Comprehensive Approach to Fire Protection

Comprehensive Approach

Unit 1: Impact of Significant Building Fires

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to

    • Describe the impact of historically significant building fires on building codes, fire codes and product test method development.
    • Describe the components of a comprehensive fire protection approach and the benefits of its use, both reactively and proactively.
    • Identify three resources available for use to properly evaluate products, materials and structures for code compliance.
    • Assess the validity of a specific product end-use application given the product’s certification.
    • Explain the independent third party product certification process and the benefits of its use
    • Recognize the impact of smoke and fire paths on the selection of mitigating tools, applicable codes and fire safety standards.

An assessment will be given at the end of the course. This assessment will test your understanding by providing a case study for you to identify products or systems involved and appropriate fire safety solutions.

2013 US Fire Loss Clock

2013 Fire Loss Clock

(Source: Fire Loss in the United States during 2013, Michael J. Karter, Jr. NFPA, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169, www.nfpa.org Fire Analysis & Research Division, osds@nfpa.org)

The following chart shows the decrease in number of fires and civilian casualties, while the cost from property damage continues to go up.

Losses such as these underscore the need for a multi-disciplined approach to fire protection.

us fire loss 2013

Total Cost of Fire

Development in fire protection practice in the United States have traditionally been reactionary. Typically, tragic fire events have prompted change to building codes, fire codes, and prevention practice. Within the last two decades, education, prevention, code enhancements, and fire service capabilities have evolved proactively.

Reviewing significant building fires helps put building and fire code enforcement into an historical context so the community better understands the requirements.

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Describe the impact of historically significant building fires on building code, fire code and product test method development

Analysis and review of historical catastrophic fires reveals the contributions made to almost every component of the comprehensive fire protection approach. Advances in construction materials, detection alarms, active suppression systems, large assembly building design and building code development can be attributed to these four disastrous fires. Each fire is described by:

  • Facts about the fire
  • Contributing factors
  • Lessons learned

The Great Boston Fire

The Great Boston Fire
  • Facts about the Fire
  • Contributing Factors
  • Lessons Learned

The Cocoanut Grove Fire

  • Facts about the Fire
  • Contributing Factors
  • Lessons Learned

 

Our Lady of Angels

  • Facts about the Fire
  • Contributing Factors
  • Lessons Learned

 

McCormick Place

  • Facts about the Fire
  • Contributing Factors
  • Lessons Learned

In this unit, you learned about the impact of historically significant building fires on building code, fire code and product test method development. Some items to remember from this unit are:

  • Fire protection in the United States has traditionally been a reactive practice.
  • Education, prevention, code enhancements, and fire service capabilities continue to evolve proactively.

How to Engineer Safety into a Building

https://youtu.be/4zVIHLh7nW8

Comprehensive Fire Protection Approach

An integrated, multi-component approach to fire protection can have greater impact than a single fire protection element. This course presents a six-component approach composed of education & prevention, content flammability & interior finish, detection & alarm, active suppression, passive resistance, and fire service.

Unit 2: Comprehensive Fire Protection Approach
By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the components of a comprehensive fire protection approach and the benefits of its use, both reactively and proactively

How do you define a comprehensive fire protection approach?

While this course organizes the six components of the approach in a clockwise order, realize that there is no prescribed order to the components for a fire event.

  • Education & Prevention
  • Design of Burnable Items (Materials, Products & the Environment
    • Content flammability
    • Interior finish
  • Active Systems
    • Detection and Alarm
    • Suppression
  • Passive Protection
    • Compartmentation
  • Fire Service

View this video clip to see how this approach can be applied to a fire event. The scenario text highlights the situation details. Possible actions to mitigate the fire are listed for the specific component.

Comprehensive Fire Protection - Education & Prevention

Unit 3: Resources for Product Evaluation and Code Compliance

Using the proper resources to evaluate products for code compliance can improve the accuracy and consistency of code enforcement efforts. This unit reviews a variety of resources available to evaluate products for code compliance.

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Identify three resources available for use to properly evaluate products, materials and structures for code compliance

The following are definitions used to describe codes and standards:

Code – Mandatory practices that support fire protection in buildings, homes, products, etc. which must be adopted by the local jurisdiction. A code is a document that is an extensive compilation of provisions covering broad subject matter or that is suitable for adoption into law.

Standard – A published technical document that represents an industry consensus on how a material, product or assembly is to be designed, manufactured, tested or installed so that a specific level of performance is obtained. A standard describes how to achieve code compliance.

The next page displays examples of products in all components of the approach that comply with codes and standards.

These images give examples of products in all components of the approach that comply with codes and standards.

  • Education & Prevention
  • Design of Burnable Items (Materials, Products & the Environment)
    • Content flammability
    • Interior finish
  • Active Systems
    • Detection and Alarm
    • Suppression
  • Passive Protection
    • Compartmentation
  • Fire Service

The following are some examples of codes and standards:

    • International Code Council (ICC) is an organization formed from former regional building code organizations, such as BOCA, ICBO, SBCCI
    • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
      • NFPA 101
      • Codes
      • Standards
      • Recommended practices
    • Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) Standards
    • American Society of Testing Materials Standards (ASTM)
  • Locally approved or written building codes and statutes
  • Municipalities and levels of government can pass numerous fire safety codes, but none can be effective without a component of enforcement. Here are resources that keep the use of codes relevant and applicable:
      • Presence of Third Party certification marks
      • UL Certifications, FM Approvals
      • Directories (hardcopy and online)
      • Information Services that specialize in providing standards and building codes (such as IHS – The Source for Critical Information and Insight(TM), COM-2000)
      • State fire marshal
      • Local fire prevention bureaus
    • ICC evaluation services

Building and fire codes exist to be used and enforced, product safety standards make the application of codes possible, and enforcement ensures compliance.

 

placeholder diagram for Flash animation
The inter-relationship of these entities support the comprehensive fire protection approach by making its application real and relevant.

Three different approaches for the searching of product compliance information are listed here:

  • Product Certification Aids
      • Hardcopy product directory
      • Online product directory (for example, www.ul.com and www.fmglobal.com)

 

  • Subscription services – purchased services which provide additional online support via text searching


The next two pages show demonstrations of how to use a Product Certification Aid, both hardcopy and online, to search for the applicable information.

This demonstration shows how to search for product information using a hardcopy directory. For this case, the product is a control valve for an automatic sprinkler system manufactured by the Grinnell Corporation.

Scroll down and click the Play button on the video clip control to begin the demonstration. Click theNext button on this page after you are done watching the video clip.

This demonstration shows how to search for product information using an online directory. For this case, the product is a control valve for an automatic sprinkler system manufactured by the Grinnell Corporation.

Scroll down and click the Play button on the video clip control to begin the demonstration. Click theNext button on this page after you are done watching the video clip.

In this unit, you learned how to identify three resources available for use to properly evaluate products, materials and structures for code compliance. Some items to remember from this unit are:

  • It is difficult to know every code or standard, but it is possible to know where to find them.
  • There are plenty of tools available.
  • UL links for Regulatory Authorities seeking assistance (see image below).

UL links to Regulatory Authorities

Unit 4: Labels and Product Test Validity

Just as codes and standards are examined for validity, product end-use can be validated as well. This unit provides the steps and practice of validating a product’s end-use. Labels are the most common way for a product to demonstrate that it meets the requirements.

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Assess the validity of a specific product end-use application given the product’s certification

What are the applicable standards for this door and what is required to bear a label?

image of fire door

This door consists of at least these six components that need to bear a label to be compliant with the three listed product safety standards.

image of fire door with 3 codes and 6 standards

Review this sample label to understand the information a label may contain.
UL Label

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Given the global nature of product sourcing and the proliferation of printing technologies, a healthy market exists for counterfeit products. A counterfeit product has no guarantee to perform as tested, and could pose dangerous safety hazards.

Look for the following items in a counterfeit label:

    • Logo arrangement/proportions
    • Lack of installation instructions, or copied instructions
    • Missing company name, address or contact information
    • Spelling errors

Image of Correct and Incorrect UL Logo

 

Unit 5: Third Party Product Certification

A valid product label is the verification that a manufacturer has tested the product through an independent third party test process and the product has successfully met the requirements. This unit describes this product certification process and explains the benefits of using it.

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Explain the independent third party product certification process and the benefits of its use

A certification organization:

    • Is an organization involved in the act of attesting to something as being true or as represented or as meeting a standard
    • Must also be accredited to issue certifications for some product
    • Examples of additional accreditations are: US government/OSHA and NIST, AL2A, ANSI, ICC, and Standards Council of Canada*
    • Accepts voluntary submittal of products to standards testing
    • Provides the basis for practical application of code

*OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Administration, NIST = National Institute of Standards and Technology, A2LA = American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, ANSI = American National Standards Institute, ICC = International Code Council

This graphic describes the process between a submitter of product for testing and a certification organization. 

Third Party Certification Process

  1. A product is voluntarily submitted for investigation and certification
  2. Product is assessed for desired end-of-user application. Standards are communicated.
  3. Agrees to testing
  4. Certification body conducts tests issues certifications
  5. Uses certification mark on product
  6. Ongoing product verification

The following are common definitions for UL certification markings:

    • Listing – product complies with requirements for reasonable and foreseeable risks, including fire and shock. Products such as toasters and washing machines have this mark.
    • Classification – product complies with requirements for specific properties of or a limited range of safety risks. Products bearing this mark include fire doors and gypsum wallboards.
    • Recognition – material or component complies with requirements to be used in a listed assembly, such as a power supply used in a computer or an electric motor used in a washing machine.

Factory Mutual is the largest insurer of commercial and industrial companies in the United States. FM began offering testing or “approval” services as a way to help its customers reduce their cost of insurance. Through the use of an FM approved product, FM aims to reduce the risk of insurance they provide. FM uses the term “Approval” to indicate a product has been tested and meets rigorous loss prevention standards. FM also provides an Approval Guide, similar to UL product listing directories.

The AHJ is the final authority to approve product or material suitability as “code compliant” regardless of third-party test results.
Example of FM Marking

Numerous consumer savvy manufacturers recognize the value of advertising a certified product. Not all manufacturers use an independent third party to certify, and not all manufacturers are honest.

Be wary of ‘Self Declaration’ by getting answers to these questions:

    • Was the product evaluated appropriately for the fire hazard?
    • Was the right test conducted?
    • Are the products deployed in your buildings consistent with what was tested?
    • How about the components which make up the finished product?

Also be wary of “This report certifies…” by getting answers to these questions:

    • Does the report represent the product purchased or is it a simple snapshot of a single sample?
    • Is there ongoing surveillance at the manufacturer?
    • Manufacturers with multiple locations – products manufactured consistently using same components?
    • Is there ongoing validation of performance of suppliers?

The following list some benefits of independent third party product certifications:

    • Without a financial interest in the product’s ultimate profitability, the independent third party provides unbiased evaluation.
    • Testing appropriate for specified product end-use and for fire and safety risks.
    • Ongoing inspections at manufacturer to ensure products are produced in the manner consistent with the products originally tested.

In this unit, you learned about the independent third party product certification process and the benefits of its use. Some items to remember from this unit are:

    • Self declaration does not equal certification.
    • Not all certifications are the same.
    • Labeled products that bear the mark of an independent certification organization continue to be checked under a quaility assurance program.

Fire and Smoke Paths

This unit describes 15 generic smoke and fire path graphics and shows a method of recording the events of a fire into a simple spreadsheet. When the fire protection approach is applied reactively to a fire event, using graphics to depict the fire path can be helpful.

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the impact of smoke and fire paths on the selection of mitigating tools, applicable codes and fire safety standards
The following shows the first 2 of 15 generic fire path graphics* used to describe a fire’s path. These generic graphics can be modified according to your specific needs. Some fire path graphics have example images for reference.*The graphics were developed by the International Standards Organization.
*Photo source: One Meridian Plaza incident report.The following shows the generic fire path graphics 3 and 4.The following shows the generic fire path graphics 5 and 6.
*Photo source: One Meridian Plaza incident report.The following shows the generic fire path graphics 7a and 7b.
*Photo source: One Meridian Plaza incident report.The following shows the generic fire path graphics 8 and 9.The following shows the generic fire path graphic 10.
*Photo source: One Meridian Plaza incident report.The following shows the generic fire path graphics 11 and 12.

The following shows the generic fire path graphics 13 and 14. Note: Flying brands are pieces of burning debris that can spread fire to surrounding areas.

As described in the previous fire path graphics pages,

  • Smoke progresses through a building following paths similar to fire.
  • Smoke paths may not be identical to fire paths as their movement can be driven by fire, air currents, HVAC systems, wind, or fire fighter ventilation efforts.

The six components from the Comprehensive Fire Protection approach can be recorded to a simple spreadsheet. The six components from the approach become column headings in the fire analysis spreadsheet.

spreadsheet

 

spreadsheet 2

 

The following format is used to describe the First Interstate Bank fire. This format includes the fire path graphics, codes and product safety standards, and available mitigating tools (in green) as the event progresses.

Click the timeline arrow to show the progression of the fire along the timeline.

The complete Fire Analysis spreadsheet for the First Interstate Bank corresponds to the example just reviewed.

Note: The column headings are color-coded to show relationships to the Fire Safety Solution and theProducts or Systems Involved cells. For example, red indicates how the fire path could have been mitigated and green indicates how occupants could be educated in fire prevention.

Use the scroll bars to view the entire spreadsheet. Move your mouse over each column heading to learn more about the recorded information.

sample

 

Read the first six pages of Our Lady of Angels fire incident report. Then draw the fire paths described in the report on the two OLA section and floor plans. Follow the directions below on how to draw the lines.

OLA
In this unit, you learned how to recognize the impact of smoke and fire paths on the selection of mitigating tools, applicable codes and fire safety standards. Some items to remember from this unit are:

  • A compromised (i.e., not exhausted) component of the fire protection approach can still provide a degree of protection.

Unit 6: Fire and Smoke Paths

Review the first 10 pages of the One Meridian Bank incident report and the following 20 assessment questions. Proceed to the next page when you are ready to take the assessment.

    1. Report the fire service event(s) that occurred at 20:27:00.
    2. Report the fire service event(s) that occurred at 20:31:00.
    3. Report the fire service event(s) that occurred at 20:33:00.
    4. When does the Education and Prevention tool become compromised?
    5. When does the Education and Prevention tool become exhausted?
    6. When does the Content Flammability tool become compromised?
    7. When does the Content Flammability tool become exhausted?
    8. When does the Interior Finish tool become compromised?
    9. When does the Interior Finish tool become exhausted?
    10. When does the Detection and Alarm tool become compromised?
    11. When does the Detection and Alarm tool become exhausted?
    12. When does the Manual Suppression tool become compromised?
    13. When does the Manual Suppression tool become exhausted?
    14. When does the Automatic Suppression tool become compromised?
    15. When does the Automatic Suppression tool become exhausted?
    16. When does the Passive Resistance tool become compromised?
    17. When does the Passive Resistance tool become exhausted?
    18. When does the Fire Service tool become compromised?
    19. When does the Fire Service tool become exhausted?
    20. When does the rescue team find the 3-man crew?

 

Glossary