Safeguarding the Past and Preparing for the Future: Why Lightning Protection is Important for Historic Structures

Historic structures possess unique characteristics that typically require elevated levels of scrutiny for insurance, safety, building maintenance and risk management. These thorough levels of examination can delve even deeper depending upon whether the structure is a “certified historic rehabilitation” (eligible for tax credits) or a recognized historic landmark that is a designated part of a property, building or locality.

Anyone who has ever owned, managed, maintained or worked on or around a historic building can appreciate the litany of factors involved when it comes to preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation of these properties. It’s not just age that makes these buildings more expensive to replace or repair after damage has occurred; it’s more typically the design, construction and building components found in historic structures that make them more vulnerable to damage—especially by fire. And as we know, a single bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy, making the threat of fire from a direct strike or indirect surge, a serious concern for historic buildings and landmarks.

For property stakeholders concerned about lightning, the National Park Service has released a Lightning Protection Preservation Brief, written by Charles E. Fisher, which graciously references acknowledgements to several LPI members and LPI member companies who contributed information and materials. The 20-page, illustrated document provides lightning protection system (LPS) guidance for property owners and trades involved in the preservation of historic structures. Although lightning protection isn’t necessarily a mandatory requirement just because a building is historic, the brief includes a clear reminder regarding the role of lightning protection for these structures: “As an irreplaceable cultural resource, historic structures at risk of damage or loss from a lightning strike merit protection.”

Safety standard-compliant lightning protection systems are often included in renovations of historic properties to help safeguard these irreplaceable structures from a leading weather threat.

LPI-certified lightning protection specialists can meet the special considerations needed for working on your historic structure or landmark.

Just a single lightning strike can eradicate the heritage and cultural value of an unprotected landmark in an instant; making a sound argument for risk prevention against this common weather hazard.

The document also features a wealth of lightning protection information, including detailed reference sections for the following:

* Maintenance and repair of historic and older LPS

* Inspection and evaluation of LPS on historic properties

* Factors to consider when assessing need for LPS

* Historic preservation guidance re: design/installation of new LPS

* LPS and re-roofing concerns for historic structures

* Historical information re: LPS codes and standards

* Spotlight case studies of historical properties

Since lightning makes no distinction between new or old construction, lightning protection should be a serious consideration in terms of risk management and insurance for all structures—but especially for historic buildings, where irreplaceable items, heritage and cultural values could be eradicated in a fraction of a second, if lightning were to strike.

Agenda Set for 86th Annual Lightning Protection Conference in Singer Island, FL!

The AGENDA is set and registration is underway for the 86th Annual ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa on February 28 – March 3, 2018. You won’t want to miss the exciting speaker lineup, workshops and conference programs planned for attendees and guests.
The conference is just around the corner, so be sure to book your rooms NOW, as the hotel is completely booked up outside of our group reservation block which closes on January 22, 2018. Our friends at LPI member company, Bonded Lightning Protection of Florida will serve as our industry host for the annual meeting. The 2018 conference programs will include:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
* Industry Updates & Reports
* Education & Speaker Sessions
* Breakout Workshops for Professional Development
* LPI Certification & Testing Sessions
* Networking Opportunities
* Golfing & Social Events
The deadline for rooms and registration is January 22, 2018, so be sure to REGISTER and book your HOTEL RESERVATIONS ASAP!
Details for the annual golfing outing can be found HERE.

Is it Time to Inject a Little Lightning into the Big Weather Discussion?

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré was one of the “big weather” voices at last month’s National Disaster Resilience Conference in Atlanta.

The road to building for resilience is paved with many guideposts designed to promote mitigation measures for weather perils like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires. Perils rightfully referred to as “big weather” at last month’s National Disaster Resilience Conference (NDRC) 2017 in Atlanta. Hosted by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the NDRC signaled FLASH’s 19th year of bringing disaster safety stakeholders together to advance a shared movement to strengthen homes and safeguard families from disasters of all kinds.

In an opening address that set the tone for the big weather deliberations, FLASH President and CEO, Leslie Chapman-Henderson, prepped NDRC participants for a two-day journey with a road map for partner interaction, knowledge exchange and innovative collaboration. Armed with ammo, safety stakeholders hailing from organizations such as ICC, BASF, USAA, ISO and AIA, converged to help Chapman-Henderson steer the conference course. Serving as disaster safety co-pilots, the collective partner organizations helped facilitate programs, panels, and exhibits designed to examine various impacts of big weather. Hearty discussions delved into innovative developments in science, economics, policy, design and construction—trends that are driving resilience. On the heels of an especially rocky and tempestuous disaster season, NDRC’s focus on big weather could not have been timelier.

While probing both challenges and innovations associated with big weather, I couldn’t help but think about lightning and reflect on the hard-earned advancements that LPI and its partners have made in the realm of lightning safety and lightning protection education. And naturally, as an advocate for lightning safety awareness, I couldn’t help but inject a little lightning into the big conversations at NDRC, whenever appropriate.

With the U.S. experiencing more than 40 million lightning strikes each year, it’s no surprise that lightning is a year-round concern for U.S. homes and businesses. In fact, in terms of overall losses, lightning has been known to outrank destruction caused by caused by floods, fires, explosions, earthquakes and vandalism. Just a snapshot of recent events depicting loss of lifedamaged homesloss of businessdamaged infrastructureand widespread property devastation provides a striking glimpse into lightning’s lingering impact. Perhaps more alarming, are recent reports from scientists predicting significant increases in lightning activity.

When we consider that lightning is already the weather peril that affects most of the people, most of the time, doesn’t it deserve a little of the big weather spotlight? With predictions for increased lightning in the mix, wouldn’t it be great if more mitigation partners got out in front of lightning to help promote risk reduction efforts? (HINT: increased insurance incentives for lightning protection systems and expanded risk assessment measures for lightning in the building code development process are two immediate areas where partners can lend support to help move the risk reduction needle.)

LPI shared “Build and Protect – A Blueprint for Architects and Engineers” brochures with NDRC attendees, as a conference literature sponsor.

With a record-breaking disaster season in the rear view mirror, mitigation partners in the realms of science, insurance, policy, and construction are preparing to take their places on the field of weather risk reduction for 2018 and beyond. So, as we huddle for the game play, let’s not forget about lightning! And while we can’t prevent lightning from striking, we can prepare for future events by working to change attitudes about lightning safety and lightning protection. We already know from our successes that education, and preparation are key in reducing lightning deaths, injuries and property losses.

Perhaps retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, said it best while rallying the NDRC troops to action last month. In a short, yet powerful keynote speech, the acknowledged commander of the disaster mitigation movement and author of Leadership in the New Normal, appropriately called the closing play for the Atlanta conference. True to classic Honoré form, the big weather voice got down to brass tacks with a simple reminder: “Prep is the pre-game show.”

So, whether the weather be hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires or LIGHTNING, when we huddle for mitigation and resilience, let’s heed the General’s command and always remember the “prep!”

Make Plans to Attend the 2018 ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference!

Registration is open for the 86th Annual ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa on February 28 – March 3, 2018.

LPI member company, Bonded Lightning Protection of Florida will serve as our industry host for the annual meeting, which will feature:
  • * Industry Updates & Reports
  • * Education & Speaker Sessions
  • * Breakout Workshops for Professional Development
  • * LPI Certification & Testing Sessions
  • * Networking Opportunities
  • * Golfing & Social Events
The deadline for rooms and registration is January 22, 2018, so be sure to REGISTER and book your HOTEL RESERVATIONS ASAP!
Details for the annual golfing outing can be found HERE.
What: 86th Annual ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference
When: February 28 – March 3, 2018
Where: The Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa 
How: Toll-Free Reservation Center: 1-877-239-5610. Please mention booking code: “ULPA LPI Conference” when making reservations.

Interested in being a Conference sponsor? Due to overwhelming industry response, the United Lightning Protection Association (ULPA) is once again offering sponsorship opportunities for this year’s Conference. Sponsorship opportunities start at just $250 and provide a great way to put your company name in the spotlight at the industry’s largest annual event. Want to see your company featured at the 2018 Conference?  Your industry colleagues are reserving their commitment levels lightning-fast, so be sure to

SIGN-UP today to reserve your preferred sponsorship spot!

Visit the LPI Booth at the Critical Facilities Summit!

Headed to Minneapolis this month? Be sure to join LPI at the 5th annual Critical Facilities Summit, an Expo that brings the best of the mission critical community together for three days of unbeatable networking, education and product discovery! The Summit is designed for senior-level professionals responsible for the design, construction, management and operations of all mission critical facilities. Both the Expo and the Summit are conveniently located at the Minneapolis Convention Center, which is in the vibrant downtown area near many of the city’s top restaurants and attractions. For more details and information, visit the Summit website at www.criticalfacilitiessummit.com

What: Critical Facilities Summit

Where: LPI Booth #326 at the Minneapolis Convention Center

When: October 23-25, 2017

 

 

 

 

What Homeowners Need to Know about Lightning and its Fire Risk

In Support of National Fire Prevention Week, October 8-14 

This past summer, lightning-sparked fires claimed the lives of homeowners in several U.S. states. Fortunately, property owners can prevent these tragic fires with the installation of a professionally-installed, NFPA 780 compliant lightning protection system (LPS).

It’s the middle of the night when you and your family are awakened by a loud boom of a thunder-clap. Your windows rattle as you feel your house shake. Your instincts tell you your home has been struck by lightning, but what should you do?

“Anyone who suspects a lightning strike to their home should immediately check their enclosed spaces, like the attic and basement—even if the smoke alarm isn’t sounding and even if you don’t smell smoke,” said Georgia State Fire Marshal, Dwayne Garriss.

According to Garriss, lightning-sparked fires occur more often than people realize. Because lightning is the weather event that affects most people in most parts of the country, it’s important for homeowners to take the threat seriously and have a plan of action.

A lingering acrid smell or fallen debris from damaged chimneys or shingles can be evidence of a lightning strike,” explained Garriss. “Since lightning fires aren’t always visible in their beginning stages, it’s important to investigate your property and call the fire department immediately.”

“Lightning is extreme electricity that can carry up to 300 million volts of energy,” said Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). “When you compare lightning with an average household electrical current of 120 volts and 15 amps, you understand how devastating a lightning strike can be to an unprotected home.”

This past summer, lightning-sparked fires claimed the lives of homeowners and senior citizens in several U.S. states, including: New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Since it only takes a single lightning strike to ignite a devastating fire, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), created a new infographic to illustrate the numerous ways lightning can enter a home, including:

  • Through a direct strike that can ignite fires or explode roofing, brick or concrete
  • Via roof projections like weather vanes, antennas and satellite dishes
  • Through a strike to a chimney or prominent roof dormer
  • Via telephone or power lines that can harm internal wiring and electronic equipment
  • Via surges or side flash delivered through a nearby tree
  • Through home systems like garage doors or cable lines
  • Via home amenities like irrigation systems, invisible fences and electric gates
  • Through metallic lines, piping or CSST gas piping

The I.I.I. and LPI encourage property owners to investigate the benefits of a professionally-installed lightning protection system (LPS) to mitigate the lightning threat. Lightning protection systems that follow the guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provide a network of low-resistance paths to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants.

LPI is a proud supporter of the NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, October 8-14, 2017. This year’s campaign theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” seeks to educate the public about the importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. In any fire, including those sparked by lightning, seconds count and can determine the difference between a safe escape or a tragedy.

“LPI is leading a ‘Build and Protect’ effort for lightning safety by providing important lightning protection resources for property owners, architects, engineers and construction planners,” explained VanSickle. “Taking a proactive mitigation approach can help prevent lightning-sparked fires at all types of structures.”

To learn more about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out” and home escape planning, visit firepreventionweek.org.

LPI is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.

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Save the Date! Plans underway for the 2018 LPI/ULPA Lightning Protection Conference!

The 86th annual industry conference, scheduled for February 27 – March 2, 2018, will feature educational sessions, professional development, networking opportunities, golfing, social events and much more! LPI members, Pat Dillon and Kim Stauder of Bonded Lightning Protection in Jupiter, FL, will once again serve as conference hosts at one of our favorite destinations; the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa.

Mark your calendars and stay tuned to the LPI website for more conference news and updates coming soon!

ESFI and LPI Warn of Lightning’s Lingering and Costly Threat to Property Owners

ARLINGTON, Va.Sept. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With the Atlantic Hurricane Season in full swing through November, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) are working to spread awareness of a less recognized, yet more frequent weather hazard: lightning. According to new data compiled by Impact Forecasting and released by the Insurance Information Institute (III), U.S. insurance and reinsurance markets saw record costs from thunderstorms and convective weather; with 5.7 billion losses cited in the first-quarter of 2017. 

“Lightning is a real danger to you, your home, and your electronics that many people don’t take seriously,” said ESFI President, Brett Brenner. “A single bolt of lightning can cause electrical surges capable of damaging or destroying sensitive equipment. Luckily, you can prepare your home and protect your electronics from this unpredictable, yet common hazard.”

With severe weather, hurricanes, and thunderstorms still prevalent in fall months, ESFI reminds the public to protect their property by unplugging appliances and other electrical items, such as computers and televisions, to prevent damage from surges caused by lightning strikes. Point-of-use surge protection devices can help prevent damage to your electronics, but can’t safeguard against a direct lightning strike, which can carry as much as 300 million volts of electricity and 30,000 amps. If you live in an area prone to lightning, consider a lightning protection system (LPS).

“When you compare lightning’s mega electricity with a typical household electrical current of 120 volts and 15 amps, you understand how devastating a lightning strike can be to an unprotected home,” explained Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). “Fortunately, home and business owners needn’t take their chances with lightning, as a professionally-installed LPS that follows national safety standards can prevent damage by providing a safe electrical path into the earth for lightning’s destructive energy.”

Safety Standard-compliant LPS is a package approach which includes a system to ground the structure, a primary SPD (or SPD’s) for the service entrance and sometimes secondary surge protection at the point of use for high-end equipment or appliances. The LPS provides a network of low-resistance paths to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants. When lightning’s electricity is confined to a properly designed conductive path via the LPS, damage is minimized or eliminated. When considering lightning protection, LPI emphasizes the importance of contracting with a qualified and experienced LPI-certified specialist, as the technology is a specialty trade and expertise is required for system design and installation.

About the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) warns consumers to be aware of electrical dangers associated with severe storms and the resulting floods and power outages. Deaths and injuries during the summer months are frequently caused by post-storm electrical hazards. ESFI is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety. For more information about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.esfi.org.

About the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI)
LPI is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection and system requirements.  Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.

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SOURCE Lightning Protection Institute

Why does it take epic devastation to remind us of nature’s wrath and how helpless we are when it decides to take us on its terrifying course?

How do we begin to share a post about lightning in the midst of an epic weather event like Hurricane Harvey? As images of Harvey’s devastation are even difficult to view, we can’t begin to imagine how painful the reality of the hardship is for so many to bear. Dear people of Texas–including many of our LPI lightning protection member companies–our thoughts are with you today. Please know that your LPI friends are hoping and praying for your swift relief and rapid recovery.

When we reflect on hurricanes, memories take us back to Katrina and the massive suffering that settled on New Orleans and its surrounding areas. Then, we remember a tempest with winds that etched images of incredible devastation, which remain forever-fixed in our memories.

It was August of 1992, when Hurricane Andrew bore down and unleashed its wrath on South Florida. The monster storm’s effects would be far-reaching with massive devastation that unmasked serious deficiencies in the state’s building and construction practices. Every obliterated home (over 25,000 destroyed and another 100,000 + damaged), and every shattered life (a statistic we’ll never know), echoed the need for change. And change took hold; igniting a spirit of revitalization that gave birth to an energized disaster safety movement—one with a mission to make communities safer and more resilient.

A strengthening of building codes and construction practices to improve resiliency for homes to withstand flood and wind hazards meant quicker recovery and less reliance on federal tax dollars. A good thing, indeed! And as property owners also embraced ideals of green building and sustainability, construction planners took notice and began to design and deliver more options for “fortified” structures. (Shout-out to LPI partners at IBHS and Federal Alliance for Safe Homes–FLASH, for your good work, here!)

Fortifying homes and businesses to withstand hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires certainly makes sense, which is why protection against rain, wind, flood and fire is routinely included in our construction models and building codes. But what about lightning? After all, lightning is the weather peril that affects most people, most of the time, in the most areas of the country. Why is it that lightning remains the only naturally-occurring hazard to be ignored in the vast majority of U.S. building codes?

It’s hard to believe that even a state like Florida, where thunderstorms occur more often and do more harm than other weather disasters—has limited codes in place to address lightning. Is the fact that lightning is so common place, contributing to a complacency about its dangers?

When you consider the fact that safe, effective and affordable protection is available for lightning (unlike other significant weather threats) with proven Standard-compliant lightning protection systems (LPS), it just doesn’t make sense to keep ignoring an obvious threat! Especially when we see scientific reports like those authored by IEEE, NFPA or NOAA. For example, a 2013 IEEE abstract: “Residential Lightning Fires in the USA: An Overview”, cites lightning as responsible for an “estimated 6000 home fires in the U.S. each year; fires that are responsible for loss of life, injury and serious damage or destruction of home dwellings.” This study also points out, that while the “incidence of residential fires from all other causes has fallen dramatically over the past 30 years, lightning fires have increased in number.”

Fast forward to 2017 and what’s changed? Well, in a nutshell, more reports of lightning losses, and more forecasts for increased activity in upcoming years. Unfortunately, something which hasn’t changed is much-needed progress within the building code process to recognize a proven cost benefit analysis of LPS.

So, is it apathy about lightning, or attitudes about lightning protection that need to change? Either way, we can’t prevent lightning from striking. To quote author, Steven King, “Money can’t buy off the lightning.” On the heels of setbacks in recent industry efforts to improve safety and reduce lightning losses through various code processes, this quote may be especially ironic. And perhaps a bit prophetic, too, when you consider reports of record lightning losses for 2017 and scientific predictions for increased activity.

Sometimes, in this world (including in the world of lightning protection), we’re forced to accept the things we cannot change and just let nature take its course. But, whether it be ill-informed building code decisions or the uncanny wrath of Mother Nature, we can’t let obstacles prevent us from working harder and smarter to further the things we can control–things like education, awareness and enlightenment.

It’s called resilience. And you can’t put a price tag on that.

Join LPI and the CE Academy for an Enlightening Day of Continuing Education and Networking in a City Near You!

Looking to learn more about LPS Continuing Education in a Lunch & Learn setting? The LPI is partnering with the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA) and the CE Academy to bring the Lightning Protection 101 (LSA 101) course to your doorstep!

ce academy

In each one day event, the CE Academy provides 4-8 hours of AIA-registered CE courses, including breakfast and lunch! For your convenience, the CE Academy also issues certificates of completion and reports AIA credits for every event. The LSA 101 Lightning Protection session is a one-hour course which includes a review of proper lightning protection system design and application as conforming with NFPA and UL lightning protection requirements.  LSA 101 participants receive (1) AIA HSW /LU credit.

The CE Academy has one remaining LSA 101 session for 2017:
December 12, 2017  –  Austin, TX

LSA 101 providers have have extensive knowledge of lightning protection methods and are actively involved in the lightning protection industry and its trade associations. Learning Objectives of the LSA 101 course include:

  1. Participants will gain a general understanding of how lightning protection systems work including the five essential elements of effective lightning protection systems.
  2. At the end of the program participants will be aware of the considerations that should be made during project planning to specify effective, attractive and low-maintenance lightning protection systems for all types of structures.
  3. Provide project planners with a general understanding of lightning protection systems.
  4. Make planners aware of the five (5) essential elements of a lightning protection system.
  5. Identify the areas planners should consider when specifying lightning protection systems.
 Discounts are available for early registration, so visit the CE Academy website today for information about events, fees and program agendas.  For more information about the LSA 101 program, visit the Lightning Safety Alliance.