Topic: Research

2021 “Ecosystem Year in Review Report” Highlights Successes and Tragedies and Resources Needed to Help Improve Global Community Safety

Fire and life safety deaths, injuries, and losses may be unexpected, but they do not happen by chance, according to the newly published 2021 Ecosystem Year in Review report by the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute. The year 2021, says the report, was one of modest improvements and tragic setbacks that included massive wildfires, a fatal collapse of an elevated subway rail, and a hospital fire that all highlight how gaps in our global fire and life safety system can lead to tragedies. These and other examples illustrated in the seven-page report are the product of weaknesses in a community’s Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, a framework NFPA developed in 2018 that identifies the components that must work together to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, life, electrical, and other hazards. A lack of attention to any one of these elements results in greater risks and can create a significant safety threat. If just one element breaks down, people can be hurt. The Ecosystem is a key to understanding how decisions made over time can either exacerbate or control threats to safety. There are many steps to improving safety and more work to be done. But the key to reducing losses in the years to come is starting now to make these changes. Download the report to learn more. This year, the report is also available in Spanish and for the first time since the report’s inception, fire and life safety advocates can read the report in Arabic. Find additional resources and information about the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem on our webpage.  
Electrical worker outside

New NFPA research reports Shine a Spotlight on Fatal and Non-Fatal Electrical Injuries at work

Each May, NFPA actively supports National Electrical Safety Month, a campaign sponsored by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which raises awareness of potential home electrical hazards, the importance of electrical fire safety, and the safety of all electrical and non-electrical workers. As a step towards this end, NFPA recently published two reports using data from the Bureau using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fatal Work Injuries Caused by Exposure to Electricity in 2020 and Nonfatal Work Injuries Caused by Exposure to Electricity in 2020,separately examine fatal and non-fatal electrical injuries at work. The reports find that many electrical injury victims are not “electrical workers” and are unlikely to have received training in recognizing and working safely around electrical hazards. Data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show that 126 workers in the U.S were fatally injured in 2020 because of exposure to electricity. Hispanic workers accounted for two in five (40 percent) of the victims. It’s also worth noting that the vast majority (99 percent) of worker who were fatally injured through exposure to electricity were male.  Workers who were 25 to 34 years of age accounted for one-third (33 percent) of the fatal injuries.  Almost three in five injuries (56 percent) were caused by direct exposure to electricity, while two in five fatal injuries resulted from indirect exposure to electricity. The report also found that private residences were the leading location of fatal electrical injuries, followed by industrial premises and streets or highways ranking third. Data from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses indicate that workers in private industry and public administration experienced 2,380 nonfatal electrical injuries in 2020, an average of 46 injuries every week. The report finds that seven in 10 of the nonfatal injury victims were male (72 percent) and 27 percent were female.  Three-quarters of the victims were 44 years of age or younger. The vast majority (85 percent) of victims were injured through direct exposure to electricity at work while eight percent of victims were injured through indirect exposure to electricity. Take time during Electrical Safety Month to learn more about electrical hazards in the workplace and help us to share crucial information about ways we can reduce the risk of electrical injuries and create a safer world for everyone. 

Symposium to Focus on the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem and How Professionals Can Apply its Principles to Help Solve Today’s Fire Safety Challenges

When NFPA unveiled the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem in 2018, stakeholders told us they were drawn to the idea. Over the last few years, they’ve asked poignant questions and examined ways they could work more closely together to help minimize risk and prevent loss, injuries, and death from hazards associated with fire, electrical, and other dangers in their communities. This fall, NFPA and the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering will co-host their first Ecosystem symposium, inviting professionals from all disciplines to share their knowledge and ideas, and engage in more action-oriented collaboration between groups. From understanding the principles of the Ecosystem to the importance of working collectively, attendees will come away with the understanding and the tools to apply the Ecosystem to the challenges in our modern-day built environment. If you are a researcher, academic, risk manager, code official, engineer, architect, or member of the fire service, or you’re in involved in policy or urban planning, or other related profession, we invite you to attend. The event, which runs from September 28-29, 2022, in College Park, Maryland, also features some special guest speakers, including: John Barylick, Author, KILLER SHOW: The Station Nightclub Fire, America's Deadliest Rock Concert Chris Connealy, former Texas State Fire Marshal Benjamin Ditch, AVP, Sr. Lead Research Engineer, FM Global Professor Margaret Mcnamee, Division of Fire Safety Engineering, Lund University, Sweden Birgitte Messerschmidt, Director, Applied Research Group, NFPA Jim Pauley, NFPA President and CEO The event is limited to 180 participants so reserve your seat today. For more information about the event and to register, visit the University of Maryland event webpage. We look forward to seeing everyone in September!

The Human Toll: Understanding the Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Issues Associated with Electrical Burn Injuries

NFPA has dedicated its efforts to raising awareness and helping educate workers, employers, and the public about the hazards associated with electricity both on the job and at home so that one day no one will have to suffer the effects of electrical burn injuries. Supporting ESFI and its annual Electrical Safety Month campaign provides an important platform for us to remind people about these hazards, but it is also an opportunity to share critical information about the physical, emotional, and psychological toll electrical injuries can take on a person and his/her families for months and years to come. NFPA created a video campaign series in collaboration with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors called Faces of Fire/Electrical that is devoted to telling the personal stories of people affected by electrical injuries. Survivors like Don Johnson, who suffered third-degree burns on his face, neck, and arms due to an arc flash event that happened at work and who spent years recovering from his injuries; and Pam Elliott who shares her personal story of resilience after suffering major burns over 50 percent of her body after a fire ignited by a damaged lighting fixture destroyed her family home when she was just a young girl. Electrical hazards can affect anyone at any time if we are not careful. These stories and many more highlighted in the campaign serve as powerful reminders about the need for more recognition and understanding of the electrical hazards that exist in our daily lives. Here are a few additional resources we are highlighting this month that feature stories from survivors and the doctors who treat them: NFPA has a podcast called the Mysteries of Electrical Injuries. In the interview, we speak with three renowned doctors from the Chicago Electrical Trauma Rehabilitation Institute about what an electrical shock can do to the human body, the treatments available, and how our understanding of the resulting injuries continues to evolve. It’s a discussion you definitely don’t want to miss. One of the doctors featured in the “Mysteries” podcast, Dr. Neil Pliskin, is part of a lineup of experts in the “Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety” program as part of the NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series. Dr. Pliskin discusses his work with electrical injury patients and the research associated with neuropsychological issues that can arise following electrical shock injuries. The program is available on demand through the end of May.  In a separate video, and as part of the Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign, we interviewed Dr. Victor Joe who works at UCI Health Regional Burn Center and sits on the Phoenix Society’s Board. In his interview, Dr. Joe discusses his passionate work to treat the complete physical and emotional healing of patients suffering from burn injuries. Join us during Electrical Safety Month in sharing this crucial information and spreading the word on how we can all reduce the risk of electrical injuries and create a safer world for all. You can find these resources and more like videos, checklists, and tip sheets, on our website.
Burning building

Register to attend the free Research Foundation webinar on environmental impact of fire: characterization of emission factors

The Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, will be hosting its next webinar on Wednesday, May 18 on “Environmental impact of fire: Characterization of emission factors.” With the increase in human population and the as new levels of contamination of scarce resources are revealed, the concern for the health of the natural environment is growing. Current efforts to improve the sustainability of buildings focus on increasing energy efficiency and reducing embodied carbon. This strategy overlooks the fact that a fire event could reduce the overall sustainability of a building through the release of pollutants and the environmental impact of the subsequent rebuild. Most fires occurring in the built environment contribute to air contamination from the fire plume (whose deposition is likely to subsequently include land and water contamination), contamination from water runoff containing toxic products, and other environmental discharges or releases from burned materials. In 2020, the Fire Protection Research Foundation undertook a study that developed a research road map identifying research needs to be able to quantify the environmental impact of fire from the built environment and its economic consequences, where lack of relevant data concerning emissions was identified as one of several pressing needs. In the wake of the development of the research road map, the Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated a follow up research to develop a database of existing emission factors (EFs) for a range of fire conditions and the development of some new EFs for building materials. This webinar will discuss the research roadmap and the emission factors database, including an assessment of scaling between small-scale and large-scale data measurement. Prof. Margaret McNamee of Lund University, Sweden, and Dr. Benjamin Truchot of National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks (Ineris), France, will lead this webinar discussion. Registration is free and required to attend; register by clicking the direct link or by visiting www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming FPRF webinars and watch on-demand archived research webinars. This webinar is supported by the Research Foundation 2022 Webinar Series Sponsors: American Wood Council, AXA XL Risk Consulting, FM Global, Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc., Telgian Engineering and Consulting, The Zurich Services Corporation. Did you know the Research Foundation is celebrating its 40th year in existence in 2022. Read this NFPA Journal article to learn more about this noteworthy milestone.
A house burning

America Burning: Honoring the Anniversary of the Release of a Landmark Report

Much has changed in the nearly five decades since the pivotal America Burning report was issued in 1973 and revisited in 1980. Today, as we honor the anniversary of the report’s initial release, we’d like to share some information about a recent Fire Protection Research Foundation report, Fire in the United States Since 1980, Through the Lens of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, that examines the current state of fire safety in the U.S. -- where progress has been made and what needs to be done today. The number of fires and fire deaths in the United States has reduced dramatically and that progress has unfortunately led to fire safety taking a back seat to other societal concerns that seem more pressing. To understand the headway that has been made and the challenges that remain, NFPA commissioned the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the association’s affiliate, to examine the current state of fire safety in the United States. The new seminal report, Fire in the United States Since 1980, Through the Lens of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, is expected to be a key document with valuable insights that will help to advance fire and life safety. The report references success in several occupancies such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and hotels and really zeroes in on residential fires because they account for the largest share of reported structure fires and most of the civilian fire deaths and injuries. And although there have been fewer fires in the U.S. than in past decades, statistically, if a home fire is reported, occupants are more likely to die today than 40 years ago. In fact, research shows that: Every 24 seconds, a US fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the country Nationwide, a civilian dies in a fire every  3 hours and 10 minutes In the US, a home fire injury occurs every 43 minutes The 63-page Fire in the United States Since 1980, Through the Lens of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem report shows, in part, that: The most successful recipe for fire safety in the built environment has been the implementation of fire safety technologies through mandated codes and standards NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™ elements – government responsibility, development and use of current codes, and an informed public – have had an obvious impact on the fire experience Approaching fire safety as a system, and not individual bits and pieces, provides an opportunity to unravel the complex and ongoing fire safety challenge for society Smoke alarms are a huge success story Cooking remains the leading cause of home fires and injuries Smoking has the been the leading cause of home fire deaths for roughly four decades Fire deaths of children under fire have dramatically declined, but there has been little change in older adult death tolls States with higher fire death rates correlate with larger percentages of people who have a disability; are current smokers; have incomes below the poverty line; live in rural areas; or are either African American, Black, Native American, or Alaskan Native Wildfire is becoming the dominant type of fire that causes catastrophic multiple deaths as well as large losses The new study analyzed fire data and other research from the past 40 years to provide a snapshot of what has influenced safety. Additionally, catastrophic multiple-death fires and fires in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) were looked at because they have the potential to cause significant human loss. As the report name suggests, the new benchmark research was conducted with the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem in mind. NFPA introduced the Ecosystem in 2018 so that professionals, practitioners, and the public had a framework that identified the key elements that play a critical role in fire, life, and electrical safety. The eight components are 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. When all the Ecosystem elements work together, the result is a fully functioning system that can benefit everyone. If one or more of the components fails, the system breaks down and tragedies can occur. To download the full report today, visit here and be sure to check nfpa.org/fireprogress for related content and resources in the months to come.
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