Topic: NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates

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. 

#101Wednesdays: Medical Facility Occupancy Classification

The 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code was recently adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In over-simplified terms, this means medical facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), and free-standing emergency departments (EDs), must comply with the 2012 edition of NFPA 101 in order to receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. (I'm not an expert on Medicare or Medicaid, so I'll stick to the Code issues.) NFPA 101 is an occupancy-based code, so it's very important to classify occupancies correctly. Otherwise, the wrong requirements will be applied. This could result in occupants being provided with insufficient life safety features, or conversely, a building owner spending more money than necessary on life safety features that aren't warranted. Three occupancy classifications exist in the Code that could apply to medical facilities; they are: Business Occupancies, Ambulatory Health Care Occupancies, and Health Care Occupancies. The NFPA 101 definitions and a brief description of each, as they apply to medical facilities, follow. Business Occupancy. An occupancy used for the transaction of business other than mercantile. While this might not sound like a medical facility, the definition does capture the correct classification for facilities such as doctors' offices, dentists' offices, and urgent care clinics, provided that no more than three occupants are incapable of self-preservation at any time (as will become apparent momentarily). In these types of medical facilities, patients are fully capable of evacuating under their own power in the event of an emergency. The occupant life-safety risk is no different than that found in an office building. Granted, when I was a call-fire fighter/EMT back in the day, we ran the occasional ambulance call to the local doctor's office, usually for someone who was brought there because they weren't feeling well, only to find out they were having an MI (myocardial infarction, or heart attack… I remember some of what I learned in EMT school nearly 30 years ago!). While those patients were incapable of self-preservation due to their medical condition, that did not make the doctor's office anything other than a business occupancy. Those patients simply went to the wrong facility. (They should have dialed 911 and gone to the hospital.) Ambulatory Health Care Occupancy. An occupancy used to provide services or treatment simultaneously to four or more patients that provides, on an outpatient basis, one or more of the following: (1) Treatment for patients that renders the patients incapable of taking action for self-preservation under emergency conditions without the assistance of others (2) Anesthesia that renders the patients incapable of taking action for self-preservation under emergency conditions without the assistance of others (3) Emergency or urgent care for patients who, due to the nature of their injury or illness, are incapable of taking action for self-preservation under emergency conditions without the assistance of others The big difference between business occupancies and ambulatory health care occupancies is the presence of four or more patients who are incapable of self-preservation because of a variety of reasons. The other key to this definition, and what differentiates it from health care, is the phrase “on an outpatient basis.” This means that a doctor has not signed an order admitting the patient to a facility for longer-term care with housing and sleeping accommodations. When patients are outpatients, they receive medical treatment or observation and are then subsequently admitted to a facility as inpatients, or they go home. Part (1) of the definition describes something like a dialysis clinic. The treatment renders the patient incapable of self-preservation because of the lack of ability to evacuate without the assistance of staff due to being hooked up to a dialysis machine. Part (2) of the definition describes something like an ASC, in which the patient walks into the facility, is then rendered incapable of self-preservation by anesthesia for a procedure, is moved to a recovery area for observation, and then walks out of the facility, typically on the same day. A dentist's office could be classified as ambulatory health care if, at any time, four or more patients are rendered incapable of self-preservation. Part (3) of the definition, which was new in the 2003 edition of the Code, can apply to an emergency department (ED), whether it is attached to a hospital, or a detached, free-standing facility. If attached to a hospital and classified as ambulatory health care, it must be separated from the remainder of the building by two-hour fire barriers (see of the 2012 edition and of the 2015 edition). The advantages to classifying an ED as ambulatory health care include: it is not subject to suite size limitations applicable to health care occupancies, patient rooms can be open to the corridor, and the health care occupancy corridor protection requirements don't apply. Again, the key is the patients in the ED are outpatients; once four or more inpatients who are incapable of self-preservation are present, the facility is classified as health care. Health Care Occupancy. An occupancy used to provide medical or other treatment or care simultaneously to four or more patients on an inpatient basis, where such patients are mostly incapable of self-preservation due to age, physical or mental disability, or because of security measures not under the occupants' control. Health care occupancies are like ambulatory health care occupancies in that they contain four or more patients who are incapable of self-preservation; however, health care patients are inpatients, rather than outpatients, and are provided with housing and sleeping accommodations to facilitate extended care. Examples are hospitals, nursing homes (SNFs), and limited-care facilities, which could include something like psychiatric hospitals. These facilities are provided with the highest level of life safety features due to the number of patients expected to be unable to evacuate themselves on an around-the-clock basis. For health care occupancies, the Code utilizes a defend-in-place strategy, in which patients are moved from the area of fire origin to an adjacent, protected smoke compartment, without requiring vertical travel in the building. While all three of these occupancies provide varying degrees of health care services, the protection requirements for life safety from fire vary significantly, all dependent on the occupant risk. It's important to note that it's always the authority having jurisdiction's (AHJ's) responsibility to determine occupancy classification. The AHJ always has the authority to apply the Code in the manner it deems appropriate. My discussion is based on how the Code is intended to be applied as developed by NFPA's Technical Committees on Safety to Life. If you have any thoughts on the occupancy classification of medical facilities, please post them in the comments below. 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! 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.” Now you can follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH
Wildfire Community NJ

NFPA wildfire standards revised for 2017

Over 2016, NFPA's Wildland and Rural Fire Protection Standards Committee held its “second draft review” of public comments to ensure the standards remain relevant in their field. As explained by NFPA, the standards development process encourages public participation in the development of its standards. All NFPA standards are revised and updated every three to five years, in revision cycles that begin twice each year. This public participation to the standards began in 2015 for the 2017 revision cycle of NFPA 1144: Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire, and NFPA 1143: Wildland Fire Management. The committee's work culminated in a review meeting in Nashville, TN, over September 29, 2016. Revisions and clarifications were made to the standards and will be presented to NFPA's Standards Council in 2017. I spoke with the committee staff Liaison, Tom McGowan, who shared highlights of the committee's deliberations and new revisions for each standard below. NFPA 1144 – Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire • Clarified definitions including defensible space, fire resistive, ignition-resistant material, immediate landscaped area, noncombustible material, slope, structure ignition zone, water supply, wildland/urban interface and intermix. • Map elements to also include hydrants, cisterns, and water sources • Structural assessment will include an evaluation of the site for conflagration hazards. • Significant revisions to construction design and materials of the structure and components supported by ASTM testing standards and specific compliance elements found in chapter 5:  Roof design and materials Vents for attics, subfloors, and walls All projections including balconies, carports, decks, patio covers, enclosed roofs and floors Exterior vertical walls Exterior openings NFPA 1143 - Wildland Fire Management • Revised terminology from Wildland Fire Control to Wildland Fire Management to be more representative of the document's intent. • Aligned training and qualifications with NFPA or National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) • Aligned incident management chapter to National Incident Management System (NIMS) • Clarified the terminology and redefined fire suppression subsections including size-up, fire engagement and management, and mop-up and demobilization. • Revised responsibilities of Public Information Officer (PIO) to comply with NIMS. • Revised responsibilities of Safety Officer to participate in tactics and planning meetings as outlined in NIMS. • Clarified required documentation for Finance and Administration. • Updated NWCG publications reference material. The revised editions for 2017-2019 will become available in mid-2017. We encourage you to learn more about NFPA's various wildland fire standards and to utilize them in your local risk reduction activities. I share my thanks to the members of NFPA's Wildland and Rural Fire Protection Standards Committee for their volunteer work over the past two years as well. Photo Credit: (second) NWCG photo library, April Deming, NPS 2014_09_09-19_36_23_966-CDT

Should you sleep with your bedroom door closed? NFPA's Educational Messages Advisory Committee will discuss this issue at its March 2016 meeting

Recent media coverage and new Underwriters Laboratories (UL) research has brought to the forefront again the issue of whether fire and life safety educators should be saying people should sleep with bedroom doors shut to be safer from fire. NFPA's Educational Messages Advisory Committee (EMAC) has reviewed the issue in the past and determined that if residents sleep with bedroom doors closed, it is important that they have interconnected smoke alarms. EMAC will meet March 30-31 at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, MA and is slated to discuss the topic again. And whether or not sleeping with the bedroom door closed should be added to EMAC messaging. EMAC will review new UL research documents, media clips, and other documentation submitted before making a determination on NFPA's official position. NFPA is accepting comments for revision to the EMAC document through February 26, 2016. UL research shows how a closed door can keep smoke out of a bedroom longer as well as change the flow of heat and toxic gases, acting as a shield for someone trapped and unable to get out of a fire. NFPA stresses the importance of having a working smoke alarm inside each bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds they all sound. Read the full story and watch the videos of each of the UL tests for more information.
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