Topic: Research

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Fire Prevention Week past and present

 The history of Fire Prevention Week is very interesting. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire  Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has  been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9  falls. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's  Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running  public health and safety observance on record. The President of the  United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national  observance during that week every year since 1925.Wow! As NFPA gears up for Fire Prevention Week 2013, Prevent Kitchen Fires, I read through the themes of the past. Here are just a few: 1928 FIRE…Do Your Part – Stop This Waste!1947 YOU caused 1,700,000 Fires last Year!1948 Help Yourself to Fire Prevention!1949 Flameproof Your Future!1950 Don't Let Fire Lick You1951 Defend America From Fire1959 Fire Prevention is Your Job…Too1995 Watch What You Heat: Prevent Home Fires! Although the campaign themes have wording we might not use today, the general theme remains the same since 1922. Fire Prevention is all encompassing. We need everyone from the fire service, teachers, parents and children to keep people safe from fire.  Whether you are a local business looking to educate staff on kitchen safety, classroom teachers educating students on what to do if the smoke alarms sounds or firefighters giving a presentation to older adults in the community, the Fire Prevention Week web site has information and tools for everyone. I think my favorite past theme is from 1979, Partners in Fire Prevention. This says it all! We are all in this together. Take a look at past themes and let me know which is your favorite.
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Seven workers die in Confined Space Accident at Corona Brewery

Well, my confined space blog may have slowed down a bit in the past couple months due to other ongoing work, but unfortunately the confined space fatalities have not slowed down... In April, seven workers were killed in a tank that was undergoing maintenance and cleaning at a plant in Mexico City operated by Corona beermaker, Grupo Modelo.  It is believed that four victims were maintenance contractors and three victims were other Modelo employees.   There are few details available on the incident.  It is speculated that the deaths were due to “unspecified toxins” and that the three Modelo employees had entered the tank in an effort to rescue the other four contract employees.   Mexican authorities are reportedly investigating the incident.   Confined spaces are or should be clearly recognized in the beer industry.  The large numbers of tanks that are entered for maintenance and cleaning, combined with hazardous atmospheres including carbon dioxide produced during fermentation, inert atmospheres, and ammonia from refrigeration systems creates significant confined space entries and hazards.   These incidents do not just happen in foreign countries, and wine makers are also not off the hook when it comes to confined spaces.  A confined space death occurred just two years earlier at Napa California at Ancien wines when a worker was overcome by nitrogen and argon gases inside a tank.   Workers entering into tanks in the beer and wine industries should be intimately familiar with confined space entry procedures.  Even if contractors were always used to perform confined space entry work, it is unclear why Modelo employees would have entered the tank if they had been trained to recognize the confined space hazard.  The Modelo company has been in operation since 1925 and is the maker of the number 1 imported beer in the United States.  This confined space incident has the largest loss of life in one entry that I am aware of.  While it is not uncommon to lose 2-3 workers, this incident claimed the lives of 7 workers.  Confined space entry hazards continue to claim lives despite improved recognition of the hazards and despite regulations and guidelines available to prevent such incidents.   The National Fire Protection Association is developing a Best Practices document for confined space entry. This document will address gaps in existing standards and will be more prescriptive in describing things like how to test the atmosphere in and around confined spaces prior to entry.  The NFPA document is looking to go beyond the minimum standards and to provide those looking to develop a “gold star” confined space entry program with the information they need to do so.  Please email me at npearce@nfpa.org for further information and/or leave a comment below for discussion.  I look forward to hearing from you!
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Home fire sprinklers requirements in California yield no negative impact on construction

The Modesto Bee reports that home building permits were up nearly 55% in the Sacramento area of California this year compared to the same period last year. The article explains that the Sacramento results mirror a statewide increase in building permits for single family homes; proving that fire sprinkler requirements do not thwart home building. California is one of two states that adopted fire sprinkler requirements in all new one- and two-family homes, effective January 1, 2011.  Maryland also adopted the requirement statewide. In other states, opponents of home fire sprinkler requirements – which are included in all national model codes representing minimum standards to achieve a reasonable level of safety – have lobbied extensively against the requirement on the claim that adoption of fire sprinklers in new home construction will negatively impact home building. This claim is refuted by a study by the Fire Protection Research Foundation that found there is no negative impact in housing supply or cost in communities adopting the requirement, as compared to communities without the requirement. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) website contains permit data showing an overall average increase of 26% in single family home permits in the U.S., while California has experienced a 51% increase in permits issued for the same period. In contrast, South Carolina - included among the states rejecting statewide adoption of one- and two-family home fire sprinkler requirements - has experienced a 24% increase in permits; below the national average. View home fire sprinkler legislation/adoption updates by states and local communities.
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