Topic: Research

FPRF to Host Free Webinar on Firefighter PPE Cleaning

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of NFPA®, will host a free webinar on September 28, 2023, titled “Fire Service PPE Cleaning Validation.” Firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE) is exposed to a wide range of toxic chemicals, biological pathogens, and other hazardous substances and contaminants. Those contaminants soil firefighter PPE and other fire service gear. Cross-contaminated equipment and gear are suspected of adversely influencing immediate and long-term firefighter health and wellness. To lessen the risk of these exposures, PPE and other gear are being cleaned more frequently. NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, address general cleaning procedures, but more science is needed to support, clarify, and enhance those procedures. Major research efforts are addressing the question of “How clean is clean?” In late 2015, FPRF initiated PPE cleaning validation research through a 3-year assistance to firefighters grant (AFG) for developing comprehensive procedures to evaluate cleaning in removing both chemical and biological contaminants that ensure optimum contaminant removal from firefighter PPE. As part of this larger effort, FPRF is leading a unique research team partnership that also includes International Personnel Protection, Inc. (IPP, Inc.) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This research established validated cleaning procedures focused on PPE textile garments that are traditionally cleaned in commercial laundering extractors that led to the implementation of gear cleaning and sanitization verification procedures adopted as part of NFPA 1851. A second phase effort was undertaken in late 2018 to establish a validated and scientifically based cleaning methodology for the primary spectrum of potentially contaminated fire service PPE, including turnout clothing and equipment not addressed by previous work such as helmets, gloves, footwear, and SCBA. The research in this project has expanded the available knowledge on fireground contamination, particularly to where it is likely to be found at the highest concentrations and how effectively it can be removed from the range of different firefighter PPE. The findings from this work show that different protective clothing and equipment items being of distinctive designs and comprised of dissimilar materials show varying affinities for becoming contaminated and in being able to be decontaminated. A third phase effort is now ongoing that augments the prior two phases of research to establish and communicate comprehensive best practices the fire service can apply to effectively clean and sanitize firefighter PPE. The principal aim for this new effort is to comprehensively identify the most effective and practical decontamination approaches for each element of the firefighter ensemble to create simple, easy-to-implement tools that fire departments can use to assess PPE contamination from individual structural fires and the effectiveness of their internal cleaning procedures. This webinar will provide an update of findings from this multi-year research effort. Jeffrey Stull, International Personnel Protection, Inc., and Crystal Forester, NIOSH NPPTL, are the presenters of this webinar. Webinar registration is free and required to attend live; register for this webinar using the direct link here, or by visiting, where you can also watch archived FPRF webinars on demand. The Fire Protection Research Foundation acknowledges the support from 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   To learn more about this project, visit
The world

As Populations Grow and New Hazards Emerge, Understanding Global Trends and Research Can Help Us Chart the Course

SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 UPDATE: The fire that broke out in a ramshackle five-story apartment building in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 31 killed at least 73 people, including many who were homeless. The fire underscores global concerns about fire and life safety, particularly among developing nations and areas where housing pressures create additional risks for the poorest and most vulnerable populations. The conditions in which the Johannesburg occupants were living directly contributed to the large loss of life, reinforcing the need for established building codes and provisions that work to effectively protect people and property. This blog, which I originally wrote almost two years ago, touches on this and associated issues. Additionally, the NFPA Journal article “Ultra Urban,” published in the Winter 2021 edition, speaks to a wide range of fire and life safety concerns that have emerged as populations increasingly move to more urban settings. The following blog was originally published October 8, 2021. More people living on the planet creates pressure, on so many levels, in society. Fire and life safety is one of those pressures. Some fire safety challenges are directly related to the increase in population and urbanization, while others stem from our desire to mitigate the impact of having more humans on the planet. Population  growth overall has precipitated an upward shift in the number of people living in urban areas. In fact, the UN estimates that the world’s population living in urban settlements will increase to 60 percent by 2030 with one in every three people opting to reside in cities that have at least half a million inhabitants. Furthermore, it is projected that 2.5 billion will be added to the world’s urban population by 2050, with almost 90 percent of this growth happening in Asia and Africa. The magnitude of this population growth puts enormous pressure on our built environment and has already spurred the construction of more tall buildings and denser cities. As population grows, it is important that we mitigate the impact we have on our planet by ensuring that current and future development is done in a sustainable way. This shift has resulted in significant changes to our built environment in recent decades, and has ushered in new products, alternative energy sources, unique energy storage solutions, and the use of more lightweight materials with higher levels of insulation. The need for sustainability and energy efficiency is clear but unfortunately prioritizing the impact on our fire and life safety in the process is less so. We continue to see solutions developed with sustainability and/or energy efficiency in mind but fire and life safety components for these technologies are not being adequately explored. Need some examples? Just think about the dramatic fires we have seen running up the facades of high-rise buildings in the last decade. Or explosions in modern energy storage systems. How about the car fires that are challenging parking garage structures? And don’t forget the fires caused or complicated by the integration of photovoltaic panels on our buildings. While fire and life safety should always be at the forefront, we must also choose solutions that are sustainable for the long haul. When identifying and implementing new fire protection solutions, it is most critical to avoid any “substitution regret”. Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) are an example of a solution, which had been used as dominant Class B firefighting foams for decades, and eventually were found to have an adverse environmental impact due to its chemical composition. Today, replacements foams and agents are tested and studied for its effectiveness to satisfy the immediate needs, as well as the long-term safety of all involved. To complicate matters further,  life safety challenges are often most prominent in areas where income levels are lower. So, with rapid growth in cities, it is inevitable that there will be insufficient affordable housing thus prompting larger numbers of people to live in informal settlements where housing may not comply with planning, building, and safety regulations. It is tempting to dismiss this as a systemic issue in low- and middle-income countries but the fact is that low income areas exists in all countries, including the United States, and are often where the fire problem is the most significant. If we want to eliminate the fire problem, we simply cannot ignore its impact in low-income areas. Reading all this, one can easily get discouraged and think that we will never be able to eliminate the fire problem. But do not despair, because researchers have been working on all the issues mentioned above and more, so that we can continue to come up with solutions that will help us to improve safety.
Partial list of Wildland Fires in U.S. History with Ten or More Fatalities

Maui wildfire one of deadliest in U.S. history

*Since this blog was first published, the death toll has continued to climb. As of August 25, the reported number of deaths is 115.   According to NFPA research, this week’s Lahaina Fire death toll, now at 80 people, is among the top ten deadliest wildfires on record since 1871.   “Through a deadly combination of human and natural causes, we now see unprecedented wildfires in every corner of the globe and in communities that were previously not viewed as high risk,” said NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley. “This painful and tragic reality was on full display in Maui as wind driven fires overwhelmed the small island.”   Pauley’s statements are reinforced in additional facts from NFPA research including that four of the deadliest wildfires in the U.S., including this one, have occurred since 2017.   He continued, “While voluntary actions to mitigate property have proved successful to an extent, the sheer volume of communities at risk requires changes to where we build, how we build, and what we do to existing properties through stronger policies to create a built environment better able to withstand such massive devastation.”   Today there are nearly 45 million homes in the wildland/urban interface (WUI). According to the National Interagency Fire Center, some 71.8 million properties in the U.S. are at some level of risk from wildfire. Each year some of the largest-loss fires occur in the WUI.   In the past five years, wildfires have destroyed nearly 63,000 structures in the U.S., the majority of which were homes. Record high temperatures, serious drought conditions, and high winds from severe weather events such as thunder and lightning storms have been blamed for the recent increase in wildfire activity in Canada, Europe, and in high-risk areas across the U.S. Officials predict more wildfires will erupt in the coming months due to continued dry heat and increased storm activity, prompting residents to look for information on what they can do to reduce their risk before a wildfire.   In a media advisory this week, NFPA provided resources for media and the public on various aspects for the wildfire problem.   Additional information, resources, and articles: Outthink Wildfire™, a comprehensive strategy that lays out five key policy changes that need to be made at the federal, state, and local levels and if followed, will end the destruction of communities by wildfire over the next 30 years. Firewise USA® recognition program that empowers residents to work collaboratively in reducing wildfire risks. Prepare Your Home for Wildfire Fact Sheet Home Ignition Zone Checklist Wildfire Preparedness Tips NFPA/IBHS Wildfire Research Fact Sheet Series Blog: Clearing the Five-Foot Zone Around Your Home is Critical to Safety from Wildfires NFPA Journal, May 2023 Wildfire Column: Inflection Point   For additional resources and information, and to learn more about how to keep families safe and reduce homeowners’ risk for wildfire damage, please visit NFPA’s wildfire  webpage.   For those seeking information on federal disaster assistance, please visit FEMA.  

With E-Bike Fires on the Rise, an Expert Panel Takes a Deeper Look at Lithium-Ion Battery Safety at the NFPA Conference & Expo

Electric bicycles and electric scooters—commonly known as e-bikes and e-scooters—are more popular now than ever. These micromobility devices give thousands of riders in metropolitan areas around the world a lower-cost and environmentally friendly way of getting around. But the presence of lithium-ion batteries in these devices introduces the risk of fires and explosions. Most notably, we’ve seen this issue rise to the forefront in New York City where e-bike and e-scooter fires are occurring weekly.   On Tuesday morning, a fire in an e-bike repair shop in Chinatown killed four people and left two others critically injured, according to the New York Times. “It is very clear that this was caused by lithium-ion batteries and e-bikes,” New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at a news conference.   One day before this tragic incident, at one of the first education sessions of the 2023 NFPA Conference & Expo®, a panel of experts moderated by NFPA Technical Services Engineer Brian O’Connor discussed how lithium-ion batteries present a unique hazard to first responders, designers, and the public; where this new technology fits into the future of fire protection and fire prevention; and what is being done now to help advance safety. EDUCATING THE PUBLIC One of the key points raised during the discussion was the need for more diverse and nuanced messaging to help educate consumers about this growing hazard. “It’s a huge challenge,” said panel member Steve Kerber of the UL Fire Safety Research Institute. “What we’re seeing is people trying to modify these batteries to make the bikes faster or to go for longer periods of time without charging. They’re often using people not qualified to do maintenance on these bikes or they themselves don’t know how to fix them, and this creates a very dangerous situation. Public education is important.” RELATED: Read “Full Throttle,” an August 2022 NFPA Journal article about the rise in the popularity of e-bikes and the fire risks they pose “There is a level of expectation of safety of these devices on the part of consumers,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, who also served as a panel member during the Monday morning session. “If people buy something new, they expect it to be safe. But we know that is not always the case. A more expensive device does not necessarily mean it is safer.”   “ If people buy something new, they expect it to be safe. But we know that is not always the case.   “What I’m observing is a socio-economic issue,” added Nick Petrakis, an engineer with the Energy Storage Response Group, who joined Carli and Kerber on the stage. “Many people, like delivery workers for instance, rely on e-bikes for their livelihoods, taking advantage of this low-cost means of transportation to get them to their jobs that help support their family. But these people are the hardest to reach when it comes to safety messaging.” The panel then discussed how to socialize this information when traditional means are not the most effective direction. “These are real issues that need to be solved in simple terms,” Petrakis said, “and we need to meet people where they are.” Providing messaging that is digestible and easy to understand is the best way forward, he said. Carli agreed, saying it is going to require some new ways of thinking and delivering information. Ideas such as video messaging and partnering with more non-traditional community and local organizations are just a few of the ways to reach these audiences. She then pointed to the grassroots efforts of NFPA public safety educators in communities and research from UL that has helped inform the association’s safety messaging. BATTERY REGULATION & RESOURCES   As the session began to wind down, the panel touched on research and the use of data, which they say will be able to inform the decisions we make in the future, as well as the role regulations or stricter requirements can play in reducing fire incidents. Kerber pointed to the research UL is involved in which came about from hazmat discussions with the FDNY and their work with sprinklers. “The good news is this is where codes and standards can play a big role,” Kerber said. “Without requirements and only suggestions for safety, manufacturers don’t feel the need to follow the rules. Having stricter guidelines can lead to a more quality product and less incidents. While it’s slow, it does appear that more people seem to be following this trend of safety first.” Last fall, NFPA cosponsored a symposium with the FDNY Foundation and UL in New York titled “Lithium-Ion Batteries: Challenges for the Fire Service.” The symposium focused on the concerns fire officials have about the growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries that are powering many of today’s electrical vehicles, in addition to smartphones, smoke alarms, toys, and power tools. In response, NFPA created a new webpage and tip sheet that provide important safety information for public educators, building and store owners, the fire service, and electricians on the hazards of lithium-ion batteries, most notably around why e-bikes and e-scooters catch fire, what some jurisdictions are doing to better regulate that risk, and what people can do to stay safe if they use, store, or charge e-bikes or e-scooters, and other products that use lithium-ion batteries. You can find this information and more at If you’re a member of the fire service, you’ll also want to check out our informative NFPA Podcast series, and in particular, a recent podcast devoted to the topic of e-bike and e-scooter safety. Host Angelo Verzoni interviews an FDNY chief about New York’s experience over the last few years with micromobility devices and digs deeper into the subject, talking to a technical advisor at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Looking for additional information about lithium-ion battery safety? A new NFPA webpage,, brings together several existing resources including code information, educational materials, and talking points that can help promote safer use of lithium-ion batteries across a wide range of applications from cellphones to vehicles to energy storage systems. Whether you’re a consumer, member of the fire service, or other fire safety industry professional, find the resources you can share to help educate your community. Stay tuned to this page over the next few weeks as new resources including a toolkit and instructive Q&A section will be added. With the topic of lithium-ion battery safety at the forefront of today’s news, you can stay on top of the very latest in research, safe practices, and trainings when you attend this week’s Conference & Expo. On Tuesday, Chargepoint experts Kevin Cheong and Gary Eldridge discussed Rapid Charging a Li-Ion Battery Without Killing the Electrical Grid. Later today, David Paoletta from the BSI Group will provide an overview of how lithium-ion battery research and development laboratories, together with EV auto service shops and other companies, are integrating high-voltage lithium-ion batteries into their products and managing the shock, arc flash, and fire hazards presented by the technology. Check out the full schedule by visiting our website or Conference app.

U.S. Civilian Fire Death Rates Present Concerning Trends

The United States has made remarkable progress in fire safety since 1980, witnessing a decrease in both fires and fire-related deaths. This positive trend can be attributed to various factors, including improved building codes, enhanced fire suppression systems, increased awareness, and better fire prevention strategies. To gain deeper insights into recent trends, NFPA® recently released the report Fire Loss in the United States During 2021, which highlights fire incidents and deaths in recent years. Its findings highlight the increase in reported fire incidents and related fatalities as well as the importance of promoting fire prevention, education, and preparedness efforts. It also sheds light on the disconcerting increase in the rate of injuries and deaths in reported home fires since 1980. As NFPA Fire Analysis Research Manager Shelby Hall and NFPA Director of Research Birgitte Messerschmidt discussed during the NFPA C&E session Civilian Fire Death Rate Trends from 1980 - 2021, the findings call for urgent attention and emphasize the need for enhanced fire safety measures. According to the report, the rate of injury and death in reported home fires is higher now than it was in 1980. While improvements have been made in fire prevention and safety measures, the data reveals that these efforts have not been sufficient to control the rising casualties. The estimate of total fires in 2021 was 55% lower than in 1980, while fire death and injury estimates were 42% and 44% lower, respectively, over the same period. In 2021, local fire departments, including departments protecting towns, townships, cities, and counties, responded to an estimated 1,353,500 fires in the U.S. These fires caused an estimated 3,800 civilian deaths, 14,700 civilian injuries, and $15.9 billion in direct property damage. Meanwhile, direct property damage decreased by 30 percent compared to the property damage in 2020. “Tackling this alarming trend requires a concerted effort involving education, regulatory measures, technological advancements, and community engagement,” said Messerschmidt. “Understanding the underlying causes and developing comprehensive solutions is paramount to reducing these incidents and protecting lives.”

The World of the Fire Protection Handbook Comes to the NFPA Conference & Expo

As you may have heard, NFPA has released the 21st edition of its flagship publication, the Fire Protection Handbook (FPH). It’s been 15 years since NFPA has released a new edition and the response has been positively overwhelming. Dubbed the most comprehensive, one-of-a-kind guide for fire and life safety students and professionals, the guide features content reflecting the very latest fire protection and fire safety information, research and data, emerging technologies, and safety practices. Since 1896, the FPH (previously called the Handbook of the Underwriter’s Bureau of New England) has been supporting practitioners as they advance in their careers, providing them with the answers they need to their fire protection questions. If you want to learn more about the handbook or are thinking about purchasing this latest edition for yourself or your office, library, or department, you won’t want to miss a special NFPA Conference & Expo® session happening today (Tuesday) at 11 a.m. in Oceanside D. During the session, Kristin Bigda, NFPA publications strategy director, and Jonathan Hart, NFPA technical lead for Engineering Technical Services, will take your questions and talk about how the world of fire protection has changed in the nearly two decades since the last edition of the FPH was published, and how this evolution is reflected in the many chapters of the 21st edition of the handbook. Interested in real world application? They’ll also provide examples of how the FPH is helping professionals everywhere grow their confidence and understanding of fire safety practices in our ever-changing workplace environment. Did you know that the handbook also forms the required body of knowledge for candidates pursuing the NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS) exam? The CFPS is internationally recognized as the gold standard in certification for fire protection professionals to demonstrate their proficiency in fire safety, protection, prevention, and suppression technologies. Effective January 2024, the CFPS certification exam will be based on the new edition of the Fire Protection Handbook, but until then, the exam will continue to be based on the 20th edition of the handbook. Please note that if you’re a fire protection professional who wishes to certify before the updated exam is launched, you can schedule to take the exam before January. For more information about the CFPS certification and the upcoming exam updates, visit For those of you who have ordered a copy of the handbook to be delivered here at the Conference, don’t forget to pick it up at the NFPA Marketplace, right outside the Expo Hall in the Shoreline Foyer. A special offer is available for participants here at the Conference. If you buy now, you’ll get 10 percent off the Fire Protection Handbook (NFPA members receive an additional 10 percent discount). And while you’re in the Marketplace, take a moment to check out all the great NFPA merchandise and view some of the other NFPA publications of interest to you. We look forward to seeing you there!
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