NFPA Today

Changes to the NEC book

NFPA and Mike Holt Enterprises Collaborate to Publish 2023 NEC Changes Book Due Out This Fall

It probably comes as no surprise when we hear people say our world has become increasingly complex with regard to all things electrical. Today, NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code (NEC®) remains the most widely used code in the U.S. and is applied extensively across the globe to safeguard people and property from electrical hazards. It is why the NEC remains the essential resource to ensure all those who work in this field have the latest safety information to address existing and emerging issues. To this end, this year marks the first time that NFPA and Mike Holt Enterprises are partnering together to publish a book explaining the key updates to the next edition of the NEC. The book, Mike Holt’s Illustrated Guide to Changes to the National Electrical Code, 2023 edition, provides colorful graphic depictions of revisions to the NEC to clarify how to apply requirements accurately and explanatory language of how the changes impact electrical industry professionals on the job. It also offers reference information to help provide a deeper understanding of changes and the rationale behind them. NFPA and Mike Holt Enterprises are excited to be working together to advance safety and bring to life this information for those who rely on the NEC to do their jobs. It offers a great opportunity to unite NFPA, the source of the code, and Mike Holt, who is highly recognized for his expertise on the NEC, having devoted his career to understanding the code and sharing his knowledge with others. If you’re a professional electrician, electrical contractor, engineer, or inspector, this book is a valuable resource for understanding the NEC. The book will be available this fall through both Mike Holt Enterprises and NFPA. To pre-order the 2023 NEC, visit the NFPA catalog page.  Stay tuned for more information and visit our electrical solutions page for updates on the book and product offerings. For additional information, read the full news release.

Do all buildings have to comply with the latest code?

When constructing a new building it is imperative architects, engineers, contractors, and owners follow the most current codes and standards to provide what is considered the current minimum level of safety for a building. This minimum level of safety is established most often by consensus codes and standards which have been adopted by the jurisdiction where the building is being constructed. These codes and standards are constantly evolving, adapting to new technology and addressing gaps in safety. But what about existing buildings? Do they need to be brought up to the adopted code? The answer is often complicated and depends on the local codes in place as well as the type of occupancy. An example of this complexity occurs when you examine requirements for existing buildings in NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code as compared to NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. Both codes define an existing building as “A building erected or officially authorized prior to the effective date of the adoption of this edition of the Code by the agency or jurisdiction” however, the two codes treat them very differently. Looking in Chapter 1 of both codes the scope and purpose statements provide direction as to where codes apply and their overall intent. NFPA 5000 would not apply to existing buildings unless they undergo a change in use, some level of building rehabilitation, an addition or if the building is relocated or damaged. NFPA 101 has no such clause and applies to both new and existing buildings. Thus, where NFPA 5000 focuses on the design and construction of new buildings, NFPA 101 applies to both new and existing buildings with a focus on safety during the entire lifecycle of the building not just the initial design and construction. Under NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, buildings which have “been officially authorized” meaning they were designed and permitted in accordance with earlier editions of the building code, can remain in their original state. If they undergo the items mentioned earlier, they would be required to comply with the most current version of the building code. For example, the 2021 edition of NFPA 5000 requires all newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings to be protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system. This was first introduced in the 2006 edition; and earlier editions did not contain this requirement.  In areas were NFPA 5000 is adopted, existing homes authorized for use prior to the adoption of the 2006 edition are not required to be retrofitted with automatic fire sprinkler systems. This concept of “officially authorized” or existing buildings, is one of the reasons we continue to see fires with a significant number of injuries and deaths. It’s not that the current level of safety expected in new buildings isn’t enough, it’s that the vast majority of the buildings in the U.S. and many other countries around the world were constructed under what was considered the minimum level of safety at the time.  That level of safety has evolved but requiring all buildings to be retroactively improved to meet the current codes and standards may be costly and could impose a significant hardship on building owners. However, there are times where the risk will outweigh cost, for example, anywhere the 2021 edition of NFPA 101 has been adopted. In these jurisdictions, an automatic fire sprinkler system is required in all nursing homes, both new and existing, with very few exceptions. The code development process determined the risk to the occupants of these facilities is significant enough that providing automatic fire sprinklers in nursing home facilities is required to meet what is now considered the minimum level of safety for both new and existing buildings. As you can see, the answer to the question of whether an existing building must be improved to meet what is now considered the minimum level of safety can be found in that jurisdictions adopted code. The adopted code is often a suite of different codes and standards, which may include, building, fire, and life safety codes. It is important that these codes work together to set the minimum level of safety for all buildings in the jurisdiction. For more information on the importance of how code development and adoption improve safety while balancing risk check out the NFPA Fire And Life Safety Ecosystem.

Fire Break

A facilitator listening to a group

Outthink Wildfire summit works to build a bridge between barriers to wildfire mitigation and strategies to overcome them

As the past several years have shown, the mounting wildfire crisis in the U.S. presents a significant danger to people, homes, and communities, particularly those in wildfire urban interface (WUI) settings. While we know what’s needed to measurable reduce these risks, putting them into action requires buy-in and support from individual property-owners, communities, and policymakers at each level of government. Therein lies the challenge. Motivating these audiences to do their part isn’t always easy. But to truly increase safety from wildfire, we need to identify viable pathways to better combat the growing wildfire problem and put those measures into action. As a next step toward that end, NFPA hosting its first Outthink Wildfire™ summit last week in Sacramento, CA. NFPA launched Outthink Wildfire last year as a major policy initiative to stem the tide of wildfire-caused human and property losses through significant changes at all levels of government. Outthink Wildfire is about how we build, where we build, and bringing policymakers, fire service and the public together to solve the problem. The summit focused on developing a set of recommendations for the built environment, primarily tackling ways to get existing homes better protected from wildfire. Representatives from nearly 40 organizations were invited to share their input, insights, and recommendations, and to help create a template for effectively reducing wildfire risks in WUI communities. While space for this event was limited, it serves as a launchpad for many more individuals and organizations to participate going forward so that we can collectively move the needle on wildfire mitigation. Outthink Wildfire participants (in alphabetical order) American Property Casualty Insurance Association Brian Meacham Associates Build Strong America CAL FIRE California Association of REALTORS® California Building Industry Association California Building Standards Commission California Fire Safe Council California Fire Science Consortium/Cal Poly San Luis Obispo California Governor's Office City of Austin (TX) Fire Department Colorado Div. of Fire Prevention & Control Colorado Wildfire Partners Desert Research Institute Fire Marshals Association of Colorado U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) Insurance Information Institute International Code Council Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. National Association of State Fire Marshals National Disability Rights Network National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) National Volunteer Fire Council National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) NorCal Fire Prevention Officers Oregon Building Codes Division, Dept Consumer & Business Svcs Oregon Fire Marshals Association Oregon State Fire Marshals Office Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Foundation Sonoma County (CA) Fire Prevention & Hazardous Materials Div. Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment U.S. Fire Administration UL Fire Safety Research Institute USDA Forest Service Western Fire Chiefs Association Wildland Fire Leadership Council A full report on the summit and next steps will be released in the coming months. In the meantime, a tremendous thank you to the 50-plus representatives who attended the summit this week. The enthusiasm and commitment displayed reinforces my hope and belief that we will truly be able to meet the ultimate Outthink Wildfire goal of eliminating wildfire hazards in 30 years. I also look forward to hearing from all the wildfire safety advocates and officials who were not at the summit but would like to get actively involved in the Outthink Wildfire initiative. It takes buy-in and engagement from all of us to make holistic, impactful wildfire mitigation a reality.
Hands holding a house

Spring in to action: financial preparedness for wildfire

As we work through the last month of spring, NFPA wants to make sure you are ready for wildfires.  There are many actions when it comes to preparation ahead of a wildfire, one important step that often gets overlooked is financial preparedness. Homeowners and renters need to have property insurance in place to help recover from a wildfire or other disaster. Recent wildfire losses are highlighting a real problem of underinsurance. According to a posting on, "Most homes are underinsured. Nationwide estimates that about two-thirds of American homes are underinsured. Some homes are underinsured by at least 60 percent and the average is about 22 percent. CoreLogic estimates that three out of five American homes are underinsured by an average of 20 percent." This means that when a loss from wildfire or other disaster occurs, much of the repair or rebuild cost will fall on the homeowner as an out-of-pocket expense. To ensure your coverage is update to-date, our friends at American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) recommend doing the following each year: Update your policy after remodels or home improvements. Ask if your policy has coverages for three key things to prevent underinsurance: Extended replacement cost; Building code upgrade coverage; and Annual inflation adjustment. Be sure your policy reflects the correct square footage, number of bedrooms / bathrooms and doors and windows. Make sure your policy reflects your home’s finishes like granite countertops or hardwood floors. Renters need property insurance too. Consider bundling renters’ insurance with your auto coverage. Add comprehensive coverage to your auto policy to protect car in a wildfire Another important step to determine if you have enough coverage to replace your possessions is to create a home inventory. This task may seem daunting, especially if you've been in your home for many years, but it can be manageable. Some simple steps from the Insurance Information Institute include: Pick an easy spot to start, an area that is contained such as a small kitchen appliance cabinet or sporting equipment closet List recent purchases Include basic information – where you bought it, make and model, what you paid County clothing by general category Record serial numbers found on major appliances and electronic equipment Check coverage on big ticket items Don't forget off-site items Keep proof of value – sales receipts, purchase contracts, appraisals Don't get overwhelmed – It's better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all When creating your home inventory, embrace technology! Take pictures or videos, back them up digitally. There also many apps available to help organize and store your records. The current wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico remind us that wildfires can occur any time of year when the conditions allow.  Start your financial preparedness now – visit APCIA to download the How to Update Your Insurance and How to Create a Home Inventory tip sheets to guide your annual insurance review.  Share with your friends and family so they can be ready too!

Safety Source

Harbor from Fort Mackinac

4 Tips to Help Prevent Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) Over Memorial Day Weekend and Throughout the Summer Months

Memorial Day provides us all with a time to reflect on the fallen heroes that have sacrificed their own lives, so we can have the many freedoms they provided us. Here in Michigan, and likely in many other states, Memorial Day is seen as the “Gateway to Summer.” Somewhat of a “rite of passage” into warm weather, BBQs, and vacations, while spending time with those we care most about. Our family makes it a point to visit Mackinac (pronounced ma-kuh-naa) Island at least once every summer. Mackinac Island is home to Fort Mackinac, established during the American Revolution by the British in 1780 and overtaken by American forces in 1796. The picture shown above depicts the view from elevated Fort Mackinac, looking down onto the Mackinac Island harbor. Every summer when our ferry docks at the island, I look up at Fort Mackinac and think about how grateful I am to have this moment with my family. How grateful I am to all Americans who gave their own lives to help make our individual moments possible. For our trip to the island a couple summers ago, we decided to venture outside our normal day trip and make it an overnight trip. After a long day of sightseeing, after dinner, mom and dad were ready to kick their feet up and relax but the kids, still full of energy that we wish we had, had other ideas. After some intense negotiating, we agreed that the parents would be able to wind down on the porch just outside our room, while watching the kids spend time in the oversized, built-in 25-person hot tub that was just steps away from our room. That same hot tub was just several steps away from the harbor waters. As my wife and I were just getting settled into relaxation mode, I heard it – SPLASH!!! Looking up, I saw three of our four children standing inches from the harbor water, appearing ready to jump in themselves, and the head of our eldest child bobbing in the water. Deciding the tub waters were too hot for them, the kids decided to jump into the harbor waters to cool off. They were having an absolute blast! So, why did I feel like I had just been punched in the gut? “GET OUT!!!”, I yelled, loud enough that I was sure I had awoken the dead from the island. My fatherly instincts had kicked in. Our kids are all great swimmers, so that wasn’t my concern. The issue was Electric Shock Drowning, also known as ESD, that I have learned about since becoming an employee at NFPA.   It is hard for me to fathom that, as a master electrician with over 30 years’ experience working in a state that has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world, I had never even heard of ESD, before joining NFPA just a few months prior. To be honest, it irked me that I spent so long working in the electrical industry and still did not have the information to help protect my family from this “silent killer”; to protect my family from the same heartache that Lucas Ritz’s family has felt for years, as a result of losing him to ESD. Initially, I learned that ESD is somewhat different from how we typically view electrical hazards, like shock and arc flash. Yes, it is shock related as the title suggests, but it isn’t the direct electric shock that kills. ESD is typically a low-level AC current, induced into the water by defective marina, or boat, electrical systems that passes through the body causing muscular paralysis which renders the victim unable to swim, thereby causing drowning. In many cases, victims don’t even feel the electrical current when they enter the water to swim. Freshwater is particularly susceptible to ESD incidents because the human body is much more conductive than the water itself, permitting more current to flow through the body in freshwater versus saltwater. Once I learned a little about ESD, I longed to know more so I could help continue to spread the message that had somehow evaded me for so long. In doing so, maybe I could help someone else avoid the heartache of losing a loved one to ESD. As I looked for more information, I found that the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association website was a great resource to help me understand more about what ESD is and how it can be prevented. To date, some of the most helpful tips I have found around preventing ESD are: Don’t swim in marina waters. While there are lots of things that can happen in marina waters that could cause an ESD incident, there is one thing that will prevent an ESD in every potential instance – not swimming in marina waters. If you don’t enter the water, the risk of an ESD incident drops to zero. Don’t jump in to help others. When you see someone who appears to be drowning, it is human nature to immediately help. As hard as it is – don’t! While witnessing a potential ESD taking place, jumping in may just add an additional victim. There have been many cases of ESD where it has left multiple victims for this exact reason, including one instance in Arizona two years ago that killed two brothers. If you see what you believe to be an ESD taking place: call 911, turn off power, throw a life ring, and move the person to safety using a nonconductive pole or object. Swim away from the tingle. If someone is in the water and begins to feel a tingle, they should immediately swim away from where they feel the tingle until it is no longer felt. Instruct them to avoid any metal items, such as ladders that they might otherwise try to use to get out of the water. Spread the word about ESD. Being an electrician for over 30 years and spending a lot of our family time on the water, I should have known about ESD well before my employment at NFPA. Knowing the tragedy that ESD can cause, it leaves me wondering how many others are unaware. To eliminate ESD altogether, it is crucial that every one of us spread the word about ESD and encourage those around us not to take a chance by swimming in marina waters. When you mix a hot summer day with nearby cool water, it is only natural for people to want to jump in. That’s all our kids were doing on that Memorial Day weekend a couple years ago. We all learned something that day. As they watched the video that I showed them telling the story of Lucas Ritz, the kids learned about ESD and why dad yelled at them to get out of the water  – because I loved and cared about them. Personally, I learned just how important it is raise awareness of the hazards associated with ESD. Ultimately, a day that could have ended in tragedy, resulted in an understanding of the dangers around ESD and that swimming in marinas just isn’t safe. Considering all that is at stake, we could sure use more help raising awareness of ESD. Won’t you join us? For more information on Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) and related resources like videos and tip sheets to share, please visit the NFPA “Electrical Safety Around Water” webpage.

National Electrical Safety Month works to keep people safe from electrical hazards, including those associated with “smart” technologies

As National Electrical Safety Month continues this May, it’s worth taking a moment, it’s worth taking a moment to be grateful for all the ways electricity keeps our daily lives buzzing and humming as we expect and assume it will. And because we rely on electricity every day, most often without incident, we tend to forget that electricity does pose real risks. In fact, people are killed or injured by electrical hazards each year, but many people aren’t aware of these dangers. Sponsored by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), National Electrical Safety Month works to raises awareness around potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical fire safety. This May’s theme, “Connected to Safety,” focuses on emerging technologies that make our homes safe and efficient and ways to use them safely - from understanding how to charge electrical vehicles at home and use household electrical safety devices to working safely with or around solar panels and temporary power. During National Electrical Safety Month, households are encouraged to take these simple steps to reduce risk: Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) shut off electricity when a dangerous condition occurs. Consider having them installed in your home. Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of shock. GFCIs shut off an electrical circuit when it becomes a shock hazard. They should be installed inside the home in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and basements. All outdoor receptacles should be GFCI protected. Test AFCIs and GFCIs once a month according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You do not need a flame to start a fire. Fires can start when heat builds up near things that burn. This can happen when a hot light bulb is near things that burn, such as cloth or paper, or a cord has been placed under a carpet.  In addition, residents should have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician, including scheduling electrical inspections when buying or remodeling a home. Even during this time of social distancing, electricians are still working and considered essential businesses in every state. At the NFPA C&E this June, a special panel presentation on Ground Fault Circuit (GFCI) Protection will be on Monday morning at 8:00am, reviewing the role GFCI has played in electrical safety.  ESFI has offers great resources on its landing page, while the NFPA electrical safety webpage provides tips and information as well, including infographics, fact sheets, videos, and podcasts related to electrical fire safety. In the weeks ahead, please use and share information about National Electrical Safety Month and its electrical safety messages when and where possible.

Fire Sprinkler Initiative

A family sitting on a bed

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