Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on March 1, 2018.



NFPA, others laud incentives for fire protection systems in federal tax act

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress late last year has drawn praise from organizations like NFPA, the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), and the National Fire Sprinkler Association because it offers significant incentives for fire sprinkler installation and other fire protection systems.

“Our research time and again stresses the life-saving importance of fire sprinkler protection,” said NFPA President Jim Pauley. “The financial incentives allowed by this act will undoubtedly lead to safer establishments throughout the U.S.” Similarly, ASFA President Frank Mortl III said the incentives “will undoubtedly save the lives of countless American workers and families.”

Under the new act, small businesses can expense building improvement purchases for fire protection systems, including fire sprinkler retrofits, up to $1 million per year. Sprinkler installations in commercial and other large buildings can be fully expensed until 2022, after which the amount allowed to be expensed gradually decreases.

Study highlights effects of multiple traumatic events on firefighters

A single traumatic event like the terrorist attacks of September 11 can weigh heavy on a firefighter’s psyche, but it’s more common for firefighters to experience a negative mental health impact from a series of traumatic events common to their jobs, according to a new study from the U.S. Fire Administration.

“Previous studies have looked at firefighter mental health challenges in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which relies on assessment instruments attuned to one particular traumatic event,” an article about the study says. “Firefighters experience ‘secondary trauma’ or ‘compassion fatigue’ from repeated exposure to trauma. They may not be diagnosed with PTSD, but clearly suffer from symptoms such as sleep disorders, avoidance behaviors, and feelings of helplessness that are associated with PTSD.” Symptoms of repeated exposure trauma, or RET, also include desensitization, irritability, cynicism, and intrusive flashbacks, according to the article.

The study recommends future research to explore how firefighters and other first responders are coping with the effects of RET. Read more on FEMA's website.

NFPA releases risk assessment tool for buildings with combustible exterior walls

In February, NFPA released an online tool for stakeholders to determine if buildings they are responsible for are at risk for fires involving combustible exterior wall materials such as foam insulation or metal cladding that also contains plastic.

Many buildings around the world are believed to be covered in combustible materials, an issue NFPA Journal examined in the September/October 2017 feature article “London Calling.” Fires involving combustible exterior wall materials have been observed in cities including Dubai, Melbourne, and London.

With funding from NFPA, global engineering firm Arup developed the technical basis for the tool—called the Exterior Facade Fire Evaluation Comparison Tool, or EFFECT™—that prompts users to input information about not only a building’s exterior wall materials, but also its height and configuration, fire protection equipment such as sprinklers, emergency notification system, escape routes, and more to determine its risk level. The tool is designed for building owners, facility managers, authorities having jurisdiction, and others.

Find the tool and other NFPA resources on combustible exterior wall materials online.

ANGELO VERZONI is staff writer for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: iStockPhoto