Topic: Electrical

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NFPA 1: Referencing NFPA 72 and fire alarm requirements in NFPA 1, #FireCodeFridays (Monday edition)

Last week I spent Monday through Wednesday attending NFPA's 3 day classroom training on NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code in Orlando, FL (followed by a few days of vacation with my family...when in Orlando, right?)  Attending this training has provided me with a stronger foundation and connection with other documents that I work with such as NFPA 1, NFPA 80, NFPA 101, and some additional training initiatives that I will be involved with next year as NFPA rolls out some newer offerings! NFPA 72 is referenced throughout NFPA 1, Fire Code. Section 13.7 of the Code is the main section for detection, alarm, and communication systems.  It mandates that where building fire alarm systems or automatic fire detectors are required by other sections of NFPA 1 that they be provided and installed in accordance with NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, 72 and Section 13.7.  Codes such as NFPA 1 and NFPA 101 will tell the user whether or not a fire alarm system is required; how it must be initiated, and whether or not occupant and emergency responder notification is required; that is not the role of NFPA 72.  NFPA 72, however, provides the installation, inspection, testing, and maintenance criteria for the required system.  Section 13.7 provides comprehensive provisions, extracted from both NFPA 72 as well as NFPA 101.  The NFPA 101 provisions cover the basic functions of a complete fire alarm system, including fire detection, alarm, and communications. The provisions extracted from NFPA 101 are also occupancy based (see Section 13.7.2.)  Certain occupancies might not be required to have a fire alarm system at all. In industrial and storage occupancies, for example, the number of occupants in the facility or the hazard classification of the building's contents determines whether an alarm system is required. In small mercantile and business occupancies, there are usually enough people present (at least during a part of the day) to discover an incipient fire. For these occupancies, the Code imposes less rigid requirements for fire alarm systems than it does for certain other occupancies. Conversely, for health care occupancies, the provisions for fire alarm systems are quite detailed with respect to notification and emergency functions, such as the automatic closure of smoke barrier doors. The NFPA 72 provisions extracted into NFPA 1, found primarily in Section 13.7.3, address the following technical provisions: Nonrequired coverage (instances where a facility installs a detection system to meet certain performance goals or to address a particular hazard or need.) Smoke alarm and smoke detector installation location Alarm annunciation, annunciation access and location, and annunciation zoning Supervisory and trouble annunciation Fire alarm system equipment Documentation Manually actuated alarm-initiating devices Installation of automatic fire detectors (including smoke, heat, and duct detectors) which addresses protection of equipment, location, specific installation criteria by detector type, protection during construction NFPA 72 is a fundamental fire protection document.  Even though much of Section 13.7 is extracted from NFPA 72, users should always consult the source document for the full details.  Remembering the scope of NFPA 1, the provisions included in the document help aid the enforcer/inspector with fire alarm provisions they may need to know while enforcing the Code.  It is the basics (when a system is required, installation criteria, equipment provisions, etc.)  NFPA 72 should also be consulted for full details regarding inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire alarm systems. Chapter 14 of NFPA 72 will provide the detailed requirements for ITM.

9 ways to know that you're a holiday decorating disaster

   1) Your cat lets you know he's delighted you've finally bought some great toys!    Keep pets and children at least three feet away from burning candles and  electrical cords to prevent burns and electrical fires.      2) That ever-growing pile of fallen pine needles on the floor is receiving  more comments than the decorations for your Christmas tree.    A dry tree in your home is a fire danger. Think of it as a huge pile of kindling in  your home. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.      3) You've spent more time trying to free yourself out of the tangled lights  than actually decorating the tree.    Check the manufacturer's instructions to find out how many lights can be  connected to prevent electric shock and fire.      4) You know it's bad to put flammable material near a fire, but you can't  help yourself. These stockings just look so darn cute and festive!        Keep anything that can burn away from a heat source, despite how awesome  it looks. Flameless candles are also a great alternative to real ones when  decorating.      5) Your house is a holiday tourist attraction and you couldn't be prouder.        An overloaded electrical outlet is a major fire hazard. Plug strings of lights  directly into the wall and keep the number to a minimum.      6) Some of the bulbs on your string of lights have already taken time off   for the holidays.        Replace any string of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb   connections. These can easily start a fire. 7) You've remembered to keep yourself well hydrated, but the same can't be said for your Christmas tree. Always keep water in the tree stand. Check daily and add water as needed. Dried-out trees are a major fire hazard.   8) You're sure those strings of Christmas lights make the perfect hat to complement your holiday outfit. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. And most certainly, not for your head.   9) You've been lazy about disposing your Christmas tree so you got creative and came up with a new tradition: a Valentine's Day tree! Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Let's face it, the holidays are never perfect, no matter how they're portrayed in magazines and on television. But by following a few simple practices and precautions, you can create a fun and perfectly fire-safe holiday for you and your loved ones! And remember, have working smoke alarms in your home and create a home escape plan. Practice it with your family so everyone knows what to do if a fire does occur. Find additional tips and resources about holiday fire safety on our Project Holiday webpage.  Happy Holidays from NFPA!

NFPA 1: Electrical Fire Safety and Relocatable Power Taps (power strips), #FireCodeFridays

One of the more common code violations with regards to electrical safety provisions in NFPA 1, Fire Code, relates to power strips (referred to as power taps in the Code.)  Just this week I was sitting in a conference room at an NFPA Technical Committee meeting and multiple committee members lost power to their computers at the same time.  Upon further investigation, we found that the power strips were plugged into one another (daisy-chained) to provide a series of power strips to serve computers around the room.  One power strip was accidentally powered off, so multiple strips were affected, a code violation many overlook.  For compliance, each power strip should have been plugged into a permanently installed outlet. Section 11.1 of NFPA 1 provides provisions for basic electrical safety.  Topics addressed in this section include relocatable power taps, mutiplug adapters, extension cords, and the building disconnect. The approval of new electrical installations or approval of modifications to an existing electrical system is a function typically performed by an electrical inspector or other building code enforcement official using the requirements of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®. However, in many cases, prior to a building or other facility being constructed or occupied, fire marshals or fire inspectors perform periodic inspections to ensure that the safety systems and features of the premises are in place, are in proper working order, and have not been compromised or adversely modified. Here the requirements of NFPA 1 can provide basic guidance to fire inspectors to assist with identifying proper and safe installations. With regards to relocatable power taps (power strips), Section 11.1.4 of NFPA 1 states the following: 11.1.4 Relocatable Power Taps. 11.1.4.1 Relocatable power taps shall be of the polarized or grounded type with overcurrent protection and shall be listed. 11.1.4.2 The relocatable power taps shall be directly connected to a permanently installed receptacle. 11.1.4.3 Relocatable power tap cords shall not extend through walls, ceilings, or floors; under doors or floor coverings; or be subject to environmental or physical damage. Power strips are commonly used for computers, printers, and other electronics at workstations, offices, and dormitories, where additional electrical power receptacles are needed. During inspections, power taps that are plugged into other power taps (daisy-chained) should be removed, because such arrangement is prohibited. Relocatable power taps are for temporary use and should not take the place of permanently installed receptacles. In addition, power strips should not be connected to extension cords to extend their reach.  Ideally, where extension cords are used for other than temporary purposes, additional permanent receptacles should be installed to accommodate the power strips. Understanding basic electrical safety practices can be instrumental in preventing fires in residences, hotels, dormitories and offices, among other locations.  For additional information, check out NFPA's resources on electrical safety! You can follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. 
Electrical Safety

ESFI reinforces proper use of extension cords to reduce risk of electrical fires

At home or at work, all of us at one time or another have used extension cords to power up a lamp or TV, computers, our electronics and other gadgets. But did you know that if you use these cords the wrong way, you could start a fire? Yes, in fact, roughly 3,000 home fires start in extension cords each year, so it's important to keep safety in mind when using them. All through the month of May, Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is promoting National Electrical Safety Month with tips, tools and resources to help raise awareness of electrical safety. This week we're highlighting ESFI's extension cord safety infographic, which provides important steps you can take to help you and your family reduce the risk for damage or injury when using extension cords throughout your house. Download it for free and share with family and friends. Think you've got safety under control? Take a look at an extension cord you may have in your living room, kitchen or bedroom. If it looks like a spider web with multiple cords protruding out of it, It means you have too few outlets in the room for your needs. Solution? You'll want to consult a licensed electrician and consider having additional outlets installed in the room and throughout the house. This is just one of the many safety tips you can get from ESFI. Review the infographic to get more resources that will point you in the right direction. You can also get great information on NFPA's electrical safety webpage including a downloadable tips sheet and video.
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Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Fire Suppression

With the increasing prevalence of electric (EV) and hybrid vehicles all over the world, it is important for the first and second responder communities to be educated on the various unique safety risk these vehicles may present. Since 2010, the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training Program has teamed up with major auto manufactures, subject matter experts, fire, law enforcement and safety organizations in order to address these safety needs.  Through our years of research and work in this field we have developed a comprehensive curriculum for first responders when dealing with alternatively fueled vehicles which include instructor led classroom courses, free interactive online learning, an Emergency Field Guide, and informational/educational videos. Here are a few important takeaways on EV and hybrid fire safety for first responders: When suppressing a vehicle fire involving an EV or hybrid, water is the recommended extinguishment agent. Large amounts of water may be required, so be sure to establish a sufficient water supply before operations commence. As with all vehicle fires, toxic byproducts will be given off, so NFPA compliant firefighting PPE and SCBA should be utilized at all times. DO NOT attempt to pierce the engine or battery compartment of the vehicle to allow water permeation, as you could accidentally penetrate high voltage components. Following extinguishment, use a thermal imaging camera to determine the temperature fluctuation of the high voltage battery before terminating the incident, to reduce re-ignition potential. For more information on EV and hybrid vehicle safety, we encourage all first and second responders to visit our website at EVSafetyTraining.org to take our free online training and utilize our various resources. For inquiries or questions please contact me at aklock@nfpa.org as the Project Manager of NFPA's Alternative Fuel Safety Program.
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