The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a global self-funded non-profit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission.
In August 2020, a catastrophic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon reportedly killed 190 people, injured 6,500 more, left an estimated 3000,000 residents homeless, and resulted in $10–15 billion(US) in property damage. The media and others turned to NFPA for insights on ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound produced in both solid and liquid form that is commonly used in fertilizers. Pure ammonium nitrate is stable, and when stored properly, it poses few safety hazards. Destabilization, however, can occur when flames or fire heats the ammonium nitrate causing it to become self-reactive and give off gases that are flammable and can ignite. Sadly, the Beirut incident points to an all-too-familiar breakdown in safety. Storing an abundance of fireworks, bypassing code enforcement efforts, allowing unskilled labor to perform hot work in an area where welding and torching should never have taken place, and not keeping local emergency response authorities apprised of what was being stored all point to NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem failures. The Ecosystem is an eight component system that shows that when one or more safety elements are missing or broken, tragedies like we saw in Beirut can occur with devastating implications. Visit the NFPA Booth for information on ammonium nitrate, hot work safety and the Ecosystem. To learn more about NFPA or to find resources that help to protect people, property or responders, visit www.nfpa.org
National Fire Protection Association
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Quincy, Massachusetts 02169-7448