Safety Expo Highlights
The theme of this year's annual NFPA World Safety Conference & Exposition, which convened in Orlando, June 4-8, was: act individually when it comes to making a difference in life safety.
NFPA President Jim Shannon set the tone of the conference with his opening remarks in the general session imploring members that it was "a personal responsibility" to help overcome the forces who stand in the way of life safety. A secondary theme was NFPA's push to promote fire-safe cigarettes, something a number of states are considering, with Shannon reporting that New York and Illinois have already enacted such legislation.
One thing the NFPA membership did act upon was a number of proposed changes to the association's standards. Among the biggies was NPFA 72, National Fire Alarm Code , which was also the subject of a couple of sessions. According to Ray Grill, P.E., FSFPE, with Arup, who presented one of the NFPA 72 educational sessions, it was the goal of the technical committees to make the document more user-friendly and bring in new technologies and thinking that was relative to fire-alarm system design, installation and maintenance. For example, he said one source of confusion—and significant discussion—has been the classification of fire-alarm systems by type. In other words, does doing so drive the features and devices that must be installed as part of the system under the requirements of the standard? "This issue is often raised at the end of a project when system changes can be difficult and costly," said Grill.
Changes to the standard will clarify this problem. In fact, many of the changes to NFPA 72 were very much about clarifying definitions. In the end, the 2007 edition of NFPA 72 was accepted as amended.
One of the new additions to NFPA 72 was the inclusion of directional sound devices. This made the folks at System Sensor quite happy. The manufacturer debuted its ExitPoint directional sound technology last year, and even though the technology has just received NFPA acknowledgement, David George, the company's corporate communications leader, noted that the product, co-marketed with Notifier, is beginning to establish a track record, with one of their most notable installations involving a residence hall at Oregon State University.
NFPA 72 came up again in another session concerning changes to NFPA 25, Standard for Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems . In a discussion that points to the difficulty of keeping all the various codes and standards in synch, it was pointed out that in 2002, NFPA 72 and 25 were brought into conformity on the issue of alarms for waterflow devices, but that recent changes to 72 would disrupt this, thus the need for yet another amendment.
On the show floor itself, no earth-shattering product developments were unveiled, but a number of incremental improvements were notable. For example, Harrington Signal, Moline, Ill., introduced a single-loop fire-alarm system. Safe Fire Detection, Monroe, N.C., exhibited a digital linear heat detection cable that can be used for any type of fire panel and up to 10,000 ft. of wire per zone.
Elsewhere, a number of manufacturers touted improvements to existing products. For instance, Ansul/Tyco's Sapphire (3M Novec 1230) clean-agent fire suppression system. "Sapphire is now 50 times quicker than water," says Joe Ziemba, product manager with Tyco Safety Products. A year ago, he reported it was only 25 times faster. The product, he added, is also now in some 1,800 installations.
The aforementioned System Sensor also displayed some tweaks to its Beam200 smoke detector. The device features a plug-in design with universal mounting plates that goes all the way to 185 candelas, with rotary switch for horn tones and volumes.