Topic: Public Education

Work from home

Fire Sprinklers: A Life-Saving Solution Remote Workers Can Feel Right at Home With

Covid changed everything. Will it leave a lasting impact on fire safety too? Before the pandemic, only about 5 percent of full-time employees with office jobs worked primarily from home. According to a recent Forbes article, that figure is likely to settle at 20 to 30 percent in our new normal, varying across occupations and industries. Many workplaces and offices are protected by fire sprinklers; NFPA included, I’m happy to say. And wise business travelers select sprinklered hotels when they’re on the road. Great. But what about all the people working at home now? The work-at-home trend has many positives for many people, but it also heralds a concern for remote workers – unsafe homes. And remote workers aren’t the only ones at risk. Home is where we want to feel safest, but that comfort is often misplaced. For example, smoke alarms were present in three-quarters of reported US home fires, but three out of five home fire deaths happened in homes without smoke alarms or with non-operational alarms (NFPA 2014-2018). And a recent NFPA survey showed that just one in three American homes had and practiced an escape plan. Making matters worse, just 7 percent of US homes have installed fire sprinklers. Today’s home fires can become deadly in less than two minutes. That’s justification for better home fire protection, especially home fire sprinklers. Having smoke alarms just isn’t enough. First, smoke alarms need to be working – all of them, all the time. Everyone in the home needs to recognize the alarm and know what to do. And everyone needs to be certain they know how and where to escape, from every room in the home. That requires a plan with an escape strategy for everyone in the household. Yes, smoke alarms are essential. But they can only alert us to the presence of smoke. Uniquely, home fire sprinklers go beyond that important task, controlling a fire when it’s still small and often extinguishing it. That curbs the growth and spread of deadly smoke, and gives families precious time to safely escape, regardless of age or ability or personal action in response to the alarm. As lifestyles keep evolving and more people of different ages are living together and working remotely, homes are being occupied for longer hours and used in new ways. Every new home built without fire sprinklers is substandard from day one. That impacts the entire community, including the fire service. What can you do? Make home fire sprinkler education a permanent part of your community risk reduction work. Focus outreach on local officials, builders and developers, and of course consumers, especially those folks planning to build or buy a new home. You are their trusted resource for information about home fire safety. As always, NFPA is here to help you. Tap into our free resources. And for home fire sprinkler content, use the free turnkey tools from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) that make it easy for you to educate all your local target audiences. Create a space on your website to offer facts about the value of building new homes with fire sprinklers and link to the HFSC website. Upload videos and other content, and post cards to your social media accounts. When it comes to home fire safety, these and other related activities are a great way to raise awareness of the life-saving technology of home fire sprinklers. Find this and other related information at HomeFireSprinkler.org where the site is free of advertising and all content is free to you. 
Thanksgiving turkey

Reduce the Risk of Home Fires in Your Community This Thanksgiving, the Leading Day of the Year for Home Cooking Fires

Each year, anywhere from 3 to 4 times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as on a typical day, making it by far the leading day of the year for home cooking fires. This annual spike can largely be attributed to people cooking multiple dishes at once, along with other distractions that can make it easy to lose sight of what’s cooking on the stove and in the oven. Year-round, cooking is the leading cause (49 percent) of U.S. home fires, with unattended cooking serving as the leading cause. Fortunately, these factors shouldn’t put a crimp in anyone’s Thanksgiving plans. Following simple safety precautions and guidelines can go a long way toward ensuring a fire-safe holiday. As Thanksgiving nears, fire departments, public safety educators, and advocates are strongly encouraged to promote the following tips and recommendations, helping ensure that households prepare for and celebrate the holiday with fire safety in mind: Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop. Some types of cooking, especially those that involve frying or sautéing with oil, need continuous attention. When cooking a turkey, remain at home and check it regularly. Make use of timers to keep track of cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times. Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from the cooking area. Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that can come in contact with a heat source. Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you’re confident the fire is completely out, standing to the side as you do. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance. Keep children at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from the stove and oven. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns. NFPA® strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers, as they can lead to severe burns, injuries, and property damage. Grocery stores, food retailers, and restaurants often sell deep-fried turkeys, which can serve as a safe alternative to frying one at home. Visit our Thanksgiving fire safety page for more information, data, and resources, including social media cards and tip sheets, that can be shared with your community.
Building a snowman

Electrical and Fire Safety Considerations At Home During the Cold Winter Months

Looking outside your window at the dropping thermometer or stepping outside to be met by the brisk air are both reminders that it is time to dig the snow shovels and snowblowers out of the back of the garage. Being an electrician, when I think about home responsibility and safety during the wintertime, my natural tendency is to look at it from an electrical perspective. But as  a homeowner, I also need to be considerate of best practices around fire safety. Changes to what we do outside and inside of our homes through the winter months present both electrical and fire safety risks that can be properly managed by both awareness and following the proper code requirements, in all codes that apply. As we transition into these winter months, there are requirements in both the NFPA 1 Fire Code and NFPA 70® National Electrical Code® (NEC®) that must be followed to ensure the safety of your home. Winter just wouldn’t be winter without holiday lighting. Ensuring that the holiday lighting is listed and, where installed outdoors is rated for the application, is a great start. But often, the outdoor holiday lighting masterpieces installed in the coming months are also inclusive of extension cords and relocatable power taps (more commonly known as “power strips”) as well. As was the case with holiday lights, extension cords and relocatable power taps should also be listed and rated for the environment in which they are installed. Improper use of any or all of these components within holiday lighting not only has the ability to pose an electrical safety risk to the home, but a fire safety risk as well. NFPA 1 has code requirements, which are also relevant when it comes to electrical installations, that apply to both extension cords and relocatable power taps. Some of those NFPA 1 requirements being: Extension cords shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap, or multiplug adapter and shall, except for approved multiplug extension cords, serve only one portable appliance. [1:11.1.5.1] Extension cords shall be maintained in good condition without splices, deterioration, or damage. [1:11.1.5.3] Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures; extend through walls, ceilings, or floors, or under doors or floor coverings; or be subject to environmental or physical damage [1:11.1.5.5] Relocatable power taps shall be listed to UL 1363, Relocatable Power Taps, or UL 1363A, Outline of Investigation for Special Purpose Relocatable Power Taps, where applicable. [1:11.1.4.1] The relocatable power taps shall be directly connected to a permanently installed receptacle. [1:11.1.4.2] 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. [1:11.1.4.3] When looking at the way a typical holiday lighting installation may be performed by those that may not be aware of these safety requirements, there are several things that stand out. Extension cords are not permitted to be plugged into other extension cords, rather they should only be plugged into an approved receptacle, power tap, or multiplug adapter. Because extension cords must be in good condition and free from damage, that rules out the extension cord that got caught up in the hedge trimmers during the summer and now has the damaged area wrapped in electrical tape. Relocatable power taps cannot be “daisy chained” by plugging into other relocatable power taps; they can only be plugged directly into a permanently installed receptacle. Both extension cords and relocatable power taps are not permitted to be installed where subject to environmental or physical damage. Furthermore, extension cords are not permitted to be affixed to structures, such as homes.   One area where both NFPA 1 and the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) align in their requirements is around the timeframe that holiday lighting can be installed. NEC section 590.3(B), which is directly referenced in NFPA 1 section 11.1.6.3.2, states that holiday lighting cannot be installed for more than 90 days. So, for individuals who get really excited about the holidays and install their holiday lights in early October, that means they will need to be taken down close to the first of the year to meet the 90-day requirement. Also from an NEC perspective, it is critical to ensure that all of your exterior holiday lighting is plugged into a GFCI receptacle that has been tested to be functional and working properly.   When the temperature in the house falls, the heat comes on. While likely the most common, gas-forced air furnaces are not the only way in which a home is heated. Boilers, heat pumps, and electricity are also utilized to heat homes. From an electrical perspective, electric furnaces, baseboard heat, plug-in space heaters, and electric fireplaces may also be utilized. With electrical equipment that is utilized to produce heat, it is important to understand that it puts a tremendous load on the electrical system. Circuits that operated normally throughout other parts of the year can now become overloaded when heating items, like portable space heaters, are plugged in during the winter months. When it comes to portable space heaters, it is also important to note that while it is heating your space, you need to maintain space between the heater and any combustible materials. In a home heating fires report published by NFPA in January 2021, fixed and portable space heaters were responsible for 81 percent of civilian deaths. That number is overwhelming considering the next closest equipment responsible for civilian deaths were fireplaces and chimneys at nine percent.   Because of the changes in the way homes are used when the cold weather sets in, both electrical and fire safety must be evaluated based on the change in use.  As we move into these chilly months, it’s important to stay keenly aware of the changing environment and implement the safety measures that are necessary to keep your home safe. Winter is coming… Please visit the NFPA public education page for more information on how to keep your home safe this winter and throughout the rest of the year.

Fire Prevention Week Was a Resounding Success - Thanks to All Who Participated

At its core, Fire Prevention Week™ is a grassroots campaign that delivers potentially life-saving impact to communities through thousands of fire departments and safety advocates who promote its messages at the local level. Each year, their hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity bring the campaign to life and actively engage the public in home fire safety and prevention. Alongside these efforts, NFPA® works with groups and organizations that share our goal of reducing the public’s risk to home fires, helping maximize the reach and influence of Fire Prevention Week. Here are some ways we collaboratively promoted and celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week and this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™”: On Tuesday, October 11, NFPA sponsored the USFA Summit on Fire Prevention and Control: State of Science, which was held in support of Fire Prevention Week. Hosted in Emmitsburg, Maryland, the live-stream event featured virtual remarks from President Biden along with presentations to the president by fire safety leaders, including Jim Pauley, NFPA president, and Michele Steinberg, director of the NFPA wildfire division, who shared their perspectives on the most pressing fire and life safety concerns facing our world today. NFPA President Jim Pauley (far right) participating in the fire safety summit. For the 15th year, NFPA and Domino’s teamed up to implement a joint smoke alarm safety program in support of Fire Prevention Week. Nearly 130 fire departments across the United States collaborated with their local Domino’s to conduct smoke alarm inspections for randomly selected customers. To kick off the program, an event was held at the Flint Fire Department on Wednesday, October 12, where 41 local first graders learned about home fire safety followed by a pizza party and a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog®. Amy Acton, president of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, and Kevin Sehlmeyer, Michigan state fire marshal, also attended in support of the program. Sparky joins the Flint Fire Department and local Domino's delivery specialist for the program's inaugural smoke alarm check and pizza delivery. From left to right: Amy Acton, president of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors; Fire Chief Ray Barton, Flint FD; Sparky; Michigan SFM Kevin Sehlmeyer; and Deputy Fire Chief Carrie Edwards-Clemons, Flint FD help kick off the 15th annual Domino's smoke alarm program held in coordination with NFPA. State Farm generously donated a total of 4,300 Fire Prevention Week toolkits to fire departments in 48 states throughout the country, helping spread our materials and information nationwide. Organizations like vipHomeLink, NextDoor, and Legoland actively supported Fire Prevention Week, sharing our home escape planning and practice messages among their audiences through digital platforms and live events. NFPA staff attended events in support of Fire Prevention Week, including the Operation Save a Life program, a partnership of Kidde Fire Safety, Home Depot stores, and local ABC affiliates that promotes the critical role smoke and carbon monoxide alarms play in home fire safety, as well as the Cause for Alarm program, which is also sponsored by Kidde. NFPA's Meredith Hawes attended and shared opening remarks at the Cause for Alarm event in Bronx, NY. NFPA's Kelly Ransdell (left) attended the Operation Save a Life program held by Kidde Fire Safety, an ABC affiliate, and The Home Depot. To see many more examples of how Fire Prevention Week 2022 was celebrated this October 9–15, visit our Twitter, Instagram, and NFPA and Sparky Facebook pages, which showcase the widespread passion and dedication brought to this year’s campaign.

What are the code requirements for haunted house attractions?

A version of this blog written by Kristin Bigda, publications strategy director at NFPA, first appeared in 2016. The article has been edited to reflect more recent code editions. With Halloween quickly approaching, thoughts of candy, ghosts, and haunted houses are surely on your mind. While haunted houses may be an entertaining way to spend an October evening, there can be devastating consequences if a fire were to break out and proper protections aren’t in place. What are haunted houses and special amusement buildings? Haunted houses may be temporary in nature or permanently installed. Sometimes, they are used only near Halloween, while others may be open year-round. This was the case in the tragic Haunted Castle fire that occurred at a permanently installed, year-round haunted house located at a Six Flags amusement park in New Jersey on May 11, 1984. Eight teenagers died in that blaze.  To prevent a similar tragedy to the Six Flags haunted house fire, provisions were added to NFPA 1, Fire Code, and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, to address special amusement buildings—the category in which haunted houses typically fall. According to the 2021 edition of NFPA 1, a special amusement building is “a building or portion thereof that is temporary, permanent, or mobile and contains a ride or device that conveys patrons where the patrons can be contained or restrained, or provides a walkway along, around, or over a course in any direction as a form of amusement or entertainment, and arranged so that the egress path is not readily apparent due to visual or audio distractions, contains an intentionally confounded egress path, or is not readily available due to the mode of conveyance through the building or structure.” A special amusement building is an assembly occupancy regardless of occupant load. Special amusement buildings often use special effects, scenery, props, and audio and visual distractions that may cause egress paths to become difficult to identify. In haunted houses, in particular, the presence of combustible materials and special scenery can also contribute to the fuel load and, may result in rapid fire spread should a fire occur.   “ Haunted houses use special effects, scenery, props, and audio and visual distractions that may cause egress paths to become difficult to identify What does the code say? Code provisions for special amusement buildings are found in Section 20.1.4 of NFPA 1. The code requirements for haunted houses are summarized below: Haunted houses must apply the provisions for assembly occupancies in addition to the provisions of Section 20.1.4. Automatic sprinklers are required for all haunted houses unless it is less than 10 feet (3050 millimeters) in height and has less than 160 square feet (15 square meters) of aggregate horizontal projections. If the haunted house is considered moveable or portable, an approved temporary means is permitted to be used for water supply.  Smoke detection is required throughout all haunted houses.  The actuation of any smoke detection device in a mobile or temporary haunted house must sound an alarm at a constantly attended location on the premises. A fire alarm system is required in all permanently installed haunted houses.   The fire alarm system in all permanently installed haunted houses must be initiated by required smoke detection, the required automatic sprinkler system, and manual means at a constantly attended location under continuous supervision by competent persons when the haunted house is open to patrons. Actuation of sprinklers, or any suppression systems, as well as smoke detection systems (having cross-zoning capability) must provide an increase in illumination of the means of egress and termination of other confusing visuals or sounds. The one exception is for haunted houses that are in permanently installed special amusement buildings that use a ride (or similar device) that occupants are contained in and unable to evacuate themselves without the help of a ride operator and that meet specific criteria. Exit marking and floor proximity exit signs are required. Where designs are such that the egress path is not apparent, additional directional exit marking is required. Interior wall and ceiling finish materials must be Class A throughout. Per Section 10.8.1, emergency action plans are required. Other requirements, not specific just to haunted houses or special amusement buildings, may also apply, such as:  Permits (see Section 1.12) Seasonal buildings (see Section 10.12) Special outdoor events, fairs, and carnivals (see Section 10.14) As we move into the Halloween and haunted house season, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and overlook the safety issues that may arise. Through the provisions in NFPA 1, which can assist code officials and fire departments in enforcing safe haunted houses, and NFPA’s Halloween resources for consumers, everyone can stay safe this season.

CRAIG 1300™ State Trailblazer Helps Improve Community Risk Reduction Programs

If you want to make your state a safer place through community risk reduction (CRR) but struggle with the time and resources to take a new community risk assessment (CRA) project, CRAIG 1300 is the cutting-edge tool to help you do it. And with NFPA kicking off its limited-time CRAIG 1300™ State Trailblazer discount*, now is the best time add CRAIG 1300 to your team’s community data toolkit. Powered by mySidewalk—an innovative community intelligence platform—CRAIG 1300 is your state-of-the-art CRR sidekick that can help make better sense of data through the application of NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. Generate and Share Data Insights Visually To make your state safer, you need to make decisions grounded in data. With CRAIG 1300—which stands for Community Risk Assessment Insight Generator—you can easily aggregate and analyze publicly available data, find impactful community insights faster, and share your research and proposals with other stakeholders using eye-popping graphs, charts, and heatmaps. “The great thing was the visual,” said Jeremy Holmes, Fire Chief for Covington Fire Department. “Once you’re able to pull the program up and show your counsel and leadership the data—and you’re able to map it out—it’s huge… It wasn’t just me saying it. It was them seeing it. And because of that, they jumped on board immediately.” Alice Morrison, data analyst for the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office (WVSFMO) said, “The data makes sense when you see it on these maps and charts, and I think that’ll be a great encouragement to the fire departments—as well as the public—to be able to see it.” For a limited time, your state can obtain this powerful CRR asset at a discount using the CRAIG 1300 State Trailblazer discount from NFPA®. CRAIG 1300 State Trailblazer As your department’s digital data assistant, CRAIG 1300 can be customized to your team’s unique needs; the State Trailblazer offer covers two of the CRAIG 1300 user-friendly dashboards that save you time and resources so you can focus on what matters most—improving community safety in your state. CRAIG 1300 State Pro: This turnkey dashboard uses geospatial analytics to identify your community’s unique characteristics without inputting any of your own data. CRAIG 1300 State Plus: This expanded dashboard option includes five additional custom indicators and NFIRS data to support your state’s public safety programs with data-driven CRR. WVSFMO’s State Fire Marshal, Ken Tyree, shared his biggest CRAIG 1300 success: “Based on our data from this program, we had the opportunity to participate in a smoke alarm installation program with the Marshall University football team.” Community Risk Reduction (CRR) Through Community Risk Assessment (CRA) An effective CRR plan is informed by a comprehensive CRA that defines, identifies, and prioritizes risks in a community through the nine NFPA 1300 community risk profiles: Building Stock Community Service Organizations Demographics Economics Geography Hazards Pass Loss and Event History Public Safety Response Agencies Critical Infrastructure Systems  Using several reputable data sources, CRAIG 1300 crunches the numbers and combines them into the profiles with speed and precision so you don’t have to. Find the CRR Solution for You With CRAIG 1300 State Pro, CRAIG 1300 State Plus, and CRAIG 1300 State Flex options, you probably want to know what CRR solution is right for you—here’s how to find out: Speak with a representative from mySidewalk—our CRAIG 1300 partner will walk you through the process of selecting the right CRR solution. Visit nfpa.org/CRAIG1300 to learn more about CRAIG 1300 State Trailblazer. *Offer valid for state agencies who sign prior to Dec. 31. Flexible payment/invoicing terms are available. No more than a 5% pricing increase will be applied upon renewal. However, this may limit availability of new features added to CRAIG State products. 
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