Topic: Emergency Response

Fire Protection Research Foundation to Host a Free Webinar on Immersive Learning for the Fire Service

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of NFPA®, will host its next webinar, “Fire Service Overview of Firefighter Immersive Learning Environment,” on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.   Training is a critical part of the fire service. New technological training and education applications are rapidly emerging for the fire service using immersive learning, and they offer certain unique advantages—most notably by improving health and safety. Fire service training academies and others have been using immersive learning technologies for driver training, hazardous materials training, and situational awareness. But they are being challenged by recent advances in emerging technologies (e.g., virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics), which has created a need for new training approaches and better understanding of these technologies. These innovative approaches have been proven to be effective in the training of other professionals (e.g., health care, military, construction, and aviation), and the fire service needs to develop a baseline of knowledge to manage the evolution of these new approaches. RELATED: Read a 2022 NFPA Journal feature story on the use of immersive learning for firefighter training   The Fire Protection Research Foundation, in partnership with North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD), have been jointly addressing this topic to develop a roadmap for the fire service through a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant activity. The project involved a review of existing technologies, focus group discussion with stakeholders, and a summit with fire service and technology leaders to learn about the current landscape of technology use and fire service needs and to address how immersive learning technologies could fit into the fire service training curriculum. Visit the project website,, to access the reports from this activity.   On May 31, the webinar panel will discuss the application of immersive learning in firefighter training. Panelists include Ken Willette, North American Fire Training Directors; Casey Grant, DSRAE; James P. Moore, Illinois Fire Service Institute; and Paul J. Norwood, Connecticut Fire Academy.   Webinar registration is free and required to be able to attend live; register for this webinar by clicking the direct link here or by visiting   This webinar is supported by 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  

Charging Up National Electrical Safety Month Around E-Mobility

Each May provides an opportunity to highlight how we can safely work with electricity. National Electrical Safety Month is an annual campaign spearheaded by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which aims to educate people on how to reduce the number of electrical fires, fatalities, injuries, and associated property loss. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Electrification: E-Mobility.” While there is no shortage of stories about electric vehicle (EV) and e-bike incidents in the news, the reality is that it is also a topic many Americans do not know a lot about. And with a lack of knowledge often comes a lack of safety. Many of the reported incidents likely could have been prevented had individuals been more aware of unsafe practices when using these products. This year’s National Electrical Safety Month campaign addressing e-mobility safety provides a great opportunity to spread more safety awareness in this area, and NFPA® has many resources to help accomplish this goal.   E-bikes: The news story vs the full picture   Electromobility, also known as e-mobility, uses specific technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, to provide electric propulsion of electric vehicles, e-bikes, and various other means of mobile transportation. Incidents involving e-bikes are regularly in the news and a high concentration of those happen to be in New York City, an area with a dense population and significant use of e-bikes for delivery jobs and general travel around the city. What often gets relayed as part of the newscast is a description of the incident itself and a connection to the lithium-ion batteries that propel these e-bikes. What isn’t always communicated is the human factor that can lead to many of these incidents and, more importantly, ways in which individuals can begin to safely charge and utilize e-bikes to prevent further incidents.   As of early April, New York City had reported 59 total e-bike–related fires this year, 5 of which had been fatal. To add perspective, there were 6 total fatalities due to e-bike–related fires in all of 2022. One recent incident involved two youths that perished because an e-bike was being charged near the building entrance, and when a fire involving the device erupted, the exit was blocked.   Since the onset of these tragic e-bike events, NFPA has been proactive in trying to educate e-bike users to ensure that they know the best ways to utilize these products in a manner that maintains their personal safety, as well as the safety of others. In fact, NFPA put together a webpage with safety information around e-bikes and e-scooters to help spread awareness. Watch a related video about e-bike and e-scooter fire safety from NFPA Journal®.   Here, individuals can find great resources such as answers to frequently asked questions, videos, and a downloadable e-bike safety tip sheet that is available in both English and Spanish. NFPA staff are also working to be safety advocates by spreading messaging around the lithium-ion batteries that power most e-bikes. At a recent NFPA staff event, a panel of several staff members who specialize in fire protection, electrical safety, and research discussed recent incidents and the safe use of lithium-ion batteries. Many in the audience expressed that they learned something valuable about how to be safer when charging their personal lithium-ion powered devices. NFPA technical services engineer Brian O’Connor also provided a recent interview to CBS News New York to help spread the word to the public on how e-bike lithium-ion batteries work and the safety precautions that users should take.     EVs: Building a safe charging infrastructure   Electric vehicles (EVs) are another means of e-mobility transportation that are very much in the public spotlight. There is a clear shift taking place among major automotive manufacturers worldwide from production of vehicles with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. There are also significant financial investments being made by the government to build an electrical charging infrastructure that can support the increase in the number of EVs that are projected to reach the pavement in the near future.   A primary step in bettering the EV charging infrastructure happens when it is initially built. But another key component that shouldn’t be overlooked is the continued maintenance of the charging infrastructure.  Both the initial installation and continued maintenance are areas where NFPA is able to help ensure safety. Article 625 in the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) provides requirements that will help to ensure a safe electrical vehicle charging installation. Some of the requirements revolve around a personal protection system, properly sizing branch circuits that power the EV charger, and utilizing ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection for receptacles that power EV chargers.     RELATED: NFPA also has resources to help firefighters train for responding to incidents involving electric vehicles. Learn more at   From a maintenance standpoint, Chapter 33 of NFPA 70B, Standard for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, addresses electric vehicle charging systems. Within this chapter, users can find information on the necessary frequency and documentation of maintenance and the procedures that should be taken when maintenance is performed. With NFPA 70B changing from a recommended practice to a standard in January of 2023, governments and municipalities now have the ability to enforce the maintenance requirements of NFPA 70B regarding the electrical charging infrastructure being installed within their particular areas. With the high level of use that EV chargers will see on a daily basis, continued maintenance will be paramount to ensuring that EV chargers remain safe for consumers to use.   Embracing the electric future   Since the beginning of human history, there has been a constant development of new technologies that drive our means of travel—for example, shoes (7th millennium BC), the domestication of the horse and invention of the wheel (3500 BC), the bicycle (1816), and the Ford Model T automobile (1908). These were all significant developments in means of travel that we still use today.   Although electric vehicles are at the forefront of developing travel technologies today, using electricity for powering means of transportation actually dates back to the early 19th century, when using electricity to power locomotives and boats was being explored. Continued technological advancements over time, such as the development of lithium-ion batteries, has provided an opportunity to explore new transportation options within the e-mobility realm. While the advancements in the technologies used for transportation have a wide variance over time, one commonality is that, in all applications of those technologies, there was a learning curve that had to be overcome to utilize the new technology safely.   “ We are still learning how to use e-mobility products like e-bikes and EVs safely. ... It is important that we all continue to gain knowledge around how to safely use them and then continue to share that knowledge with others.     It is hard to imagine that it took very long after the wheel was invented to determine it was a bad idea to leave your foot under it while it was rolling. This may sound like a silly example because it seems just common sense to us nowadays, but someone had to learn the danger from trial and error and then share their findings with others so that they didn’t make the same mistake. In that same regard, we are still learning how to use e-mobility products like e-bikes and EVs safely.   The reality is we often fear most that which we do not understand. As we work through determining how best to incorporate these e-mobility products into our everyday lives, it is important that we all continue to gain knowledge around how to safely use them and then continue to share that knowledge with others. National Electrical Safety Month is a great opportunity for all of us to start doing just that.          For quick tips on how to use e-mobility devices more safely, please consider downloading the NFPA E-bike and E-scooter Safety tip sheet in English or Spanish, as well as our Lithium-Ion Battery Safety sheet.  

Rebuilt North Dakota Rural Fire Station Now Protected with Fire Sprinklers

As we all know, home fires don’t pick and choose where they strike. They can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime—even firefighters.   Fire stations are a home away from home for firefighters, often with cooking and sleeping quarters. Even though firefighters are the station “residents,” when a fire station doesn’t have fire sprinklers installed and a fire strikes, the damage can be significant, especially when the firefighters are out on a call.   That’s precisely what happened to the Glenburn Fire Department in north central North Dakota on March 6, 2021, when their own fire station burned down. The Glenburn Rural Fire Protection District covers a large jurisdiction, including two small cities and numerous farms and ranches.   The station was unstaffed and by the time firefighters got the call it was too late―most everything had been destroyed. An investigation determined the fire was caused by a furnace failure. Fortunately, no lives were lost, and no one was injured in that fire.   BUILT BACK BETTER   Today, the station has been rebuilt and is protected with installed fire sprinklers. Glenburn Fire Chief Mike Overton said it has been a long two years, but now the fire department is up and functioning. He and department personnel are using their experience to raise awareness about fire dangers and the benefits of fire sprinklers.   In fact, the Glenburn Fire Department received a $500 stipend from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), which it will use to hold an educational open house in its new, sprinklered station during Home Fire Sprinkler Week 2023 (May 14–20). In addition to sharing information on home sprinklers, the open house will feature HFSC’s 3D virtual reality and other videos, information on smoke alarms, and more.   One of the key messages to be reinforced is that today’s home fires burn faster and hotter than in the 60s and 70s. Back then, residents had up to 17 minutes to escape a home fire. Now, with synthetic furnishings, lightweight building materials, and open designs, that window has closed to just 2 minutes or less. Fortunately, sprinklers activate quickly, controlling and often extinguishing the fire before the fire department arrives.   Chief Overton says members of the community will learn that having both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers cuts the risk of death in a home fire by 82 percent compared to having neither. He also plans to underscore that sprinklers are green, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 98 percent, fire damage by up to 97 percent, and water usage by as much as 91 percent.   When it comes to educating our communities about the dangers of home fires, seeing really is believing. Chief Overton understands this, and the Glenburn open house will go a long way toward delivering the vital messages through meaningful and memorable presentations to the community. WHAT CAN YOUR COMMUNITY DO?   Your community needs these lifesaving messages, too. A live demonstration or a side-by-side virtual reality video will reveal how quickly a home fire spreads without sprinklers, versus how quickly it’s controlled with installed sprinklers. And as Chief Overton is doing with his station, consider sharing personal stories you may have about fire sprinklers, not just for homeowners, but for firefighters as well.   You can tap into NFPA’s free resources, including safety tip sheets, you can download and share. And for home fire sprinkler content, use HFSC’s free turnkey tools that make it easy for you to educate your target audiences. You can also create a space on your website about the value of building new homes with fire sprinklers. Upload videos and other content. Post cards to your social media accounts. Or simply link to (HFSC’s website is free of advertising and all content is free to you).   No matter how you plan your outreach activities, NFPA and HFSC are here to support your efforts. We look forward to hearing about your successes.

NFPA releases Standards Council decision on NFPA 1582 addressing possible legal, funding, and safety risks to fire departments

Today, NFPA released the NFPA Standards Council appeal decision on Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) 1689, upholding the appeal and overturning the Technical Committee on Emergency Responders Occupational Health (TC) ballot results - issuing TIA 1689 on the 2022 edition of NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Medical Program for Fire Departments. TIA’s are amendments to an NFPA standard outside of the ordinary revision cycle of a standard to address something needing immediate action. TIAs are tentative because the changes have not been processed through the entire standards-making procedures and is interim because it is effective only between editions of the standard. TIAs are automatically considered for the next edition of the standard; as such, it is subject to all of the procedures of the standards-making process. Regular readers of this blog will recall that whenever I write about the NFPA standards development process, I make clear that the NFPA Standards Council accords great respect and deference to the work of the technical committees through the NFPA standards development process. The NFPA Standards Council, an appeals body, will only overturn the results of the technical process where there is a clear and substantial basis for doing so. Their decision on TIA No. 1689, which revises NFPA 1582, presents such basis, to address potentially significant legal and federal funding risks to fire departments throughout the country and states: “This is an untenable position for fire departments, candidates and members; and to the extent NFPA 1582 is potentially used as an instrument of discrimination, the Council is compelled to take action and issue the TIA that rectifies this immediate concern.”  Background on NFPA 1582 NFPA 1582 is a standard that provides information and guidance for physicians and other health care providers responsible for fire department occupational medical programs. The medical requirements and evaluation are intended to ensure that candidates and current members are medically capable of performing their required duties and will reduce the risk of occupational injuries and illnesses. The 2022 edition of NFPA 1582 has different medical requirements for candidates (those who want to join a fire department or members looking to join a new department) and members (current active fire fighters). Significantly, there are a number of different health conditions (Category A Medical Conditions) which are applicable only to candidates and are deemed to preclude a person from getting a job as a firefighter.  The technical committee has received Public Input and Public Comments about this issue for more than 10 years that articulated concerns that such disparate treatment of candidates and members violates disability anti-discrimination laws, unfairly impacts a person applying to become a member of a fire department, and puts Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) at risk of using a discriminatory standard.  TIA 1689 was submitted in November of 2022, creating essentially a single set of medical requirements that are equally applicable to both members and candidates and track closely to the current requirements for incumbents. After balloting of the technical committee, TIA 1689 failed to receive the required votes to pass the ballot. Appeals were filed with Standards Council by Leslie Saucedo Baskir, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Office of Equal Rights, Pamela Williams, Grant Programs/FEMA, and Stan Haimes, M.D. University of Central Florida College of Medicine. NFPA Standards Council Decision The NFPA Standards Council decided to uphold the appeals requesting that the Council issue TIA No. 1689, which seeks to revise various paragraphs and combine several chapters of the standard to address significant concerns that it violates the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). The Council reviewed the entire record concerning this matter and considered all the arguments put forth in this appeal. In the view of the Council, this appeal presents a clear and substantial basis upon which to overturn the results yielded by the NFPA standards development process. The decision included these key points: The record is replete with documentation and comments reflecting concern that NFPA 1582 violates civil rights laws, exposes AHJs to risk by using a potentially discriminatory standard, and unfairly affects people applying for a firefighter job or looking to apply for a firefighter job in a new department. At the hearing, FEMA’s Director of the Office of Equal Rights stated that if NFPA 1582 is not amended to comply with civil rights law, it would “take action to address the offending standard outside of the NFPA standards process” and take action that may include “prohibiting physicals that adhere to NFPA 1582”, consider “compliance reviews of organizations that have received funds regarding their use of physical for hiring or recruitment of grant funded positions”, and noted that “[d]isallowing reimbursement of NFPA 1582 physicals for fire departments with existing grant awards…will add additional financial burden to many already finically-strapped departments…” The Council believes this is an untenable position for fire departments, candidates, and members; and to the extent NFPA 1582 is potentially used as an instrument of discrimination, the Council is compelled to act and issue the TIA that rectifies this immediate concern. At the hearing, the Council heard from opponents to this appeal that the Technical Committee continues to work on a new TIA that is largely the same as TIA 1689, but with different aerobic capacity requirements.  In the meantime, the Council encourages the Committee to continue its work. The full decision can be found here.

Addressing the True Safety Needs of Your Community Is Key to Reducing Its Leading Risks

At a CRR Kitchen Table event hosted by NFPA® earlier this month, the Gates Fire Department (New York) shared how conducting a community risk assessment (CRA) using CRAIG 1300®, the digital tool that helps capture and analyze community data, helped them identify the leading safety risks within their community and create a plan for addressing them. Alan Bubel, fire chief of the Gates Fire Department (GFD), said that in previous years he spent more time looking at trends across the country, but many of those trends didn’t truly speak to the needs and circumstances of his community. By changing their focus and looking at the real risks and threats, Bubel and his colleagues have been better able to respond to those issues and needs, particularly as demographics have changed over the past 20 years and more residents are at higher risk to fire. “If we don’t know what our community’s needs are, we aren’t going to be able to meet them,” said Bubel. Kalli Herouvis, CRR specialist for GFD, and Laurie Schwenzer, assistant CRR specialist for GFD, also shared their approach to implementing an effective CRR strategy, noting that they look at CRR from both an educational and operational standpoint. As the needs and risks are changing—and the pace of that change is getting faster—the data provided by CRAIG 1300 helps identify those needs and effectively address them. Herouvis reinforced that understanding the people plays a key role in their efforts. “Demographics, the occupancies within the community, economics—they’re are all factors in identifying the risks within the community,” she said. The Gates Fire Department also said that CRAIG 1300 has been an effective tool for substantiating the need for more staffing and services, as the tool effectively tracks the increased number of calls they receive and the reasons for those calls. Consequently, the Gates Fire Department has been able to increase its staffing and, in turn, have been more effective in providing services to the community. The upcoming KT event on Wednesday, March 29, will feature Jason Orellanas from the Cape Coral Fire Department (Florida), who will talk about how the data from his Community Risk Assessment helps not only to guide prevention efforts, but also how it was a valuable resource in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Email to register!

NFPA 610 Is Ready to Roll for the 2023 US Rally Racing Season

The 2023 US rally racing season opened on February 10 with Sno*Drift Rally 2023, a two-day stage rally that takes place in Montmorency County, Michigan. Sanctioned by the American Rally Association (ARA), this high-performance racing event pits roughly 50 two- and four-wheel-drive, road-legal cars against each other in a one-at-a-time race against the clock over approximately 120 miles of snow- and ice-covered forest roads. To get a sense of what this event is all about, you can check out the video below. As you can see, rally racing is markedly different from track racing, and three important characteristics introduce special challenges for emergency planning, training, personnel, and equipment.   Multiple jurisdictions, difficult terrain, and other challenges One issue to keep in mind is the involvement of multiple jurisdictions. Because of the overall size of rally racing events, they can take place over vast areas. Rather than driving around one continuous course, such as a racetrack, rally racers are typically timed over a series of shorter courses, also known as segments. At the completion of each segment, the team travels to the next segment over public or private roads, obeying all local laws. The concurrent use of multiple locations across a vast area means the event team might need to coordinate with multiple municipal, county, or state emergency response units that have jurisdiction in different parts of the event area. In some cases, the communications infrastructure—especially among different jurisdictions or across great distances—can be varied or unreliable. Excessive emergency response times and travel distances can be a significant issue as well. The terrain and locations of the events can also be a challenge to safety professionals. Rally racing can involve multiple competition area surfaces or topographies and might require responders and equipment to travel over poor surface conditions to reach an emergency incident. To complicate matters, rally racing events typically lack fixed venue facilities and features, such as medical, security, response personnel, and track barriers, limiting the availability of staging areas and permitting spectators to be present under limited access or control. Special environmental concerns, such as spill cleanup, wildfire ignition risk, or impact on wildlife, might need to be considered as well. Finally, lack of standardized training can be a problem. Since rallying is a relatively new racing format, the community is still developing its approach to safety, which means that training is often performed at the regional level. As the size and popularity of the sport continues to grow, safety teams must keep pace by including individuals with increasingly diverse training, which can result in miscommunications and other problems when an emergency occurs. In addition, the use of multiple types of race vehicles reduces familiarity with the vehicles, which can complicate extraction procedures.   How can NFPA® help? NFPA 610, Guide for Emergency and Safety Operations at Motorsports Venues, covers the planning, training, personnel, equipment, and facilities for emergency and safety operations at all types of land-based motorsports events. Although the document has always included rally racing within its scope, the content of the guide has historically been primarily focused on track racing at motorsports venues with fixed facilities. But in the 2024 edition of NFPA 610, which was issued in October 2022, the technical committee introduced several changes aimed at making the guide more relevant to the special challenges associated with rally racing and other nontraditional events. One change is the use of terminology that is more broadly applicable to different types of motorsports events. For example, “competition area” is used instead of “track,” and “paddock area” was changed to “paddock or service area.” Other improvements include new guidance on working across jurisdictional boundaries and guidance on selecting appropriate communications technologies for cross-jurisdictional compatibility and long-distance communications. These changes add a new layer to the scalability and customizability of NFPA 610, helping solidify its position as the standard for safety operations at motorsports events of all types and sizes. If you are interested in learning more about NFPA 610 or in getting involved in the development of the standard, visit The 2024 edition is also included with your digital subscription to NFPA LiNK®; or, a print version of the guide can be purchased from the NFPA catalog.
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