This week I joined industry leaders and experts in Las Vegas for the NFPA Conference and Exposition. The mission of the National Fire Protection Association is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. Each year I find this conference to be a tremendous opportunity to connect with so many of my peers and to learn about the new trends in Fire Protection. I’d like to share just a few of my observations from the three days I spent at the conference.
1. The upcoming new edition of NFPA 75 and 76 standards will include much needed new requirements for protection of Data Centers and Telecommunications facilities.
On Monday morning, I listened to Jonathan Hart, NFPA associate fire protection engineer, review the latest updates to these important standards. Both standards (75 and 76) will now include entirely new sections addressing the use of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment, which is a growing trend in these facilities. Other changes involve selective depowering, abandoned cables, pre-fire planning, documentation of risk assessment and suppression in raised floors. Water Mist Fire Suppression Systems are now recognized as a possible acceptable protection solution for these mission critical facilities. Click here to read more about this conference session.
2. The University of Maryland is performing interesting research related to Clean Agent extinguishing concentrations for electrical energy augmented fires.
The University of Maryland and 3M are working together on a research project to examine Clean Agent extinguishing performance for fires with various heat flux rates. Although his testing isn’t complete, Romil Patel (Fire Protection Engineering Student at the University of Maryland) shared some preliminary data which may ultimately be used to substantiate changes to the NFPA 2001 standard for required gaseous agent concentrations to extinguish electrically energized fires. The driver for studying this topic is the dramatic increase in power densities in typical data center and telecommunications facilities. Energy densities of 10 – 20 kW per rack are becoming the norm in many of these facilities. Those involved in the project want to assure the NFPA standard prescribes appropriate minimum agent concentrations for this type of fire hazard. Click here to read more about this research.
3. The membership of NFPA voted to approve a new edition of NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code including several significant changes.
Once approved by the NFPA Standards Council in August, the 2013 edition of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code will be published. Over the past three years, the members who serve on the 10 Technical Committees that oversee this document responded to 700 public proposals and then 500 public comments related to revising this standard. Before the final document was approved this week, those attending the Annual Technical Session in Las Vegas heard and voted on 15 different motions to amend the document. These motions are made by members who wish to overturn an action made by the Technical Committee, which in many cases means overturning one of the new or revised requirements. I wasn’t able to attend the Technical Session to hear the outcome of these motions. If you are interested, check the NFPA Conference Blog to find out the final results of these 15 motions.
4. The NFPA has launched a clever advertising campaign about the benefits of becoming an NFPA member.
Those who attended the opening general session got to be the first to see three short videos which will be used in an upcoming campaign to promote membership in the NFPA. These videos seemed to be well received by those attending and generated a lot of laughter. One of the videos featured an NFPA member whose membership card displayed the name “Code Weenie” who exhibited several amazing supernatural abilities. The video leads you to believe that you also can have these abilities if you become an NFPA member. I thought they were quite funny. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Video 1: Become an NFPA member. You won’t believe the perks.
Video 2: Find your Edge. Join NFPA today!
Video 3: Don’t be an NFPA wannabe. Join NFPA today!
5. Many NFPA members volunteer a great deal of time and give so much of themselves to promote the cause of Fire Safety.
Each year at this conference, the NFPA recognizes a few people who have served diligently to support the mission of the association. Before each deserving volunteer is presented with their award, a brief video is shown to tell the story of their exemplary service. Most have been volunteering their time and effort for 30 or even 40 years and have played a big role in moving the fire safety industry forward. I am inspired by the personal sacrifice and giftedness of these men and women who have the same passion that I do for protecting people and business from the risk of fire.
The Standards Medal was awarded to Edward Budnick of Hughes Associates.
The Research Foundation Medal was awarded to Garner Palenske of AON Fire Protection Engineering.
The Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year was Marsha Geisler of the Downers Grove, IL Fire Department
The Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention Week Award was awarded to Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems of El Segundo, CA.