Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Fire Door Gap Size Allowances - Am I protected?

For me, it’s that time of year again, annual facility fire door inspections.  I already know that the majority of these doors are going to fail, primarily due to door gap size allowances being exceeded. Current codes, NFPA 80, requires a maximum door gap allowance of ⅛” around the top and vertical perimeters of a fire rated door.  They allow up to ¾” door gap allowance at the bottom perimeter of the door. 

As I walk through the facility with my tablet and door gap gauge, I have to be prepared for the litany of questions that I will inevitably receive from facility managers. The primary question being, “How do I know that gap measurement is sufficient?”

In March of 2018, the NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation published a report to answer the question of how did the gap size allowances come to be, and are the current gap allowances the best practice. The study included a literature review of more than 100 published documents and media, and computer modeling.  This report, Influence of Gap Sizes around Swinging Doors with Builders Hardware on Fire and Smoke Development, can be viewed in its entirety.

This study and report made some of the following conclusions:

“From this information a great deal of information and data was collected that directly reveals that the gap sizes around swinging doors have a significant effect on the fire development.”

“A significant amount of work was done to trace the historic record of the prescriptive gaps sizes included in NFPA 80. It was revealed that the first inclusion of these gaps sizes was added in 1959. Initially, requirements were based on the mounting of doors; however, in 1967 the requirements switched to being based on the door construction. There is no evidence to suggest that this was done from a fire performance perspective, however the test reports from that time period indicate that the prescriptive gap sizes are in the vicinity of what was found during full scale testing.”

Aegis Fire Door Gap Gauge

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Innovating Our Industry [Seven Survival Skills]

Innovator. An innovator is defined as a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products. these are individuals who blaze a trail into a new territory. Innovation is necessary for our survival - as a people, and as an industry.

In his book Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, Tony Wagner provides a clear argument for the changes that are needed in our educational system (and to some extent, our parenting styles) to create innovative people. Without innovation, we will cease to develop and exist. In his previous book, Tony identified seven survival skills that people need to possess and foster in others in order for us to continue to thrive.  These skills are also what is needed within our industry of fire protection, life safety, and codes and standards development, to enable its continued growth and impact.
  1. Critical thinking and problem solving.
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence.
  3. Agility and adaptability.
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship.
  5. Accessing and analyzing information.
  6. Effective oral and written communication.
  7. Curiosity and imagination.
Tony adds to this list, “perseverance, a willingness to experiment, take calculated risks, and tolerate failure, and the capacity for “design thinking”.

The U.S. Army understands the importance and urgency to create innovative thinkers and leaders. In 2015 the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command released a “Learning Conceptpaper that identified three components that would contribute to a more competitive learning model.  These three actions can be implemented within our industries to enhance innovative thinking and growth.

  1. Convert most classroom experiences into collaborative problem-solving events led by facilitators (vs. instructors) who engage learners to think and understand the relevance and context of what they learn.
  2. Tailor learning to the individual learner’s experience and competence level based on the results of a pre-test and/or assessment.
  3. Dramatically reduce or eliminate instructor-led slide presentation lectures and begin using a blended learning approach that incorporates virtual and constructive simulations, gaming technology, or other technology-delivered instruction.
How can we foster these traits within our organizations and personnel? What tools are you using to encourage and create innovation with your company, organization, or industry at large?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Story of American Aviation

Aviation found me. It found me nearly fifteen years ago, sitting in class at the fire academy. Out of nearly 400 hours of training to become a firefighter in the state of Florida, aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) is covered for about fifteen minutes. But, it was in these few minutes that I knew I wanted to work in the aviation industry, and ARFF specialty field.  My first fire department job out of the academy was indeed an aircraft rescue and firefighting job, a career I continue to enjoy to this day. 

I am proud to be part of the innovative and storied history, and continuing advancements, of the aviation industry. In 1946, Jim Ray, captured this history in his well written and beautifully illustrated book, The Story of American Aviation. Seventy-four years later, it is my privilege to be part of the team that has brought this book back into print. I consider it an honor to have written the foreword to this new edition.

Click to order.

Jim Ray described that his purpose for this book was “to trace the progress of aviation in America and to tell the story of the men and machines that have given this country supremacy in the air.” Those of use who are fortunate enough to work, play, or otherwise be involved in the aviation industry can consider ourselves part of this story, part of the tradition of men from all corners of the world who endured hardships, ridicule, injuries, and even death, to make flight possible. Our work everyday continues this mission!

In the concluding chapter Ray prophetically writes, “As a commercial transport, the airplane will also serve to keep the peace. Commercial airliners will make the world much smaller, and no nation will be a great distance from another. We shall all be able to travel by air to the most far-distant country in a matter of hours. All nations will be closer neighbors, and we shall all have a better understanding of our neighboring nations. The more we visit and mingle with the people of the entire world the more we can help to spread the doctrine of democracy of America. The airplane will play a great part in eliminating the greed and jealousy that breeds war. The young people of today will govern America tomorrow. The airplane will be the vehicle through which they will learn to know the peoples of the world. Through this better understanding America may always be the symbol of peace and prosperity.”

The Story of American Aviation shows us how we started and where we have been, however, this story is still being written. It was only through persistence that the Wright brothers were able to succeed where others had failed. It will be this same persistence that the miracle of flight, extending into space travel, will continue to be improved, developed, and the impossible to experience made possible. The miracle of flight continues its promise to take us ever farther and further!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

What our readers are reading?

A few months ago we conducted our annual reader survey, and the results are in! Though I use the survey to collect data and measure multiple points there are three areas that I am primarily concerned with - what is your #1 challenge and what are the most valuable posts (MVP’s). It is the answer to these two questions that let me know how this blog can better serve your needs.

#1 Challenge:
The primary challenges stated are all related to the topic of education. The educational challenges are related to one of three areas:
  • Codes, standards, and compliance - knowledge and interpretation of current codes and standards, and how to properly apply them for compliance.
  • Fire protection systems - understanding the guidelines, references, and standards for system designs
  • Building owners - educating building owners on codes and standards, and the importance of compliance, and how to achieve buy-in.

The most valuable posts to our readers are ones that provide explanations and details for specific codes and code sections. A good example is these top viewed posts:

Consistent with the above, many readers stated a desire for training products. These products could include webinars, in-person classes, and courses that provide CEU’s. Moving forward we will potentially be developing content, products, services, and opportunities that fill this need.

This reader survey also asked about what other blogs TheCodeCoach.com readers were also reading.  Here’s the top four blogs and sites that were listed:

As always, thank you for being dedicated readers.  I am always open to feedback and requests. Feel free to contact me anytime!