Hot topics: Takeaways from NFPA Conference & Expo

Below are some key takeaways featuring hot topics throughout the fire and life safety industry.

By Steve Dryden August 2, 2019

At the recent National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Texas, #TeamHenderson was in attendance.  Throughout the conference, our veteran professionals shared and enhanced their expertise through various interactions and educational sessions. Below are some key takeaways featuring hot topics throughout the fire and life safetyindustry.

Ensuring the highest level of fire safety in healthcare facilities

  • There was a heavy focus on the future of healthcare regulations, which are always constantly evolving. At Henderson Engineers, our team constantly monitors the latest regulations to stay ahead of the curve for all types of healthcare facilities nationwide from hospitals and medical office buildings to outpatient facilities and labs. In the coming years, the focus will be on supporting NFPA standards such as the National Electric Code, NFPA 55: Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code, and NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.
  • Existing healthcare systems and facilities are applying for NFPA 99 compliance. This establishes life safety criteria for levels of healthcare services or systems based on risk to the patients, staff, or visitors in healthcare facilities to minimize the hazards of fire, explosion, and electricity. In the past few years, NFPA 99 has shifted to distinguish between new construction and retroactive requirements. This change has helped reduce confusion around requirements during compliance surveys at healthcare faculties.
  • Regulating healthcare facilities was a common discussion. Updates were shared from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission. The use of the 2012 Life Safety Code was discussed and the most cited deficiencies were shared with attendees, which included sprinkler system deficiencies, deficient smoke barriers, and unprotected openings in fire-rated walls and floors.

Fire Safety of Energy Storage Systems — Battery Installations

  • We learned more about evaluating potential fire propagation with energy storage systems. Fire testing has occurred with more testing coming for this significant fire hazard. The results of these tests are shaping the regulations and standards on these types of systems.
  • The evolution and correlation of these systems is crucial to ensuring optimal performance.
  • A new standard for NFPA 855 was proposed. This involves installation of stationary energy storage systems. The new standard will be one that the industry will look to in the future. Our fire protection engineers have been involved in the standards making process surrounding this new document and can assist you with questions or concerns you may have regarding energy storage systems such as stationary battery installations.

With one of the largest fire and life safety groups in the industry, Henderson Engineers specializes in healthcarevenueretail, federal government, high-rise, and mixed-use projects. Our engineers have leadership roles on multiple code and standards technical committees for the NFPA, Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), and other organizations involved in overseeing fire protection expertise in the AEC industry.

This article originally appeared on Henderson Engineer’s website. Henderson Engineers is a CFE Media content partner.

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Author Bio: Steve Dryden is a senior fire protection engineer for Henderson Engineers. He is responsible for providing fire and life safety design services, facility assessments and code consulting.