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March 9, 2012 -
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You might be surprised at some of the issues addressed by existing fire safety codes. In a conversation with Robert Solomon, division manager for Building and Life Safety Code at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), he discussed how non-fire emergency movement situations are covered as well by their codes.
For example, NFPA is creating committees to investigate assembly and retail venue accidents, such as the fall accidents at baseball stadiums in 2011 and the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair. On the retail side, there are the scenarios of strange crowd reactions to a "Bieber Fever" phenomenon or Black Friday sales. These create "crowd crush" or "crowd craze."
NFPA codes actually address those types of scenarios, Solomon says. "We're very explicit as to how codes apply to these other non-fire emergencies," he says. Specifically in the case of the State Fair stage collapse, Solomon says, a wind event is a scenario addressed by the life safety code.
The NFPA committees will look at what can be done better in the code or what can be done to better educate on what already exists in the code to prevent these kinds of events, Solomon says.
Especially in the Life Safety Code, there are a lot of provisions dealing with these non-fire emergency situations. The provisions touch on operating features, such as infrastructure to contain or control crowds, crowd management, and metering the number of people coming in.