessory to and/or support the predominant occupancy and do not warrant their own occupancy classification. This concept in the IBC is known as accessory occupancies. In the IBC, the term incidental uses refers to what NFPA 101 calls hazardous areas. The concepts are very similar, but the terminology is different. Be sure to understand how each term is used in each code so you're not comparing apples to oranges. Classification of occupancy is addressed by Chapter 6 of NFPA 101, and it is based on how a building is used. The Code's requirements are predicated on occupancy classification, which directly relates to occupant characteristics and their associated risks. It is common for buildings to be comprised of more than occupancy; these are known as multiple-occupancy buildings (see 6.1.14 of NFPA 101, 2015 edition). Multiple occupancies are then treated as either mixed multiple occupancies ( or separated multiple occupancies ( In each case, the requirements applicable to all involved occupancies must be evaluated. However, permits some, but not all uses to be considered incidental. For example, where an office building (business use) has an office supply closet (storage use), the AHJ is permitted to judge the storage use to be incidental to the predominant business use and classify the building as a business occupancy, not a multiple occupancy (business and storage). The requirements of Chapter 38 (new business) or 39 (existing business) apply, as applicable, and the AHJ ignores the storage occupancy requirements of Chapter 42. If that same office building has a cafeteria with an occupant load of 50 or more, however, that is an assembly occupancy, and the building must be treated as a multiple-occupancy building (business and assembly). Here is how it works: Certain uses that are permitted to be considered incidental subject to the determination of the AHJ are specified by mercantile, business, industrial, and storage uses. Examples of each might include: Incidental mercantile: newsstand in an office building lobby (business occupancy) Incidental business: supervisor's office in a distribution warehouse (storage occupancy) Incidental industrial: repair shop in a bicycle store (mercantile occupancy) Incidental storage: raw materials storage in a manufacturing plant (industrial occupancy) For these uses, no measurable threshold in terms of area or occupant load applies. Whether one of these uses is incidental or its own occupancy is strictly up to the AHJ. This requires sound, reasonable judgment. Other nonresidential uses having an occupant load fewer than that established by each occupancy classification's definition are also considered incidental. Determining whether these areas are incidental requires no judgment. The occupant load based on how the area is used is determined, and if the occupant load is less than that established by the occupancy's definition, it's incidental. Examples of these might include: Incidental assembly: café with an occupant load of fewer than 50 in a book store (mercantile occupancy) Incidental educational: tutoring for fewer than four students through the twelfth grade in an office building (business occupancy) Incidental day care: child care service for fewer than four kids at a health club (assembly occupancy) Incidental health care: limited skilled nursing care for fewer than four patients in an assisted living facility (residential board and care occupancy) Incidental ambulatory health care: oral surgery and recovery provided to fewer than four patients in a dentist's office (business occupancy) Note that residential uses (one- and two-family dwellings, lodging or rooming houses, hotels and dormitories, apartment buildings, and residential board and care) can never be considered incidental. This is to ensure that the requisite protection for sleeping occupants, namely smoke alarms, is always provided. An on-call physicians' sleeping room in a hospital is NOT incidental; rather, it's usually a lodging or rooming house occupancy, and the requirements of Chapter 26 apply in addition to the requirements of Chapter 18 or 19 for health care occupancies. Also be aware that even though an area is incidental, it might still need to be protected as a hazardous area by automatic sprinklers, 1-hour separation, or both (e.g., a soiled linen storage room in a hospital). It's interesting to note that the IBC takes a different approach to accessory occupancies. The IBC states that occupancies can be considered accessory if they are ancillary to the main occupancy of the building and do not exceed 10 percent of the floor area of the story in which they are located and do not exceed the allowable area for nonsprinklered buildings for each accessory occupancy. For example, in a 500,000 ft2 building used predominantly as a warehouse, up to 10 percent of the area (50,000 ft2) could be used for offices (assuming Type I construction), and the office area could be considered an accessory occupancy subject only to the requirements applicable to the storage use. To me and to the Safety to Life Technical Committees, 50,000 ft2 of offices is a lot of business use area to treat as accessory (IBC) or incidental (NFPA 101). This is not to disparage the IBC; it's only to point out the different protection philosophies provided by each code. I hope this overview of incidental uses in the Life Safety Code has been useful. Thanks for reading, and until next time, stay safe! Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I'd love to hear your suggestions! Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.” Image above courtesy of

Discussion surrounds those permitted to install home fire sprinklers

In case you missed it, Alabama's governor recently signed into law a bill allowing plumbers to install home fire sprinklers. Granting this group access in Alabama and elsewhere has initiated discussions on who should be permitted to perform these installations.  Addressing this issue in the latest edition of NFPA Journal is Matt Klaus, NFPA technical services lead for fire protection engineering. Klaus notes that NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, leaves it to the authorities having jurisdiction to decide licensing requirements and who is permitted to install fire sprinklers.  Here is an excerpt of Klaus' column:  Ultimately, there are two different schools of thought on this issue. The first is that, because many states only permit licensed sprinkler contractors to install systems designed to NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, or NFPA 13R, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies, this concept should be applied to NFPA 13D as well. The other side of the argument is that plumbers, who are already on-site installing domestic systems, should also be permitted to install NFPA 13D systems. The idea of allowing plumbers to install NFPA 13D systems is based on a few principles that have been discussed by the technical committee for residential sprinkler systems. The first is the simplicity of the NFPA 13D system when compared to larger commercial systems. Sprinkler systems designed and installed to NFPA 13 can be fairly complex and employ system components or installation practices that are unique to fire sprinkler systems. NFPA 13D systems, by comparison, are rather simple. NFPA 13D contains few requirements for system attachments beyond a control valve, piping, a drain connection, and the sprinkler itself. Another reason why plumbers are often deemed qualified to install these systems is their familiarity with the material used in home sprinkler systems. Unlike NFPA 13 and NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D permits the use of copper and polyethylene PEX tubing to be used throughout the system. These materials, along with CPVC, which is used in all three types of sprinkler systems, are used on a daily basis by many plumbers for supplying domestic fixtures. The plumbers' general familiarity with these materials and their joining methods can create efficiencies in the installation. Those efficiencies lead to the final argument for allowing plumbers to install the systems: cost. Visit the NFPA Journal site and read Klaus' full column. Also, let us know your thoughts on this discussion by replying directly to this post. 
Keith Flood

During state building code update, Connecticut safety advocates urge code committee to adopt home fire sprinkler requirement

Keith Flood, chair of the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, discusses home fire sprinklers and a crucial state building code update with a local reporter. The perpetual myth from fire sprinkler opponents that "nobody is dying from fire in new homes" was proven wrong in the worst way last year. A six-year-old girl from Plainfield, Connecticut, died from a fire in a new home her family moved into only months before the incident. Local fire officials have confirmed that the home had at least one working smoke alarm.  Looking to finally end these tragedies, members of the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition are urging a state building code committee to finally adopt the model building code requirement to sprinkler new homes. The Codes Amendment Subcommittee of the Connecticut Codes & Standards Committee met this week to discuss the adoption, focusing heavily on a 55-page report developed by the coalition. The report addresses 13 topics pertaining to home fire sprinklers--among them, installation cost and water protection concerns--that the subcommittee wanted addressed. "We want to make sure people get out of their homes safely, live in their homes safely, able to live safely,” Coalition Chair Keith Flood told a reporter attending the subcommittee meeting. The news story also highlighted Connecticut residents Michelle Allyn and her two teenage daughters, who lost their home from fire and rebuilt with fire sprinklers. The family was featured in NFPA's Faces of Fire campaign last year.  In a prepared statement to the media, the coalition applauded the subcommittee for considering the sprinkler requirement: "Updating Connecticut's codes to comply with national model safety codes, and requiring sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes, will protect families throughout the state and cost less than other fire safety measures."  The subcommittee will vote on August 9 whether or not to recommend the inclusion of a fire sprinkler requirement to the state's larger Codes & Standards Committee. Please check this blog often for updates to this story. Please watch NFPA's video featuring the night Michelle Allyn and her daughters lost their home to fire and how it altered their lives: 

New NFPA 3000 supports preparedness and coordinated response during active shooter incidents

Today marks the one year anniversary of the attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.  At the NFPA, we honor the 49 innocent individuals that were taken that day by marking this week as the beginning of the development of NFPA 3000: Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events.    The Pulse incident, along with several others throughout the past year, highlight a need for first responders, emergency managers, facilities, hospitals, and communities as a whole to be on the same page when these incidents occur.  The resilience displayed in places like Orlando, Boston, London, Connecticut, and many others show that we as a community can and must work together to ensure that we never allow terror or evil to win.  NFPA 3000 will give communities a resource to be prepared in the event that the unthinkable happens.   The process of developing NFPA 3000 began with a request by Fire Chief Otto Drozd III from Orange County Florida in October of 2016.  Since then, we have sought public comment and committee applications to form a Technical Committee to develop the Standard.  In just four short months we received over 100 positive comments and committee applications.  In April of 2017, the NFPA Standards Council unanimously approved the new Standard and Technical Committee.   The Technical Committee is chaired by Richard Serino, recently retired COO of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, former Chief of Boston EMS, and current faculty member at Harvard University.  The Committee has representatives from the DHS, DOJ, FBI, International Association of Police Chiefs, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of EMTs, IAFF, EMS Labor Alliance, Hospitals, Facility Managers, Private Security, Universities, and more.  This broad group collectively brings over 200 years of experience to the table, many of which include experience responding to active shooter/hostile incidents. On June 9, 2017 Chief Drozd authored an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel highlighting his reasons for requesting that the Standard be developed.  One important issue that he points out is that there are numerous guidance documents from individual organizations, but currently no consensus standard.  He also speaks to the inspiration he felt in the aftermath of the Pulse attack and his motivation for wanting a tool for others to use so that more lives can be saved in the future.  We honor those that were lost at the Pulse with this work and hope that others may live on thanks to the lessons learned and their memories.  As Chief Drozd says, “So that Others May Live.”  The NFPA and the Technical Committee need the help of the public to make this the best standard it can be.  Anyone can come to a meeting or make inputs and comments to the draft once it is posted.  If you would like to know more and follow along with the development of NFPA 3000, please go to and then click "receive email alerts" to receive updates on the development process as they are posted.  Its a big world, let's protect it together!

NFPA 1, 2018 sneak peek: New requirements for marijuana growing, processing and extraction facilities, #FireCodefridays

Many exciting changes are coming to the 2018 edition of NFPA 1, Fire Code, that will address a number of new technical topics as well as revise and expand on existing topics.  Changes such as a completely revised and updated chapter on Energy Storage Systems, new requirements for mobile cooking operations (food trucks) and even a new chapter on marijuana growing, processing and extraction facilities reflect how the Fire Code stays up to date with industry needs and technological developments. New Chapter 38 will address the growing and processing of marijuana (which includes all forms of cannabis as well as hemp) in both new and existing buildings.  It does not establish provisions for the retail sales of marijuana where growing and processing does not occur. You might be asking, "how did NFPA become involved in developing code requirements for marijuana buildings?" because yes, I have been asked that a bunch of times during this revision cycle.  The background on how this new chapter came about is important to both understanding how codes and standards are developed and is also a prime example of how NFPA is responding to the immediate needs of its stakeholders.   Photo from NFPA Journal Sept/Oct 2016 article "Welcome to the Jungle"   In the fall of 2015, a member of the Fire Code Technical Committee was approached by an AHJ about the increase in these types of facilities in their jurisdiction and the need for a model code to provide guidance on how jurisdictions can protect them as well as keep those responding to fires in these facilities safe.  These jurisdictions needed help, and NFPA 1 was a logical place to start.  During the First Draft meeting, the NFPA 1 committee approved a Committee Input which introduced a draft of the new chapter.  Throughout the year leading up to the Second Draft meeting a task group consisting of both committee members as well as industry professionals worked to refine and develop a revised draft of the chapter.  This new Chapter 38 was presented to the fill NFPA 1 Technical Committee at their Second Draft Meeting last October and after additional work during the meeting was accepted as a Second Revision and will be included in the 2018 edition of NFPA 1 when it is approved by the Standards Council later this summer. Not every jurisdiction is dealing with these facilities.  However, as a country, we are seeing more and more states who are legalizing the use of marijuana either recreationally or medically.  To meet those demands, there are facilities, either built new or fit into an existing structure that have to grow and process the marijuana into the various products used by consumers.  There needed to be a baseline for those responsible for inspecting and enforcement of these facilities. When developing the provisions for new Chapter 38, the task group was focused on addressing those hazards that are unique to marijuana growing and processing all while relying on existing provisions in the Code that may help contribute to the safety of the facility.  For example, it was not the goal of the task group to rewrite egress provisions when NFPA 101 adequately addresses egress and is contained in Chapter 14 of NFPA 1, or to copy electrical requirements as those are already addressed by Chapter 11 and NFPA 70.  The chapter is organized to address general provisions, provisions specific to growing and production, and those requirements specific to extraction processes.  The extraction section is then split up by general provisions and then requirements specific to the extraction solvent, as follows: 38.1 Application 38.2 Permits 38.3 Fire Protection Systems 38.4 Means of Egress 38.5 Growing or Production of Marijuana (including ventilation, fumigation, and pesticide application) 38.6 Processing or Extraction General (extraction room, staffing, operator training, signage, equipment, approval for equipment with no listing, equipment field verifications) LP Gas Extraction Flammable and Combustible Liquids Extraction CO2 extraction Transfilling Those interested can view the current draft of NFPA 1 and view new Chapter 38 in its entirely.  It is hopeful that the provisions introduced in this Chapter will help those jurisdictions faced with enforcing, inspecting and responding to incidents at marijuana processing and extraction facilities.  NFPA is also offering additional resources for our stakeholders including educational sessions at this years NFPA Conference, journal articles, photos, and links to existing regulations used in some jurisdictions that also contributed to the development of NFPA 1 requirements.  Check them out today! Thanks for reading, Happy Friday! You can follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. 
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