Topic: Research

New web version and quarterly print schedule for NFPA Journal

NFPA Journal®, the magazine of the National Fire Protection Association, has launched a new web version and moved to a quarterly print publication schedule as part of a larger plan to expand the magazine’s online presence, extend the association’s global reach, and provide convenient access to a range of content generated by the award-winning NFPA Journal team and the magazine’s many contributors. The new NFPA Journal online site will feature highlighted pieces from the print magazine, as well as breaking news coverage, thought leadership content, a daily feed of national fire service news, and the latest installments of the popular NFPA Podcast and Learn Something New video series. Readers can also view the current issue of the magazine in digital flipbook format and access NFPA Journal en Espanol. Until recently the print edition of NFPA Journal was published on a bimonthly basis. Now, NFPA Journal will be distributed exclusively to NFPA members in February, May, August, and November. The magazine will continue to provide in-depth coverage of emerging trends, codes and standards development, and education and advocacy initiatives to NFPA members. “These changes mark an exciting point in the evolution of NFPA Journal and represent an important part of NFPA’s growing international influence,” said Scott Sutherland, executive editor of NFPA Journal. “Our new and expanded web identity, combined with our new print schedule, will help us reach more audiences around the world with a wider variety of stories on emerging fire and life safety issues.” Visit and bookmark nfpa.org/journal to access fire, electrical, building and life safety news or download the NFPA Journal app for IOSor >Android today.

Fire Protection Research Foundation Board of Trustees Welcomes Two New Members

The Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, has appointed two new members to its Board of Trustees. Effective January 1, 2021, Lou Gritzo of FM Global and Peg Paul of Peg Paul Associates will serve three-year terms. The Research Foundation also announced that Rodger Reiswig from Johnson Controls and Thomas Gell from Brandforsk Sweden will serve a second round of three-year terms on the Board of Trustees. Dr. Lou Gritzo is currently the vice president and manager of research with FM Global and is charged with overseeing a division of scientists who specialize in fire, explosions, natural hazards (windstorms, floods, earthquakes), equipment, risk and reliability and cyber hazards. Given FM Global’s interest in understanding property hazards and identifying scientifically proven solutions to prevent property and business interruption loss, Gritzo is a strong fit for the Research Foundation leadership role. Gritzo has served on NFPA’s Research Advisory Committee, as well. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and a minor in applied mathematics, Gritzo has served as chair of both the Board of Directors of the Innovation Research Interchange (formerly the Industrial Research Institute) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Heat Transfer Division Executive Committee. He has also served on the Governing Board of the Global Earthquake Model, the ABET Industrial Advisory Committee, and spent time on the Research Foundation’s Research Advisory Committee as well as committees for several universities. Peg Paul is currently the president of Peg Paul & Associates (PPA), a marketing communications agency founded in 2000 that specializes in developing and implementing multi-integrated information and education campaigns. PPA supports a wide range of client needs but has especially established a niche in public safety promotion and has been retained for this purpose by some of the leading national safety advocacy groups, trade associations and industries. Paul has been the communications manager for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition since 1997, where she oversees the development and implementation of educational programs for consumers, members of the fire service, the home building industry, real estate and insurance agents, water purveyors and other targeted groups. She also serves on the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Fire and Life Safety Section, and was an invaluable member of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors Board of Directors for ten years. Paul was also recognized as the 2014 Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year by the American Fire Sprinkler Association. We welcome and thank Dr. Gritzo and Peg Paul.
A fireplace in a home

Despite improvement, home fires involving heating equipment remain a concern

A newly-released NFPA report estimates that home heating equipment was responsible for just over 48,500 home fires each year between 2014 and 2018, and that these fires caused an estimated 500 civilian deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage each year. Home fires caused by heating equipment most often involved space heaters, which accounted for just over two in five fires, as well as four in five deaths and injuries and more than half of the direct property damage. Fireplaces or chimneys, responsible for approximately three in ten fires caused by heating equipment, were the second leading cause of home heating equipment fires.  The fires caused by fireplaces or chimneys led to proportionately fewer deaths or injuries but were responsible for nearly one-quarter of the direct property damage. Central heating systems and water heaters each accounted for approximately one in ten fires caused by heating equipment, but smaller shares of deaths, injuries, and direct property damage. Attention to fire safety with heating equipment is a real concern. Heating equipment was responsible for one in seven home structure fires and one-fifth of home fire fatalities in 2014-2018. The NFPA report nevertheless finds some encouraging news on the overall trends for heating equipment fires. The estimated annual number of home heating equipment fires has fallen from over 70,000 fires each year between 2000 and 2003 to fewer than 50,000 since 2015, with a new low point of 43,620 estimated fires in 2017. Still, there is clearly more work to be done to reduce the burden of home heating fires. NFPA identifies a number of home safety practices that can help to prevent fires caused by heating equipment. These include: Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. Maintain a three-foot “kid-free zone” around home fires and space heaters. Never use your oven to heat your home. Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, and central heating equipment according to local codes and manufacturer’s instructions. Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected and cleaned every year by a qualified professional. Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving a room or going to bed. Always use the appropriate type of fuel, as specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters. Ensure that the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop embers from flying into the room. Make sure that ashes are cool before placing them in a bin for removal. More information on home heating equipment safety practices is available here. Learn more and download the full report, "Home Heating Fires."

Use these 4 easy steps to build your home wildfire safety knowledge

Nearly 45 million homes currently exist in our nation’s wildland-urban interface (WUI). With more people moving to areas of wildfire risk every year, it’s critical that residents take action to help protect their homes and communities from wildfire. The challenge faced in many communities is that residents may not fully understand the risks or actions they can take to reduce them. Many people may believe that firefighters will be able to protect their homes and rescue them from wildfires, not understanding that residents have an important role to play in their own safety. So, what can you do as a resident in the WUI? The first step is to make sure you understand the concept of the “home ignition zone” and how it impacts your home. Years of scientific research show that removing fuel sources from the area immediately around the home reduces the risk of home ignition from embers or radiant heat. The basic idea of the Home Ignition Zone is that the construction and composition of a home and its surrounding vegetation have the biggest influence on whether a home will ignite from a wildfire. The first 0 to 5 feet around a structure, known as the “Immediate Zone,” is critical. Work there to reduce the risk may be no more complicated than seasonal yard and debris cleaning.  Firewise USA® has online resources that can help you build your knowledge in 4 easy steps: First, visit the program’s Home Ignition Zone resource page. There, you can read more about the risks to homes by wildfire embers and actions you can take in the “Immediate”, “Intermediate”, and “Extended” zones from your home to reduce those risks. Second, view the 30-min, “Understanding the Wildfire Threat to Homes”, online training video. This engaging video will help you understand the basics of how wildfires progress, ignite homes, and the actions that can be implemented to make homes safer. Third, read the various Wildfire Research Fact Sheets, created by NFPA and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. These will take your strong knowledge of the home ignition zone and apply it to risk areas around your house, like vents & under-eave construction, roofing materials, skylights, siding, decks, and fencing. Fourth, put this knowledge into action by viewing the 30-min, “Community Wildfire Risk Assessment”, online interactive tutorial. You will learn how to evaluate your community’s strengths and vulnerabilities to wildfire and define action plans that you and your neighbors can accomplish. Next, build on these steps by learning about your local fire history and the situational awareness of wildfire threats.Your local fire department and state forestry agency will have many resources to help develop this knowledge. Now, talk with your neighbors. All of this knowledge can’t stay in a vacuum.Residents must work together, sharing knowledge and even volunteering to help others, because wildfire is a common risk to an entire community. Federal campaigns like the “Fire Adapted Communities” Network foster communication among all stakeholders in a community.  National programs like Firewise USA® give residents a common purpose in a neighborhood and a path forward.  What can local government and agencies do to support the building of public knowledge? All levels of government can help create a more informed public that is ready to take steps needed for a future with more wildfire activity. Through initiatives like educating residents on ignition-resistant home improvements and property mitigation; to supporting the development of a trusted workforce homeowners can look to for mitigation guidance and labor; to funding social science research to better understand human behavior in the context of disasters; and ensuring people know what actions to take when there is a wildfire, including evacuation; these will not only save lives and property but also reduce the burden on first responders.  Fire safety educators should keep in mind that people might be new to the entire concept. In some cases, people move to new areas because of employment, life changes, or retirement. In other cases, the very landscape around them evolves, due to development, regional drought, and invasive vegetation. Whatever the case may be, the public must understand the risks around them and importantly, feel empowered that they can indeed make a difference.   There is also the challenge of reaching all of those at risk to wildfire. These include the elderly, disabled, and economically disadvantaged groups who are more likely to be in areas of higher wildfire risk and who often face tragic results from wildfire events.  Additionally, there are folks at risk, maybe even your own neighbors, who may not have the means or ability to do risk reduction steps around their home.Local governments and agencies must ensure that their outreach recognizes and meets the needs of all their residents. Learn more from the resource links above and bring your knowledge to the solution for wildfire loss. 

Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and Fire Sprinkler Initiative announce dates for 2021 Home Fire Sprinkler Week

Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) announced that its annual Home Fire Sprinkler Week (HFSW) done in collaboration with the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative will take place May 16-22. Recognizing its 25th anniversary, HSFC is expanding its reach with new ideas and tools that further the life-saving educational messages of home fire sprinklers. HFSW highlights include a digital campaign to educate younger homebuyers on the importance and need for home fire sprinklers, a video to emphasize the positive environmental impact of home fire sprinklers, and daily educational themes and graphics to be shared on social media. HFSC is also planning on releasing a new virtual reality resource to help people personally understand how fire and deadly smoke quickly spread and allow them to experience the power of home fire sprinklers up close. Another addition to Home Fire Sprinkler Week is a stipend program, which will award local fire departments dedicated to home fire sprinkler education with money to use on socially-distanced community outreach programs, including construction of a to-scale NFPA 13D riser. Read the announcement for more information and plan your local activities to support this week. To learn more about home fire sprinklers and how to increase the number of homes being built with sprinklers in your community, visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative.
A house on fire

Post new year fires show that we still have much work to do in 2021 and beyond to reduce home fire deaths

This article initially appeared in the January issue of the NFPA Network newsletter. After a nice holiday break, I returned to work on January 4th and was immediately struck by stories from around the globe about home fires and civilian loss of life. The news feed that day and since has led me to wonder if, after years of having nearly 3,000 home fire deaths, if 2021 will be the year that we all commit to and realize a decrease in tragedies. With New Year’s Day barely in the rearview, I learned about fatal residential fires in Connecticut, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Those harrowing incidents were followed by residential fires in Rhode Island and Maryland that claimed the lives of parents trying to save their own children. I was equally saddened to read that a 6-year old autistic boy perished in a fire on Chicago’s Far South Side when a mother left him and his 13-year old brother unattended. Then there were two separate fires in East Texas and Melbourne, Australia where mothers and their three children died. And if those incidents weren’t hard enough to fathom, six people succumbed to a blaze in DeKalb, Georgia while on the other side of the world eight people died (and 90 residents were evacuated) when fire broke out in an apartment block fire in Russia. All these recent misfortunes, and I’m sure some additional ones, took place before we even hit the two-week mark of 2021 and beg the question, why are we still seeing thousands dying annually in home fires? NFPA has been gathering fire death statistics and insights via our annual fire experience survey since 1977 and began to incorporate National Fire Incident Reporting System data in 1980. We actually began collecting information on fires with 10 or more deaths long before that – we have records back to the origins of NFPA in 1896 and our first archival fire incident record is from 63 A.D.  Today’s most recent report on home fires shows that, on average, more than 353,000 home fires and 2,620 civilian deaths occur per year. As the incidents noted above and research shows, January is the top month for home fires and deaths. Despite the 2019 fire loss estimates being 43 percent lower in one- or two-family homes and 63 percent lower in apartments than they were in 1980, we have plateaued at nearly 3,000 deaths annually for far too long. We can and must do better. NFPA can help. Our public education team has an abundance of resources, in a variety of languages, that are designed to help educate audiences about fire hazards and safety tips during community outreach and via social media. Please take advantage of these tools, and recommit the time and energy needed to sharing fire prevention strategies that will help us to move the home fire death needle downward.    Be inspired by Massachusetts which reported last week that, for the first time on record, no children died in home fires in the Bay State in 2020. State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “To have no children, no one under the age of 18, die in a fire in Massachusetts is an amazing accomplishment. Through the 26 years of the Student Awareness of Fire Education Program (S.AF.E.), firefighters and classroom teachers have been helping to raise a fire safe generation of children. Historically, children and seniors have been most at risk of dying in fires. Ultimately, responsibility for home fire safety rests with the adults in the home, but the S.A.F.E Program has brought key safety information on maintaining smoke alarms, practicing home fire drills, cooking, heating, candle and match and lighter safety home to those adults. Goodness knows there’s nothing like being nagged by a 3rd grader to test your smoke alarm.” I hope you will indulge me and embrace some well-intentioned “nagging” from NFPA so that we can reduce the number of home fire deaths in 2021.
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