NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE FIRE MARSHALS
A Strong United Voice for Fire Prevention
Michael J. Richwine was appointed State Fire Marshal by Governor Gavin Newsom on May 15, 2020. Prior to that, Chief Richwine served as the Assistant State Fire Marshal from 2012 to 2018 and as Acting State Fire Marshal from 2019 to 2020. He began his fire service career as a firefighter with the Hanford Fire Department. He has 36 years of service with CAL FIRE - Office of the State Fire Marshal.
During Chief Richwine's career, he has risen through the ranks and held a variety of fire prevention and training positions within the OSFM, which include Chief of State Fire Training, responsible for administering the California Fire Service Training and Education System; Chief of the Fire Engineering Division where he chaired several OSFM regulatory advisory committees; and as a Deputy State Fire Marshal within Fire and Life Safety, Hazardous Materials and Pipeline Safety Divisions; and as a Fire Service Training Specialist in the State Fire Training Division.
Chief Richwine served for six years as a member of CAL FIRE Incident Management Teams and holds numerous professional certifications. He currently serves as ex-officio member of the Statewide Training and Education Advisory Committee and the State Board of Fire Services, within the OSFM, and is a member of National Fire Protection Association, International Code Council, and California Fire Chiefs Association.
Maine State Fire Marshal Retires
12/31/22 - Joseph Thomas
“Well, it is done. This afternoon I was taken home in an escort of some incredible FMO folks and dear friends. They put me out to pasture. As I signed off for the last time, Augusta RCC warmed my heart with some lovely words and sentiments. I respect them all so much and will truly miss them. Just like my brother and sister Jakes and Paramedics from Portland, these FMO folks are an incredible part of me. I'm so glad that my lovely wife Tammy could share in the moment. We, the fire service, are an incredible bunch. The people we serve have no idea what they have asked us to do. We are asked to do things no human being should be asked to do. We are asked to see things no human being should have to see. But we do; and we do it for them and our wish to be who we are.
I have had an incredible journey through life and the Fire Service. It has been everything I, as a kid from Munjoy Hill, thought it would be and more. I pray that the next generation can make the death and destruction stop. We have the means. Since 2009 every fire code and building code has held the means for it to stop. But it impacts special interests. They know who they are, and special interests impact politicians. Human life from fire has just not yet achieved the value of profit margin and political gain. They say we're great and their all behind us; but then they do their political and special interest things. That means we continue to put people in body bags; and we continue to bury our friends, peers and those we serve.
In 50 years, I think that is my greatest disappointment in mankind. Please you youngsters in the fire service, take it to next level for us. From the top of your lungs, let them know, enough is enough. We're willing to die for our citizens we serve but not political gain, special interests, and profit.I pray you can make that change happen for all of us. Be well and be safe my Fire Fighting family.
It has been a pleasure and hoot to serve with all of you. I love you dearly!!!!”
Joseph E. Thomas
Posted: Dec. 27, 2022
The Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act authorizes the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to send incident investigators to conduct on-site investigations of large-scale or remarkable fires.
On Dec. 20, 2022, President Biden signed the Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act to amend the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974. The act authorizes the USFA to send incident investigators such as safety specialists, fire protection engineers, codes and standards experts, researchers, and fire training specialists to conduct on-site investigations of large-scale or remarkable fires (major fires).
USFA will coordinate major fire investigations with appropriate federal, state and local authorities. Investigations may include the examination of the determined cause and origin of the fire and an assessment of broader systematic matters such as fire dynamics, smoke movement and structural component failures.
"This is an opportunity for USFA to engage in telling the story about fire safety components that could have been preventive or changed the negative outcomes from major fires like the use of sprinklers, self-closing doors and general adherence to building codes." Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, U.S. Fire Administrator, USFA
Following an investigation, the USFA will issue a public report on the findings or collaborate with another investigating federal agency on that agency's report. The report may include recommendations on:
The USFA will issue a draft regulation for public comment to implement the requirements of the act. It will include a definition for the term “major fire.”
The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) is proud to present a resource guide on residential fire sprinklers for code officials, builders, developers, and elected officials. The information serves as a source to ensure life safety concerns meet at least the minimum code requirements, regardless of whether residential fire sprinkler systems are required in their jurisdiction or not.
“Residential Sprinkler Design Enhancements, A Resource Guide for AHJ’s, Builders, Developers, and Elected Officials” was compiled by the National Association of State Fire Marshals, Model Codes Committee, Sub-Committee on Code Amendments Related to Sprinklers.
By clearly identifying all design enhancements allowed when residential sprinkler systems are installed, AHJ’s will be able to ensure that when residential occupancies are constructed without residential sprinkler systems these design enhancements are not allowed. This approach will help ensure that all residential occupancies in their jurisdiction are code compliant, regardless of whether a sprinkler system is installed at the time of construction or not.
The intent is to identify design and construction protection features that require consideration to maintain an acceptable level of safety in one- and two-family dwellings where amendments or deletions have modified provisions of the codes. The purpose is to alert code officials, building design and construction professionals, and regulatory authorities and highlight the required alternative designs where the requirement for installation of automatic sprinkler protection has been removed.
This guide deals exclusively with design enhancement options found in the 2021 Edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), as well as certain special allowances that are provided in the 2021 Edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Building Code (IBC), all of which are published by the International Code Council (ICC).
If you have questions or need assistance in referencing this resource, please feel free to contact Phil Oakes (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gary West (email@example.com) at the National Association of State Fire Marshals.
Utah State Fire Marshal explains fire dangers at large construction sites.
BY SHELBY LOFTON
Oct 26, 2022, SALT LAKE CITY – Following the large fire that broke out overnight in the Sugar House area, Utah State Fire Marshal Ted Black said there’s always a period of risk while a building is under construction. Crews are still investigating what led to the four-alarm fire Tuesday night.
Black said while a building is under construction, all of the safety measures are also under construction. He said things like fire alarms and sprinkler systems aren’t installed yet. “We have building and fire codes to help protect these buildings and systems in those buildings, but none of those systems are in place to protect the building during construction,” Black said.
He said fire extinguishers and fire hydrants are available, and in some buildings standpipes are put it in to help firefighters get to higher floors faster. “It’s really just an extension of our hose, but that allows us to get to the fire faster if it’s on one of those upper levels,” Black said.
He explained even with these tools, there are many objects on a construction site, such as wood, propane heaters, and welding materials that are combustible.
“You have highly flammable materials, you have lots of oxygen because of the way that they’re built and you don’t have the systems in place to protect those,” Black said. “Once the building’s constructed all the systems, the alarm systems, the fire sprinkling system, and in some cases standpipe systems, fire-rated walls and so forth all work together to protect the public and the people that live there.”
Black also pointed out stairwells are often unfinished in situations like this which makes it even more difficult for firefighters to put out the flames. He said it was, without a doubt, a challenging fire to fight.
“That was large hot fire, it’s like a campfire with lots and lots of wood on it so they burn fast,” Black said. “It takes a great effort by the fire department, Salt Lake City, and those who assisted them last night.”
New NFPA webpage and safety tip sheet provide guidelines for safe charging and storing of e-bikes and e-scooters in response to rise in micromobility device fires.
October 24, 2022 – The National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) has created a new micromobility device safety webpage in response to the concerns fire officials have about the growing number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries that power electric bikes and electric scooters (e-bikes and e-scooters) as their popularity increases.
The webpage features information about why e-bikes and e-scooters catch fire, what some jurisdictions are doing to better regulate that risk, and what tips people can follow to stay safe if they use, store, or charge e-bikes or e-scooters. A free safety tip sheet is also available for download.
According to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), in New York City alone, battery-powered micromobility devices have sparked more than 130 fires so far in 2022, putting the city on pace for more than 160 e-bike or e-scooter fires this year. This number represents a roughly 50 percent increase over the 104 blazes the FDNY reported in 2021, which killed four people. Five people have died in such fires in 2022, including a 5-year-old girl who died in August from a blaze sparked by a charging e-scooter.
“People are increasingly using e-bikes and e-scooters as a means of alternative transportation for work, commuting, and recreational activities, but what many people may not know is that the batteries that power these devices pose a major fire risk if they are not charged or stored properly,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “Our goal with this webpage and tip sheet is to provide important safety information and action steps users can take to reduce their risk of injury.”
According to Allied Market Research, the global micromobility market is expected to grow from about $40 billion today to $215 billion by 2030, with much of that growth attributed to the boom in battery-powered electric devices. By 2023, roughly 300 million e-bikes are expected to be used on city streets worldwide.
NFPA recommends these tips when charging and storing e-bikes and e-scooters to help prevent fires:
For more safety information about e-bikes and e-scooters and to download the free safety tip sheet, visit nfpa.org/ebikes.
About the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®)
Founded in 1896, NFPA® is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.
Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275
The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) Supports this effort by NFPA and encourages awareness and action due to the number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries that power electric bikes and electric scooters (e-bikes and e-scooters).
NASFM Leads Fire Service Effort to Enact Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE FIRE MARSHALS
Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act
Signed into Law by President Biden on March 11, 2022
The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has been leading the charge to enact the Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act for many years. “NASFM Presidents past and present have consistently worked to ensure the passage of this Act” said NASFM Executive Director Jim Narva, “the commitment of the NASFM Board and State Fire Marshals from across the country to help prevent this significant issue has never wavered.”
Former NASFM Presidents and State Fire Marshals Bill Degnan (NH) and Jerry Rosendahl (MN) were instrumental in having this legislation introduced in the House and Senate. Former Representative Charlie Bass (R-NH) introduced the bill in 2011 and Representative Annie Kuster (D-NH) introduced the recently passed legislation in 2014. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced her initial legislation in 2011.
“NASFM applauds the enactment into law the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act.” said Narva, “It is important we all strive to mitigate the potentially fatal effects of CO Poisoning. With States focusing on low-income families, the elderly and children, this law and its grant program will save countless lives.”
NASFM thanks Representative Kuster and Senator Klobuchar for their leadership on the carbon monoxide alarm issue and enacting this important public safety prevention law.
The passage of this critical legislation into law will amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to require residential carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to meet the applicable ANSI/UL standards by treating that standard as a consumer product safety rule. Incentives are provided for states to pass laws to require CO alarms for states and to encourage States to require the installation of such detectors to protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. In an overall effort to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, a federal grant program will be established to help states, local governments, and tribes to conduct CO education programs and install alarms in the homes of elderly and low-income individuals, as well as schools and other public facilities.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a proven dangerous threat, claiming at least 430 lives annually, with approximately 50,000 Americans sent to emergency rooms due to unintentional accidental poisonings, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CO is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas, and many people are initially unaware they are even being poisoned. Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning Prevention | NCEH | CDC
Safer Buildings Coalition & National Association of State Fire Marshals Develop Study Guide for New Credentialing Program
You’ve heard Safer Buildings Coalition talk about it over the last several months, and now the SBC-NICET (National Institute for Certification in Engineering) In-Building Public Safety Communications Certification Program is almost here – and with it: A comprehensive Study Guide and Reference. SBC is working with the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to develop the study guide and drive adoption of the certification program. Once implemented, jurisdictions will require NICET Certification, and this book will help interested parties prepare for and pass the test. The NICET certification tests and comprehensive study guide will be available from NICET and SBC in 2Q 2021.
This is a very big deal for the Safer Buildings Coalition, our members, and the industry as a whole. “This is one of the most important projects we have ever undertaken in serving our members which include industry and public safety. The study guide resource and associated training will be vital to ensuring that involved stakeholders acquire a comprehensive understanding of an Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES). Furthermore, initial certification is just a starting point; to maintain certification, individuals must strive for continuous self-improvement by enhancing their knowledge, skills and abilities through continuing education and job performance,” SBC Executive Director Chief Alan Perdue says.
The study guide resource and associated training will be vital to ensuring that involved stakeholders acquire a comprehensive understanding of an Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES).
The Safer Buildings Coalition Study Guide will be the definitive In-Building Public Safety Reference – not just for preparing for this certification, but for laying out the key knowledge principles required for competence in the area of In-Building Public Safety Communications Design, Installation, Maintenance, and Inspection. Published as a printed book, the Study Guide will remain in the library of key industry stakeholders for years to come – including architects and engineers, vendors, contractors, AHJs, license holders, and first responders. The book will be available in May 2021, and once available, professionals can start studying for the NICET test to become certified in one of the following categories: Technician (Level 1, 2 or 3) or Designer. Certification requires a combination of testing, skills validation, and work history. The Certification tests will be available from NICET 2Q 2021.
One of the most important parts of the program is to ensure its adoption throughout the jurisdictions. It is with that in mind that SBC is partnering with NASFM. NASFM is trusted and respected by Fire Marshals in all 50 states. As such, NASFM is the perfect partner for advocating the program. “NASFM is pleased to have partnered with SBC on this important project,” Jim Narva, NASFM Executive Director, says. “We fully recognize the importance of consistency in how the codes and standards are applied across multiple jurisdictions. Through NASFM’s State Fire Marshal members we hope to see statewide adoption of these critical NICET certifications.”
NASFM’s expertise is instrumental to ensuring the quality of the Study Guide as well. “We look forward to lending our management experience developing study guides and educational curricula to ensure we produce the best-in-class materials on this topic,” Narva adds.
Check out this primer to find out more about the importance of Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement System (ERCES).
A newly launched, three-year project, supported by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, will bring together NASFM and a group of diverse stakeholders to identify and develop solutions to solar and solar-plus-storage code enforcement and permitting challenges.
The project builds upon and will significantly expand the work of the Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC), an organization founded in California in 2015 as a forum for collaboration on guidelines for implementation of codes and standards for permitting and inspection practices of renewable energy systems. SEAC brings together authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs)—such as local building and fire departments, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, utilities, testing labs and other clean energy stakeholders for collaboration and problem solving related to solar PV installation and energy storage projects.
Under the recent U.S. Energy Department award, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) will lead the administration of SEAC and facilitate its expansion into a national forum. Other key partners in the project include the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), International Code Council (ICC), UL LLC, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), , Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) and California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA).
The project will facilitate improvements in the permitting and inspection of solar and solar-plus-storage projects by developing consensus-based solutions to high-priority codes and standards needs. An analysis will be conducted to determine the gaps in understanding and implementation that complicate code enforcement and can deter clean energy deployment. A consensus process will then be used to develop solutions. The project will also develop a website hosting information on clean energy code and permitting best practices and include extensive outreach to facilitate uptake of these practices.
Clear and comprehensive procedures defining permitting, inspection and other requirements for solar and solar-plus-storage projects are essential to ensure the safety and quality of installed systems. By identifying and addressing unmet needs in this area the project will advance public safety objectives. Additionally, by facilitating awareness and adoption of codes and standards best practices, the project will help reduce the non-hardware “soft costs” of solar and energy storage, thus supporting greater adoption.
“With over 20,000 local jurisdictions in the U.S. that issue permits and inspect PV systems, a consensus-based process to enhance related codes and standards is a powerful opportunity to facilitate greater deployment of solar and energy storage,” said IREC President and CEO, Larry Sherwood. “This initiative is unique in providing an open forum for all stakeholders to collaborate on these issues and IREC is honored to act as the program administrator.”
“The National Association of State Fire Marshals is pleased to partner with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, the Sustainable Energy Action Committee and others on this important project to help provide information on enforcement and permitting solutions for solar and solar-plus-storage projects,” said Philip Oakes, NASFM National Program Director. “This project will help address a critical need for State Fire Marshals, AHJs, fire and emergency services, industry and many others in this rapidly growing field.”
"As a founding member of the Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC), to me, there is nothing more exciting than uniting AHJs in one common cause," said R. Steven Jones, Assistant Building Official for the City of Oceanside, California. "I am proud to be part of SEAC's work with industry stakeholders and AHJs to promote safe solar photovoltaic installations and regional consistency."
“The City of Bakersfield is excited to be a partner in this project as it launches,” said Pete Jackson, Chief Electrical Inspector, Building Department of the City of Bakersfield and SEAC Steering Committee Member. “As one of the busiest jurisdictions in the nation for installation of renewable energy systems and a founding member of SEAC, Bakersfield looks forward to using its experience to develop consensus-based recommendations to benefit the safe and efficient installation of sustainable energy systems.”
“The adoption and implementation of building codes and standards plays a major role in supporting community resilience,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims. “The International Code Council is proud to collaborate on this important project that reinforces critical code compliance efforts across the U.S.”
“In order for solar to supply 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030, we’re going to need to work through longstanding code and enforcement challenges,” said Evelyn Butler, Senior Director of Codes and Standards at the Solar Energy Industries Association. “This network will provide a space for the solar industry to proactively work together, resulting in market-friendly and efficient standards for the companies that will ultimately follow this guidance. We’re excited to see the SEAC project expand and look forward to working with our members to participate in this important forum.”
"We are looking forward to this collaboration," said Benjamin Davis, Policy Associate with the California Solar & Storage Association. "Streamlining permitting can go a long way to safely lower soft costs, allowing more customers to go solar and reap the benefits of generating energy from their own rooftops."
“The IAEI looks forward to another partnership opportunity with IREC and these great industry partners," said Joseph Wages, Jr., Technical Advisor, Education, Codes and Standards at the International Association of Electrical Inspectors. "We appreciate the opportunity to provide training and safety-related information regarding solar energy storage to the electrical professionals tasked with installing and inspecting these systems. This information is desperately needed as energy storage becomes more and more the norm.”
To learn more about this initiative and how to get involved, visit the Sustainable Energy Action Committee website at: https://sustainableenergyaction.org/ or sign up for updates at https://cutt.ly/seac-signup.