Published on May 1, 2019.

Ecosystem Watch

The items below, taken from recent news events, represent a survey of successes and failures of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem. For more on the Ecosystem, visit


NFPA believes that fire, life, and electrical safety are only possible when a safety ecosystem exists to create a culture of best practices and stakeholder accountability. To that end, the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem is made up of eight key elements: government responsibility; development and use of current codes; referenced standards; investment in safety; a skilled workforce; code compliance; preparedness and emergency response; and an informed public. NFPA envisions those components as cogs working together—when one cog fails, the entire system can break down. The items below, taken from recent news events, represent a survey of ecosystem successes and failures. For more on the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, visit

Government Responsibility: Eyes in the air

President Trump signs into law the Wildfire Management Technology Advancement Act, which aims to enhance safety for wildland firefighters and the public by requiring agencies to outfit firefighting crews with GPS locators and increasing the use of drones to provide realtime mapping data on active fires.


Investment in safety: Weathering the storm

Massachusetts General Hospital unveils plans to invest $1 billion in a new clinical facility built to withstand—and maintain operations during—natural disasters like heat waves, hurricanes, and floods.


Skilled workforce: Cooling catastrophe

The cause of the massive blaze that destroyed Brazil’s National Museum in September 2018 is revealed to be an improperly installed air conditioning unit that led to an electrical fire.


Preparedness and emergency response: Safety coding

IBM, along with the engineering college 42 Silicon Valley, host a one-day “hackathon” in California to promote work by coders, engineers, and others on tech projects designed to enhance wildfire preparedness and recovery.


Informed public: Smokey gets a makeover

For his 75th birthday, the US Forest Service’s Smokey Bear character is turned into an animated emoji that celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Al Roker can lend their voices to in an effort to bring wildfire prevention messaging to a younger audience.


Informed public: Infield ablaze

A high school baseball field in Connecticut is doused in gasoline and set on fire in an apparent attempt to dry the field before a game, causing an estimated $50,000 in damage. “It just wasn’t a smart move at all,” one town official noted.


Top Photograph: Getty Images