Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Conduct a CRA

Chapter 5 of NFPA 1730 outlines the requirements for the conduct of a community risk assessment (CRA). The CRA is the tool that is used to determine the priorities and strategies of a the fire prevention organization.  The CRA can be conducted in 3 steps.

  1. Gather Information
  2. Analyze Data
  3. Develop Strategy

Gather Information. NFPA 1730 describes seven content areas that should be assessed. These areas are:

1.)  Demographics - describes the composition of the communities population
2.)  Geographic overview - describes the physical features of the community
3.)  Building stock - describes occupancy types within the community
4.)  Fire experience -  describes the communities past fire experience(s)
5.)  Responses -  describes the types of calls for service
6.)  Hazards - describes the different types of hazards within a community
7.)  Economic profile - describes facilities and activities vital to the communities financial sustainability

Analyze Data.  After the above information has been gathered, the data must be analyzed and evaluated. This analysis should be applied to identify specific risks the community is exposed to. NFPA 1730 recommends the use of a risk assessment matrix.  The matrix is a visual representation that classifies hazards based on probability and impact.  

Another type of risk assessment matrix prefer presents hazards and risk level in a numerical format. I have written extensively on, and utilized, this numerical assessment matrix format. Read more about this method at, Fire Risk FAQ and Conducting the 3 Step Risk Assessment. You can also take my free on-line course, Risk Assessment Workshop.

Develop Strategy.  After you have defined your community needs, and identified risks and hazards, a strategy for prevention and mitigation can be developed. This strategy is referred to as a community risk reduction (CRR) plan. The CRR outlines the programs and strategies that will be utilized to reduce, mitigate, or eliminate the risks posed to the community.  The CRR will be different for every community common elements include, existing building inspections, plan review, origin and cause investigations, and public education. 

It is essential that a CRA be conducted. It is only through this analysis that fire prevention organizations can be effective.  A valuable tool for assisting departments with the CRA is the on-line Community Risk Assessment Guide, created by Vision 20/20. This guide can be accessed at

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fire Prevention Week 2016

The week of October 9-15 will be nationally recognized as Fire Prevention Week. The theme this year is “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”. Research conducted by the National Fire ProtectionAssociation (NFPA) has shown that a large majority of the population are not aware of the need to know the age of smoke alarms or that they must be replaced every 10 years.

Fire Prevention Week has been observed every October (always the week of the 9th) since 1922. The NFPA established this week to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This fire, rumored to have been started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, claimed more than 250 lives, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.

For more Fire Prevention Week information and resources visit,

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Monday, October 3, 2016

The Commissioning Agenda

Commissioning is a "process that will ensure fire protection and life safety systems perform in conformity with the design intent". NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for the Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems, creates a 4-phase plan to commission new structures.  Each phase has several items that must be completed in order to move on to the next phase.  Annex A of NFPA 3 provides a workflow diagram of what must take place in each phase of the project.  This is helpful to the commissioning team to ensure that all items are completed. 

For an introduction to commissioning read, Commissioning New Occupancies.

If you are new to commissioning, or a building owner that is thinking about commissioning, what can you expect?  What does the commissioning look like? What is involved in each phase? The below layout provides a proposed commissioning schedule and agenda to help understand the time commitment and team involvement that will be required.

For an overview of the documents listed here read, The 5 Documents Commissioning Requires.

Planning Phase

  • Planning meeting to establish OPR (owners project requirements)
  • Cx team meeting to assemble, establish, and introduce team members
  • Commissioning plan is developed and reviewed

Design Phase
  • Develop the BOD (basis of design)
  • Operation and maintenance manuals provided and reviewed
  • Training program content, duration, and objectives are developed

Construction Phase
  • Pre-construction meetings
  • Rough-in inspections
  • Final/finish inspections
  • Acceptance testing/completions
  • Owner training
  • Closeout documents delivered

Occupancy Phase
  • Deferred testing completed
  • Inspection, testing, maintenance is conducted
  • Training of occupants and managers

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