Articles by Birgitte Messerschmidt
EFFECT will highlight the need for a more detailed risk assessment by a qualified team of facade and fire engineers The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has created EFFECT, an Exterior Facade Fire Evaluation Comparison Tool to help global building owners, facility managers and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) proactively assess risk in their high-rise building inventory with combustible facades. Enforcement authorities and those responsible for managing large portfolios of high rise buildings have been lacking a tool to assess and prioritise remediation works. Fires in high-rise buildings with combustible exterior wall assemblies have occurred in cities from Berlin to Las Vegas to Dubai to London. In response to concern around the world, NFPA sponsored research by Arup, a global firm of engineering consultants, designers and planners working across every aspect of today’s built environment, to develop a risk assessment methodology that enables the prioritisation of mitigation work. Prioritising inspection and remediation efforts The Fire Protection Research Foundation facilitated a detailed review of the project with input from an international panel including Jensen Hughes as technical peer reviewer and Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants of Dubai as advisors on facade systems fire testing. This High-Rise Buildings with Combustible Exterior Wall Assemblies research takes into account the building envelope; potential ignition sources; building characteristics; and existing fire safety measures such as means of warning, containment, and extinguishment. The result is the comprehensive prioritisation tool, EFFECT. Arup’s thorough research allowed us to create EFFECT so that authorities can now prioritise inspection and remediation efforts in their jurisdiction" “High-rise fires, where combustible facades are present, tend to move swiftly and can cause tremendous loss of life and property,” NFPA Director of Applied Research Birgitte Messerschmidt said. “We have seen news footage of fully engulfed high-rise buildings; and heard from concerned stakeholders looking to get out in front of facade fire and life safety problems. Arup’s thorough research allowed us to create EFFECT so that authorities can now prioritise inspection and remediation efforts in their jurisdiction.” Two-tiered risk assessment process “Keeping communities safe is at the heart of our work and it has become increasingly clear that there is a significant need to help building owners and authorities to risk-assess buildings with combustible facade systems in their portfolios and where necessary, prioritise remediation work,” Arup Fire Engineering Leader Dr. Susan Lamont added. EFFECT takes into account the building, the facade, and the impact of potential ignition sources such as fire spreading from inside the building, or fire stemming from a vehicle, trash container, or balcony outside. The tool employs a two-tiered risk assessment process: Tier 1 entails an AHJ, building owner, or facility manager answering a small number of questions with clearly pre-defined answers, to inform the ranking of buildings within their portfolio. Some questions pertain to the combustibility of the insulation and facade cladding; the presence of sprinklers; potential ignition sources; and the type of alarm system. Tier 2 is where authorities will complete a deeper fire risk assessment evaluation of those buildings deemed at risk in Tier 1. Onsite inspection; as-built information; maintenance records; samplings; and laboratory testing of unknown facade materials are considered in this section. The tool can be used in any geographic area; and currently applies to residential or business type occupancies that are over 18m high Assessing risks in existing buildings EFFECT, which is free to access, comes with a user’s guide that describes the methodology but is intended to help the user to answer each of the questions posed by EFFECT through words, images and examples. In some instances, EFFECT will highlight the need for a more detailed risk assessment by a qualified team of facade and fire engineers. The tool can be used in any geographic area; and currently applies to residential (hotel, apartments) or business (office) type occupancies that are over 18m high. This height is measured as the vertical distance from the fire department access level to the uppermost occupied floor of the building. EFFECT assesses risk in existing buildings and has not been created for use in new building design.
Fire chiefs endorse position papers on hot work safety, the economic impact of firefighter injuries, suicide prevention, the National Firefighter Registry, data analyst/chief information officer, and the Centre for Homeland Defence and Security Fire chiefs from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Urban Fire Forum (UFF) last week at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts. NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley welcomed the chiefs and provided an overview of the association’s mission, reinforcing the critical role urban fire service leaders play in reaching the Association’s goals and initiatives. Special guests at the Forum included Chief G. Keith Bryant, Administrator of the United States Fire Administration (USFA); Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) President, and Chief of the Edmonton, Alberta Fire Department Ken Block; United Kingdom Chief Inspector Crown Premises Fire Safety CFO Peter Holland; Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council of the United Kingdom (NFCC), CFO Roy Wilsher; and, International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) acting Executive Director Chief Rob Brown. Six papers The group endorsed six important documents as official UFF-Metro Chiefs position papers: Hot Work Safety The Economic Impact of Fire Fighter Injuries Suicide Prevention Support for the National Firefighter Registry Data Analyst/Chief Information Officer (NFPA Standard) Support for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security Beyond the immediate hazards at the incident scenes, these exposures can cause physical and mental health concerns" “Today’s firefighters respond to a broad range of emergencies and catastrophic events that have become commonplace in the United States and throughout the world. Beyond the immediate hazards encountered at the incident scenes, these exposures can cause physical and mental health concerns that can surface long after the actual incidents. To adequately manage these situations fire chiefs must understand, track and document risk exposures and be prepared to identify and address issues in the early stages,” said NFPA Metro Chiefs Executive Secretary Russ Sanders and coordinator of the event. “The position papers endorsed by the Urban Fire Forum Chiefs provide the information and resources needed to effectively address the ever-changing challenges facing today’s fire service.” UFF Core Group The above listed position papers and supporting documentation are available on the Urban Fire Forum website. Sanders points to the particular timeliness of the Post Traumatic Stress and Suicide Prevention presentations, as well as other important topics discussed, such as the Fire Fighter Cancer Registry, the NFORS Exposure App, Staffing Safety, the latest research reports from FM Global and UL Fire Service Research Institute, and how to effectively use Social Media. The following officers of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro) Executive Board make up the core group of the UFF: Chief Mike Duyck - Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Tigard, Oregon, President Chief John Lane - Winnipeg Fire & Paramedic Service, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Vice President Chief Don Lombardi - West Metro Fire Protection District, Lakewood, Colorado, Secretary Chief Robert Rocha - Corpus Christi Fire Department, Corpus Christi, Texas, Treasurer Chief (Ret.) William “Shorty” Bryson - Miami and Miami-Dade (Florida) Fire Rescue, Senior Board Member Participating chiefs The officers and Senior Board Member of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro) Executive Board make up the core group of the UFF. These chiefs are joined by a select group of at-large Metro Chiefs. This year’s participating chiefs were: Chief Ken Block - Edmonton Fire & Rescue services, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Chief Rob Brown - Interim Executive Director, International Association of Fire Chiefs Chief Keith Bryant - Administrator, United States Fire Administration Chief John Butler - Fairfax County Fire Rescue, Fairfax, Virginia Chief Mary Cameli - Mesa Fire Department, Mesa, Arizona Commissioner Joe Finn - Boston Fire Department, Boston, Massachusetts Commissioner Richard Ford - Chicago Fire Department, Chicago, Ill. Chief Reginald Freeman - Hartford Fire Department, Hartford, Connecticut Chief Peter Holland - Chief Inspector Crown Premises Fire Safety, London, England Chief Kara Kalkbrenner - Phoenix Fire Department, Phoenix, Arizona Chief Ernest Malone - Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis, Indiana Chief Daryl Osby - Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles, California Director Gina Sweat - Memphis Fire Department, Memphis, Tennessee Chief Roy Wilsher - Chair, National Fire Chiefs Council, Hertfordshire, England Lauren Depew - Social Media Manager, NFPA Casey Grant - Executive Director, Fire Protection Research Foundation, NFPA Kenny Fent, PhD - Head, National Fire Fighter Registry, NIOSH Meghan Housewright - Director, Fire and Life Safety Institute, NFPA Heather Issvoran - Director, Strategic Communications, Center for Homeland Defense & Security Daniel Madrzykowski, PhD - Senior Research Engineer, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute Birgitte Messerschmidt - Director, Applied Research, NFPA Lori Moore-Merrell, DrPh, MPH - President and CEO, International Public Safety Data Institute Laura Moreno - Senior Engineer, NFPA Abby Morris, MD - Medical Director, IAFF Behavioral Health Center Erin Oehler, JD - Associate Project Director, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention David O’Keeffe - Senior Consultant, Center for Homeland Defense and Security Jim Pauley - President and CEO, NFPA Michael Spaziani - Manager, Fire Service Programs, FM Global Urban Fire Forum The Urban Fire Forum brings together fire chiefs who are responsible for protecting some of the largest urban centers in the world. The program objectives are to provide the chiefs an opportunity to learn from their peers and expert speakers, and for NFPA to stay abreast of current trends and needs in the fire service. As part of the overall mission of the UFF, chief officers share UFF deliverables and related information with fire officers from all over the world. The Metropolitan Fire Chiefs (Metro) Association brings together fire chiefs from large metropolitan fire departments to share information and focus on major issues effecting policy changes in the U.S. and abroad. Its members belong to the IAFC and NFPA and are the fire chiefs of jurisdictions with minimum staffing of 350 fully-paid career firefighters. For more information, contact Metro Executive Secretary, Russ Sanders.