Top Posts of All Time

Today we celebrate 500 posts on! Started in 2009 as a project to educate other fire inspectors and fire prevention personnel, this site now gets 15,000 views per month (plus, many more on LinkedIn and Medium) with an email list of almost 4,000 subscribers. 

Thank you for supporting The Code Coach, through your reading and valuable input!

Top 10 Posts of All Time

  1. Understanding Pre-Action Sprinkler Systems
  2. Eating Your Own Cooking
  3. Building a Kiosk
  4. How to Conduct NFPA 80 Inspections
  6. Fire Sprinkler Design Guide [for AHJ's]
  7. Overwhelmed Fire Inspectors
  8. When Is A Fire Watch Required?
  9. The FPO Effectiveness Tool
  10. NFPA, IBC, and ISO Construction Classifications, in Comparison

Don't Leave It In Vegas - NFPA Conference & Expo 2018

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”,  may be a great slogan for your evening activities, but not for the content of the 2018 annual NFPA Conference and Expo. Every attendee receives valuable knowledge, tools, and resources that they should bring back to their respective fire departments and organizations. Educational sessions, vendors, and networking opportunities abound for all functions and components of fire protection and life safety:
  • Healthcare
  • Fire Service
  • Emergency Management
  • Fire Protection Engineering
  • Fire Protection and Alarm Systems
  • Facilities Management

General sessions featured two speakers that focused on the theme of future innovations. Futurist, Jim Carroll, provided a broad overview of the future of technology, and how that future is already here. He challenged attendees to stay attuned to the world around us and strive for continuous growth and development with the quote, “The future belongs to those who are fast.”

Keller Rinaudo inspired the audience with the accomplishments of his company, Zipline. Zipline is utilizing “futuristic” drone technology to bring life saving medical supplies to the most remote parts of the world. The company is currently in the process of opening its second distribution center which will provide the entire country of Rwanda with readily available blood and medicines.

NFPA President, Jim Pauley, introduced the “fire and life safety ecosystem” concept. The ecosystem is eight elements that must work in harmony to protect people and property. Pauley stated, “We have forgotten that safety is a system – not a singular action, piece of equipment, or event.”

My particular interests led me to presentations on pre-incident planning, human factors and behaviors, risk and resilience, media relations, and training and development.  Two of the most impressive presentations were case studies, one from Uber and the other from Carvana.

In “The eVTOL Revolutions: How the Next Generation of Air Travel Will Impact Fire and Life Safety”, representatives from Uber presented the next phase in their growth strategy and its impact on the fire and life safety industry. Celina Mikolajczak, Director of Engineering, painted a picture of the what Uber plans to do with electric VTOL travel and transportation. Rex Alexander, Head of Aviation Infrastructure, discussed the impact that this new form of public transportation would have on codes, standards, and FAA regulations.

Carvana, the online-only used car dealer, created the innovative concept of the car vending machine.  Their presentation, “Carvana: Performance-Based Design of an Automated Vehicle Storage and Retrieval System” demonstrated how they were able to implement the performance-based design process to create a product that would garner acceptance from a variety of local officials and regulatory agencies.  

The NFPA Conference & Expo is one of the world’s biggest and most comprehensive fire, electrical, and life safety events. It's an opportunity to gain valuable insights, meet with industry experts and learn about new products and solutions.  With 110 knowledge enhancing presentations, several hundred vendors exhibiting in the expo hall, and more than 1,000 attendees to network with, the NFPA Conference and Expo should be the primary event on the fire and life safety professional’s calendar.  

Handouts of the all presentations are available for download from,

Featured New Developments:

Inspectores de Bomberos abrumados

Fuente: Oakland Post  - San Pablo Apartment Fire

El Bay Area News Group publicó recientemente un artículo titulado, “Quemado: Cómo los abrumados inspectores de bomberos nos protegen. Este es un informe de investigación que detalla cómo los departamentos de bomberos del área de la bahía de California no están logrando los requerimientos anuales de inspección de incendios. Este artículo muestra las deficiencias de los organismos de prevención de incendios y pide respuestas a los oficiales de bomberos locales.

Los autores del artículo analizaron las estadísticas de un período de ocho años y muestran
que las inspecciones anuales requeridas en las escuelas K-12 (nota del traductor: desde
Kinder hasta grado 12) y en las propiedades residenciales multifamiliares no se llevan a cabo. Varios departamentos de bomberos admiten que ni siquiera saben dónde están estas propiedades o cuántas existen en su jurisdicción. Estas brechas en las inspecciones se atribuyen a los bajos niveles del personal y a los inadecuados sistemas de recopilación de datos. Estos dos elementos críticos conducen fácilmente a "departamentos de bomberos abrumados y a menudo desorganizados". Un Fire Marshal (Inspector de Bomberos)  afirma que los hallazgos en este informe de investigación revelan "una falla sistemática de los programas de inspección en su departamento y en otros".

Este es un artículo importante para que todos los inspectores de incendios lean: →

El libro “Fire Prevention Blueprint: Seven Disciplines for Building Effective
Fire Prevention Organizations”, (disponible en, aborda estos problemas y proporciona siete disciplinas que los departamentos de prevención y seguridad de los cuerpos de bomberos deben implementar para lograr un rendimiento eficaz y eficiente.

Las siete disciplinas descritas en el Fire Prevention Blueprint, están estructuradas para
ayudar a los departamentos de bomberos a evitar el abatimiento y crear un camino claro
de acción para sus organizaciones en la prevención de incendios.

Disciplina # 1: Conocer a la comunidad.
Disciplina # 2: Tener un plan.
Disciplina # 3: Hacer cumplir los códigos (normatividad).
Disciplina # 4: Realizar revisión del plan e inspecciones de campo.
Disciplina # 5: Investigar incidentes de fuego.
Disciplina # 6: Educar al público.
Disciplina # 7: Tener el personal adecuado.

Puede utilizar nuestra herramienta "FPO Effectiveness Tool"
para evaluar dónde se encuentra su institución y qué áreas deben mejorarse para lograr la
máxima efectividad.

Autor:  Aaron Johnson
Traducido por:  Fernando Castillo, Colombia

Overwhelmed Fire Inspectors

San Pablo Apartment Fire - Oakland Post
The Bay Area News Group recently published an article entitled, “Burned Out: How Overwhelmed Fire Inspectors Fail to Protect Us.”  This is an investigative report that details how California’s Bay Area fire departments are not achieving annual fire inspection requirements.  This article shows the deficiencies of the fire prevention organizations and calls for answers from the local fire officials.

The article’s authors looked at statistics over an eight year period, and show that annual required inspections in K-12 schools and multi-family residential properties are failing to be conducted. Several departments admit to not even knowing where these properties are or how many exist in their jurisdiction.  These inspection gaps are blamed on low staffing levels, and inadequate data collection systems. These two critical elements easily lead to “overwhelmed and often disorganized fire departments”. One Fire Marshal states that the findings in this investigative report reveal “a systematic failure of inspection programs in his and other departments”.

This is an important article for all fire inspectors to read →

Fire Prevention Blueprint: Seven Disciplines for Building Effective Fire Prevention Organizations addresses these issues and provides seven disciplines fire prevention organizations need to implement for effective and efficient performance.

The seven disciplines outlined in the Fire Prevention Blueprint are structured to help fire departments prevent overwhelm and create a clear path of action for their fire prevention organizations.

Discipline #1: Know the community.
Discipline #2:  Have a plan.
Discipline #3:  Enforce the code.
Discipline #4: Conduct plan review and field inspections.
Discipline #5:  Investigate fire incidents.
Discipline #6:  Educate the public.
Discipline #7:  Be adequately staffed.

You can utilize our "FPO Effectiveness Tool" to assess where your organization is, and what areas need to be improved on to achieve maximum effectiveness.

More about the Fire Prevention Blueprint:

When Is A Fire Watch Required

The Fire Code (NFPA 1) provides the authority to require standby and firewatch personnel to the AHJ.  Standby and fire watch personnel can be required “when potentially hazardous conditions or a reduction in a life safety feature exist”. Section 1.7.17 provides an exemplary list of situations in which this may occur, and clearly states the cost of these personnel is not to be incurred by the AHJ.

Though this section provides the blanket statement allowing AHJ’s to require a standby or firewatch personnel there are eight situations  within the fire code where the requirement for a standby or firewatch is expressly stated.

  • Special outdoor events, carnivals and fairs. Section 10.14.4 states, “where required by the AHJ, standby fire personnel shall be provided…”
  • As part of a fire protection system impairment plan, for systems that will be out-of-service for more than 10 hours within a 24-hour period, a fire watch is one of the options that can be required to adjust for the increased fire risk. []
  • Facilities with impaired or chronic nuisance prone fire alarm systems. Chronic nuisance alarms are defined as those that produce “5 or more nuisance alarms within a 365-day period”. []
  • During building demolition operations and at hazardous demolition sites. [16.5.4]. Section 16.2.2 requires construction sites utilizing trash chutes to submit a safety plan to the AHJ. A component of this safety plan is fire watch personnel.  This can be found in the Annex, and refers the reader to NFPA 241.
  • Fire watch and standby personnel can be required in any assembly occupancy []. The annex section provides guidance as to what specific types of assembly occupancies a fire watch may want to be implemented, “such locations would include...the spaces underneath grandstands and the areas inside and outside tents and air-supported structures”. [25.1.8]
  • Soundstages and motion picture production facilities when pyrotechnics are being used or during other hazardous operations and activities require firewatch and standby personnel. [32.4.4/32.5.4]
  • For storage occupancies, section states that a fire watch “shall” be required whenever the sprinkler system is out-of-service. Additionally, anytime hot work (cutting, welding, soldering, brazing, etc) is being conducted, a fire watch must be in place. []
  • A fire watch is required during hot work operations in which combustible materials, or wall openings are within 35 feet of the work area, or if the material is greater than 35 feet but easily ignited by sparks. [41.3.5]
The following list represents a compilation of fire watch personnel responsibilities and requirements.  These are listed throughout the various code areas and annex sections.

Fire watch personnel shall:

  • Be properly trained on their specific duties and responsibilities
  • Be equipped with fire extinguishers or extinguishing equipment
  • Have emergency services and fire department notification capabilities
  • Be assigned no other duties, fire watch only
  • Continuously patrol the affected area
  • Remain on-site throughout duration of the work and up to 2 hours upon completion of work
  • Detect and document the presence, or lack of, fire
  • Confirm other systems and egress are functioning properly
  • Prevent accumulation of flammable materials
  • Maintain work area in fire-safe condition
  • Possess authority to stop work if unsafe

Orr Protection has created a great toolkit for conducting a fire watch. This free download includes, standard fire watch rules and patrol patterns, a fire watch log, and a complete checklist for personnel and responsibilities.

Access the Orr Protection Fire Watch Toolkit here -->