Topic: Emergency Response

How Long Does It Take for your 911 Call to Be Answered?

This was the question the NFPA technical committee responsible for writing NFPA 1225, Standard for Emergency services Communications, asked in the last revision cycle, while reviewing the existing language on this subject. A public safety answering/access point (PSAP) refers to the call center where emergency calls for the police, fire department or EMS are received from mobile or landline callers/subscribers. The 2022 edition of NFPA 1225 calls out two time-standards for dispatch: Answer requests for emergency assistance within 10 seconds 90% of the time Process the request for emergency assistance within 60 seconds 90% of the time. The standard defines “Call Answering” as the time from when the call is initiated by the caller to when it is answered by a PSAP. “Call Processing” is defined by the standard as the time from when the call is answered to when the first Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is dispatched. The NFPA Technical Committee knew these old provisions were based on the experience of the technical committee members and there was no research to suggest that these times fit the physical limitations of a communication center. Further, Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) would often question the validity of these provisions. Enter: The Fire Protection Research Foundation. This research request came from the NFPA 1225 Technical Committee and the NFPA Research Fund was able to provide the required funding to dig into these questions further. The goal of this project is to collect, analyze and summarize the call answer and processing time interval data in response to the fire and EMS events (excluding law enforcement event data) from a wide range of PSAP dispatch centers (i.e. large, small, urban, rural etc.) in the United States. The research contractor, Public Consulting Group, performed a literature review to identify common concerns for PSAPs including staffing limitations, insufficient funding, and technological issues.  PCG developed a survey questionnaire to circulate to PSAPs throughout the US, conducted a statistical analysis on the data collected and compiled all the findings and summary observations into a final report titled: “An Analysis of Public Safety Call Answering and event Processing Times”. The one-page summary provides key takeaways from the research report. There are over 6,000 active PSAPs in the US. 52 organizations submitted the requested data and 47 of those datasets are in the format consistent with the needs of this study. While this data represents less than one percent of PSAPs, in analyzing the data that was collected, PSAPs were only able to achieve the minimum time standards set by NFPA 1225, 40-50 percent of the time. It was noted that PSAPs who stated that they follow a written standard were compliant significantly more often than those who did not. Specifically, agencies that stated they follow the times described in NFPA 1225 (previously NFPA 1221, Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems, had 65% of their calls found to be compliant, versus only 27% compliance in the calls processed by agencies not following an NFPA standard. Analyzing these records, the 90th percentile for call processing times is more than twice the recommended time specified in NFPA 1225. However, records from agencies that follow written standards are compliant more than twice as often as the records from agencies without a standard. Agencies following NFPA Standards are identified to be most successful in this study. Interested in reading the report, download it here. Only have a minute? Check out this one-page project summary sheet you can share with others. Do you have a research need? Please submit it to us using the project idea submission tool. We look forward to hearing from you!  

Does CRR Planning Give You Analysis Paralysis? Let NFPA 1300 Help!

If you’re new to community risk reduction (CRR), putting together a plan can feel a bit overwhelming, and may even inhibit your efforts to move forward. But don’t let that happen!  NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, can help. It’s the industry standard for conducting community risk assessments (CRAs) and CRR plans and a valuable tool for CRR professionals, providing a comprehensive framework for assessing and reducing risks related to fire and other community emergencies. NFPA 1300 features a structured approach for identifying, assessing risks within a community—such as fire, natural disasters, and transportation—as well as identifying vulnerable populations and assessing their needs. By using this standard, CRR professionals can ensure that they are thoroughly and systematically evaluating these risks, rather than relying on intuition or incomplete information. Another important aspect of NFPA 1300 is that it promotes a community-centered approach to risk reduction. This means that it emphasizes the need to involve community members, stakeholders, and other partners in the risk assessment and planning process. By engaging members of the community in this way, CRR professionals can build buy-in for their plans and ensure that they are addressing the needs and concerns of the people who will be most affected by the risks. The standard also encourages all the key departments within a given community, including the fire department, emergency management department, law enforcement, and other agencies, to work together to collaboratively reduce the overall risk to the community. This also helps build resilience and prepare the community for any emergency. In addition, NFPA 1300 provides guidance on developing a community risk reduction plan. This includes setting goals and objectives, identifying strategies and actions, and assessing the effectiveness of the plan. By following these steps, CRR professionals can create plans that are both comprehensive and actionable, and that can be adapted over time, as needed. Print copies of NFPA 1300 are available for free, so order yours today! Also, remember that CRAIG 1300™ is an NFPA® digital dashboard that can help streamline and maximize your CRA and CRR efforts. Aligned to the industry standard on CRR, CRAIG 1300 aggregates important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the CRA process. Learn more about CRAIG 1300 by taking a demo of this dynamic, easy-to-use tool today!
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CRR Week: An Opportunity to Set Your Strategy

Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Week is a grassroots effort that works to increase awareness of CRR. CRR is a data-driven process for identifying and prioritizing local risks and using that information to develop strategic plans that increase community safety. CRR Week takes place each January starting on Martin Luther King Day, a national day of service. During this annual campaign, many local fire departments, community agencies, and national organizations highlight their CRR efforts and help others learn about it. NFPA® contributes to the work done by CRR specialists by offering NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. This standard outlines the critical steps of the CRR process and provides guidance about important stakeholders and partners engaged in the process. NFPA also provides tools to support the CRR process, such as CRAIG 1300™, the Community Risk Assessment Insight Generator. CRAIG 1300 is a digital dashboard aligned to the industry standard on CRR that wrangles important community data, provides useful data visualizations, and curates data sets to assist those working through the community risk assessment (CRA) process. For CRR professionals looking to build their collegial networks, NFPA offers the CRR Kitchen Table, a monthly virtual gathering where CRR peers discuss hot topics in the CRR space, share tools and resources, and highlight initiatives that are making a difference in their communities. The first CRR Kitchen Table of 2023 will take place on Wednesday, January 18, at 2 p.m. ET. The focus of this Kitchen Table session will be on goal setting for CRR initiatives; representatives from a variety of CRR-focused organizations will be joining the discussion. If you’d like to participate in CRR Kitchen Table sessions, please email the NFPA CRR team at  to be added to the invitation list. Additional Kitchen Table events are set for March 1 and March 29, also at 2 p.m. ET. Reach out to the team with questions about the CRR process or the NFPA tools and resources to support CRR efforts.  

January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month. How Can You Make the Most of It?

As we begin the new year and gear up for the work that lies ahead, firefighter health and safety remain a priority for all of us at NFPA®. That’s why we’re helping promote Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month, which works to increase public and member awareness about firefighter cancer risks and proactive steps to mitigate them. Sponsored by the Firefighter Cancer Support Network in coordination with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and a host of other groups, organizations, and individuals, Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month is highlighting specific aspects of the firefighter cancer problem throughout January, providing information and resources to help tackle these risks. Exposure and contamination control At NFPA, one of the ways we’ve been working to better protect firefighters from harmful exposures is through the development of NFPA 1585, Standard for Exposure and Contamination Control. The first edition of this new standard, which will be published in 2025, establishes the minimum requirements for an exposure and contamination control program for emergency services incident scene operations and training. In particular, the standard will address exposure and contamination control in emergency services facilities, in emergency vehicles and apparatus, during procedures at an incident scene, and at any other location or area where emergency service members are involved in routine or emergency operations. Public inputs for NFPA 1585 are now being considered and can be viewed at After the first draft is published in March 2023, the document will be open for public comment until May 31, 2023. Anyone with a vested interest in helping ensure the program requirements within NFPA 1585 are as effective and impactful as possible should take the time to review these comments and provide feedback by the May deadline. Prevention and detection I also encourage all firefighters to get an annual physical exam. As we all know, early detection can play a life-saving difference in effectively treating cancer and other illnesses. On a somewhat related note, NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments, which requires specific cancer screening tests (Chapter 7), is currently in the process of being consolidated—along with NFPA 1581, NFPA 1583, and NFPA 1584—into a new document, NFPA 1580, Standard for Emergency Responder Occupational Health and Wellness, which is scheduled to be published in 2025. Listen to a related podcast on the link between firefighting and cancer   The overall goal of this consolidation is to combine like documents and provide an easier combination of related information in one document. Overall, I urge every firefighter to review the information provided through the Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month website and to be an instrument of change in your own department. Speaking as firefighter from an age when we did not know what we do now about certain exposures and cancer risks, taking action now is a gift to your health and safety, and to your family and fellow firefighters. In addition to the information provided through the campaign, check out additional resources from FEMA, the CDC, and the IAFF.

2022: A Year of Challenges and Progress in Fire Safety

With the holiday season upon us and we near the end of the year, I can’t help but think about the tragedies that ushered us into 2022. The tragic fires in Philadelphia and the Bronx in early January, coupled with the barrage of wildfires, made national headlines. Throughout the year, there were many other incidents that received less mass attention yet take their tolls. Each and every one underscore the safety challenges we face in our communities and our calls to action. Reflecting on the year, 2022 was also a year of events that were central to our efforts to answer those calls and pave the way forward. They reflect the core of what NFPA does so well – bring together a wide range of people and organizations to solve problems. Throughout the year, there was also no shortage of insightful innovation. This particularly holds true for those who attended the Outthink Wildfire™ summit in May. This two-day event in Sacramento, California brought together more than 50 representatives from across the US to focus on the complex problem of wildfire risk to existing properties and communities. Participants collaboratively worked to identify the most critically important areas needing national focus and the recommendations for addressing them. A recently released summit report summarizes next steps that dozens of experts agree will help overcome the challenges the nation faces in ending wildfire disasters. I’m pleased to say work is already underway on these tasks. We saw first-hand at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in June what happens when fire, life, and electrical safety professionals gather in person. Nearly 7,000 of them, including more than 280 exhibitors attended, all engaging in thought-provoking discussions, sharing viewpoints, solutions, and services with one another. After a bit of a hiatus from in-person meetings, it was inspiring to hear participants agreed, telling me they came away from this event with a renewed sense of purpose and energy and returned to their communities armed with the kind of information and knowledge they needed to help them succeed. The growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries that power e-bikes and e-scooters prompted the FDNY Foundation, UL, and NFPA to co-sponsor a symposium in September to address these challenges. Visual demonstrations highlight the need for more public education associated with these devices and how people can protect themselves and their property. In response, NFPA launched an educational campaign, creating free resources for stakeholders to use and share with consumers. This project is a real-life example of how new technologies not only demand we be vigilant in how we respond to these emerging issues but how we collectively address risk to first responders, workers, and the public. In October, NFPA celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week™. The century milestone of the longest running public health observance in the country takes on new urgency for prevention as today’s fire problem lays squarely in homes. According to NFPA research, you are more likely to die in a home fire now than you were in 1980 driven by modern construction and contents in houses. Together with thousands of fire departments, safety advocates, and business groups, NFPA promoted this year’s theme, “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.™,” reinforcing the critical importance of developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly. Through hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity, the campaign came to life and actively engaged thousands of communities in home fire safety and prevention. As part of the 100th anniversary of FPW recognition, we also joined with the US Fire Administration and the entire fire service community for the first of its kind US Fire Administration Fire Prevention and Control Summit. Undoubtedly, this historic event will continue to be a catalyst for progress against the most pressing fire issues of the times. With the calendar turning to the new year, I’m counting on all of you to harness the energy and excitement that was evident at all these events. We must turn great insights into great action. We must continue to work together to connect the dots on safety. Together is how we can further our work to help save lives and reduce loss. Thank you for the significant role you play by joining with us to make the world safer from fire and other hazards. On behalf of NFPA, I wish you and your family a safe holiday season and a happy new year.

How To Maintain Building and Equipment Access for the Responding Fire Department

When facility managers and building owners think of fire department access, they typically think about keeping a fire lane clear, so the responding fire department has a place to set up their equipment in case of an emergency. While this is critical to an effective response, there are many other aspects of a building that need to be properly maintained to provide appropriate fire department access to the building, as well as crucial fire and life safety equipment.  Building Identification To assist emergency responders in locating properties, building address numbers must be visible from the street. Premises or building identification is covered in Section 10.11 of NFPA 1, Fire Code. Address numbers can be mounted either on the building itself or, if the building is not visible from the street, on a post located on the street. The numbers should be designed to contrast the background of the building or post and be large enough to be easily seen from the street. Fire Apparatus Access Road To provide effective manual fire suppression operations, the fire department must be able to gain reasonable access to a building. Chapter 18 of NFPA 1 provides requirements for fire apparatus access. According to the Fire Code, access roads must be provided and maintained to allow the fire apparatus to be able to get within 50 ft (15 m) of at least one exterior door and to be within at least 150 ft (46m) of all exterior portions of the first story—this is increased to 450 ft (137 m) if the building is sprinklered. These access roads should be kept unobstructed to a width of not less than 20 ft (6.1 m) and a height of not less than 13 ft 6 in. (4.1 m). Keep in mind that these widths and heights may be altered by the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to accommodate responding apparatus. It is also important to maintain the proper turning radius needed for the responding apparatus and ensure that any required turnaround space is also kept clear. If the access road has a dead end that is greater than 150 ft (46m), a turnaround space is required. To ensure that your fire apparatus access roads are unobstructed from any parked vehicles or other obstructions, it may be a good idea to provide signs or roadway markings. This is something that may also be required by the AHJ. Access Boxes The fire department must be able to open any doors leading into the building that may be locked. This means an access box may be required by the AHJ to give the fire department the ability to obtain keys to unlock the building during an emergency. Typically, these access boxes are located near the front entrance of the building. If these access boxes are not provided, it is likely that the first responders may need to perform some forcible entry to gain access to the building, which means doors may be damaged or destroyed. If access to the premises is secured by a locked gate, then the fire department must be provided with an approved device or system to unlock the gate. This could be done with the installation of an access box on or near the gate that contains keys to the gate, or the responding fire department can be provided with an access card or other security device. Fire Hydrants The fire department also needs access to water. This is typically done by connecting to fire hydrants located on or near the property. All fire hydrants should be maintained so that a clear space of not less than 36 in. (914 mm) is provided all the way around the hydrant. Additionally, a clear space of 60 in. (1524 mm) needs to be provided in the front of a hydrant if it has a connection that is greater than 2 1⁄2 in. (64 mm). This clear space is provided to allow the connection and routing of hose lines. If you live in a cold climate, this means that all snow must be removed from around the hydrant after each storm. Fire Department Connection Your building may also have a fire department connection. This is a hose connection or series of hose connections located on the exterior of the building that connect either to a standpipe system or to the sprinkler system. Connections to standpipe systems allow the fire department to pressurize the standpipe system in the building so they can connect their hose lines to pre-installed hose connections within the building to fight the fire. Connections to the sprinkler system allow the fire department to pump additional water into the sprinkler system increasing the amount of available water and pressure within the system to control the fire. If your building has a fire department connection it is important to maintain proper access, which is outlined in Chapter 13 of NFPA 1. Most importantly, the code requires that a minimum of 36 in. (915 mm) of clear space be maintained to ensure the fire department can not only see the fire department connections but can also make use of them. This includes making sure any tree branches or vegetation are cut back and no other obstructions, such as trash cans, are present. Fire Alarm Control Unit If your building has a fire alarm and signaling system, it is important that the fire alarm control unit (FACU)—also known as the fire alarm panel—is accessible. The FACU allows the fire department to identify which initiating devices are in alarm to help them better locate the fire. If the fire alarm system also contains an emergency voice communication system, then the fire department can also use the system to communicate with occupants in the building to give them direction. Typically, the fire alarm control unit is going to be located near a main entrance in an area such as the lobby. It is also possible that the fire alarm control unit is in a different place and a fire alarm annunciator is placed near the main entrance. This fire alarm annunciator is connected to the fire alarm control unit and allows the first responders to see all of the displays on the fire alarm control unit from a remote location. Both the fire alarm control unit and any fire alarm annunciators must be free of any obstructions and must be visible at all times. If either the fire alarm control unit or the annunciator is locked, it is important to provide the fire department with keys so they can operate the system. Emergency Command Center If your building is a high-rise, meaning that it’s a building where the floor of an occupiable story is greater than 75 ft (23 m) above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access, then it is likely that your building has an emergency command center or a fire command center. This is a space that is separated from the remainder of the building with fire resistance–rated construction and provides a space for the fire department to set up their command if there is an emergency or fire in the building. The emergency command center may contain the following: ·      The fire department communication unit ·      A telephone for fire department use ·      Schematic building plans detailing the floor plan, means of egress, fire protection systems, firefighting equipment, and fire department access ·      A work table ·      The fire alarm control unit (fire alarm panel) or annunciator ·      Elevator location indicators ·      Emergency and standby power indicators ·      Fire pump status indicators ·      Smoke control system controls Typically, these rooms are located near the main entrance of the building or off the main lobby. It is crucial that these spaces remain accessible and are free from all storage or obstructions.  Fire Pump Room A fire pump may be required in your building to provide the required water pressure for a standpipe system or an automatic sprinkler system. Fire pumps are required to be in a room that is separated from the remainder of the building with fire resistance­–rated construction. If your building has a fire pump room, it is important that this room be properly identified and free of all storage and equipment that is not essential to the operation of the fire pump. Fire pump rooms are required to be accessed from a protected interior pathway or from an exterior door, so it is also important to ensure that the protected interior pathway or the path to the exterior door of the pump room is also free and clear of obstructions. Summary As you can see, there are many more aspects to fire department access than just keeping a fire lane clear. We want to make sure that the fire department and first responders can properly identify the building as well as access all of the building equipment that they may need during their response. It is important to get into a habit of regularly checking these items as you never know when you might need the fire department or first responders at your building, and in the case of an emergency, every second counts. Interested in learning more? Take a look at this video excerpt (below) from our Fire and Life Safety Operator Online Training, which goes over items that need to be maintained to assist the fire department.
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