By Fred Durso, Jr.
For NFPA Journal
With more than 130 topics divided into 12 tracks, the education sessions at NFPA’s Conference & Expo provide a veritable smorgasbord of fascinating topics, from a safety makeover of the Statue of Liberty to the demise of landline telephone networks and what it means for alarm signals. Here’s a short list of highlights designed to whet your appetite.
Statue of Liberty: A Fire Risk Analysis
The task seemed monumental: Take a 19th-century structure towering 305 feet (93 meters), implement an assortment of safety improvements that comply with today’s codes and standards, and make sure the upgrades only minimally impact the structure’s historic fabric.
If anyone could endure such rigor, it’s Lady Liberty. Celebrating her 126th birthday this year, she’s withstood the test of time (with the help of a facelift in 1986 for her centennial) and is now undergoing needed repairs and upgrades to her interior. The U.S. National Park Service (NPS), which maintains the monument, has initiated a series of fire and life safety improvements (at an estimated cost of $30 million) in advance of allowing visitors to once again access observation areas in the statue’s pedestal and seven-point crown.
But upgrading such a unique and historic structure wasn’t as simple as following provisions in relevant codes and standards. What actually occurred was a constructive integration of safety and historical preservation—a task that was achieved with assistance from NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®; NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code; and NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems. “It was the goal of the Park Service to make [the monument] as code compliant as possible without losing key historic elements,” says Michael Ferreira, senior engineer at Hughes Associates, the consulting firm that developed a series of recommended improvements to the Statue of Liberty. “One of the unique aspects of this project was that decisions were made with numerous types of stakeholders, not just engineers.”
Ferreira’s colleague, Eric Rosenbaum, will explain how a team of engineers, preservationists, and NPS officials decided on improvements to staircases, elevators, and an alarm system in this beloved landmark while keeping its historical significance intact.
Watch for a feature story in the July/August issue of NFPA Journal that provides further details on the upgrades at the monument, which attracts an estimated 3.5 million visitors annually.
You can see more samples on NFPA.org.