Are Churches Attracting More Lightning Than Sinners? How protection SYSTEMS can prevent losses?

Steeple only grounding does not typically protect a structure from lightning, and single point or partial LPS do not comply with lightning protection safety Standards.There’s an old saying many lightning protection professionals are familiar with, that you may have heard it before, “Churches attract more lightning than sinners.”  While the saying is meant in jest, there is quite a bit of evidence that lightning causes a lot of headaches for churches–especially when we consider the fact that churches are spending millions of dollars each year on property damage due to lightning fires.

Fire is just part of the cost equation and doesn’t include damages caused by electrical surges that can disrupt and destroy wiring, computers, sound systems, alarm systems and electronics. Just last week, video from a security camera captured a massive lightning strike to a church in Ellijay, GA. The strike blew a hole in the church’s roof and sent an explosion of brick, wood and building debris into the early morning sky. A church spokesperson estimated that repairs to replace the damaged roof, and electrical equipment will cost at least $30,000 to restore. The video of the Ellijay church also helps illustrate three important concepts about lightning and lightning protection systems (LPS):

1) Lightning protection doesn’t attract lightning (the church steeple was equipped with a single lightning rod), but the lightning strike hit the roof at the opposite side of the structure.

2) Steeple only grounding doesn’t equate as a lightning protection system when it comes to protecting an entire structure.

3) Since lightning can and does (as shown in this video) strike objects outside of a “zone of protection,” steeple only grounding is not based on sound engineering principles or science. Engineers and building designers frequently refer to the rolling sphere method to determine where lightning protection components are required on a structure. (Zone of protection is explained in the NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems and the rolling sphere method has been illustrated as a graphic.)

The above points help emphasize that steeple only grounding does not typically protect an entire structure, which is why partial LPS methods do not comply with NFPA 780. In fact, many experts warn that installation of partial lightning protection, designed to ground a steeple, cupola or weathervane, could be more dangerous than providing no protection at all. A single path to ground is not adequate to conduct the current involved with a lightning discharge. When lightning strikes a partial “system” (such as a grounded cupola, steeple or single point mast), side-flash to other conductive components on or in a structure can also occur. This side-flashing can damage building wiring, computer systems and electronics and even ignite fires. There’s no safe way to provide proper grounding from a punch that can pack up to 300 million volts of electricity and 30,000 amps–which is why all elements (strike termination devices, down conductors, bonding, grounding and surge protection) are essential for complete and effective LPS.

Reasons why churches are specifying lightning protection now more than ever before include:

• Insurers now require higher levels of safety for public venues such as churches, which often includes the installation of a LPS.

• Studies from the American Geophysical Union confirm that conventional lightning protection systems, in accordance with NFPA 780 Safety Standard, are highly effective in reducing lightning-caused fires and electrical surge damage to churches.

• Lightning protection systems do not attract lightning, but simply provide a preferred path of low resistance to dissipate lightning’s electricity.

• Lightning is a leading cause of church fires; estimated as responsible for 30% of such fires in the U.S.

• Lightning protection systems direct lightning’s harmful current to ground, instead of traveling through the building’s plumbing or electrical systems.

So when in doubt about LPS, a trained, LPI-certified lightning specialist is your best point of reference to ensure that your installation includes all components necessary to protect your facility.

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) conducts numerous educational, promotional and quality oriented programs on lightning protection and lightning safety and is the leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. Visit the LPI website or download a copy of LPI’s brochure to learn more about LPS for churches and houses of worship. 

Is Your Lightning Protection System Missing a Key Component? (Hint: Inspection!)

Intertek’s LPI-IP inspector surveys a newly-installed lightning protection system for a Department of Transportation equipment warehouse in Virginia.

The LPI-IP inspector confirms the required LPS interconnection between a grounded building system and continuous metallic piping system.

The LPI-IP inspector reviews concealed cable conductors within the structure’s walls and attic spaces.

Wondering if your LPS design or installation meets industry guidelines and requirements? Not sure if your project specifications comply with nationally-recognized safety Standards? A third-party quality control inspection is your key to quality assurance. 

While experts agree that quality control is a key component for safe and effective lightning protection, knowing where to turn for up-to-date and accurate lightning protection information can be difficult. And with quality control concerns increasing in the construction marketplace, best practices for lightning protection system (LPS) specification, design and installation are more important than ever before.

Why LPS Inspection is an important component in the “Build & Protect” process
A single bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of destructive electric current, making lightning protection an important amenity for designers seeking to Build & Protect against a leading weather threat that’s responsible for over a billion dollars in property damage every year. Most of lightning-related property losses can be minimized, if not eliminated, through the implementation of safety Standard-compliant LPS for structures. Third-party inspection can identify the LPS oversights, improper materials or methods, issues with Standard compliance and the need for repairs or recommended maintenance. The Lightning Protection Institute Inspection Program (LPI-IP) provides a lightning protection inspection and certification service more thorough and more complete than any previous inspection program from the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) or any other service currently on the market. By incorporating checkpoints, reviews and inspections, the LPI-IP certification program ensures safety and peace of mind to building owners about the U.S.

“The value received from a lightning protection system begins with proper design, continues through quality installation practices and must include inspection and certification,” explained Bud VanSickle, executive director for LPI. “The LPI-IP program responds to the designer’s ultimate ‘Build & Protect’ lightning protection goal to provide safety, security of investment and elimination of potential system downtime. The program was created to provide the most complete inspection service for LPS in terms of safety, quality control and professionalism,” added VanSickle.

Key Components of the LPI-IP Inspection Program

  • LPI-IP keeps pace with technology by providing system certifications with a three-year expiration date to complement the NFPA 780 three-year code review cycle and process.
  • LPI-IP is serving a growing need for property owners, designers, architects and builders as a comprehensive third-party inspection approach for commercial and residential projects.
  • LPI-IP inspections are accepted in MasterSpec as a quality control inspection option for lightning protection.
  • LPI-IP services include design review by a professional engineer, documentation of concealed components and verification of grounding and NRTL* field inspection of rooftop LPS.
  • LPI-IP enjoys recognition by the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), with services reported in press releases and industry communications.
  • LPI-IP provides three different types of certifications and inspection options (LPI-IP Master Installation, LPI-IP Reconditioned Master Installation and LPI-IP Limited Scope) to address any type of project.
  • LPI-IP offers users the option of Standard specific inspections (LPI175, NFPA 780 and/or UL96A), to accommodate market needs and a wider range of projects.
  • Unlike other inspection services in the market, LPI-IP does not provide certification for unconventional or non-Standard LPS methods or devices. For your safety and quality assurance, LPI-IP only recognizes systems which comply with Nationally-recognized safety Standards.
  • LPI-IP is the industry’s fastest growing lightning protection inspection service, with a 300% growth rate since 2011.

LPI-IP inspection and certification services provide peace of mind to ensure materials and methods comply with recommended practices and industry safety Standards. For more information about the LPI-IP Program, visit www.lpi-ip.com or contact:

Tim Harger, LPI-IP Program Manager, 14048 W. Petronella Drive, Suite 104, Libertyville, Illinois  60048, Phone: 224-433-6680, info@lpi-ip.com

For additional information about LPI and lightning protection, visit www.lightning.org.

*Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory

 

Florida Homeowners Urged to Take Advantage of Lightning Protection Mitigation Credits

The Florida Green Home Standard Reference Guide was developed by the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) in 2004 to share information on green home practices and provide details on how to earn points for complying with the Florida Green Home Designation Standard. florida-green-home-building-coalition

To help mitigate the significant threat that lightning poses, the FGBC now includes credits for lightning protection to provide incentives for homeowners looking to install these systems. The mitigation intent is explained in the 2015 edition of the Guide:

Florida is the lightning capital of the US. The number one cause of house fires in our state is lightning. The cost of a lightning protection system can be less than an LCD TV and increases the home’s protection from wildfires and reduces the amount of damaged electronic equipment ending up in the landfill. No electrical protection system is considered 100% effective; however, a lightning protection system can stop a direct hit, making it the most effective form of fire and electrical protection.”

The FGBC Green Home Standard cites credit requirements for Lightning Protection and Surge Protection as follows:          

Requirement: Lightning Protection: A lightning protection system must be installed by a UL and LPI (Lighting Protection Institute) certified company. The company needs to be listed on the LPI site as a dealer/contractor, not simply as a member.

 Surge Protection System: The surge protection devices (SPD) that include phone, coax when appropriate, and a whole house protection device installed per manufacturer’s instructions either inside or outside where the electrical utility enters the home. The SPD should be stamped with an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label to verify the unit meets the latest safety standards. If installed outdoors the unit should be Type 1 listed by UL, and if installed indoors the unit should be listed either Type 1 or Type 2.                 

  • Type 1- These are permanently connected SPDs intended for installation between the secondary of the service transformer and the line side of the service equipment overcurrent device as well as the load side (including watthour meter adapters). Previously known as surge arresters, these devices are intended to be installed without an external overcurrent protective device. 
  • Type 2-These are permanently connected SPDs intended for installation on the load side of the service equipment overcurrent device, including SPDs located at the branch panel.

Denoting that credits are specific to an “individual unit” rather than multi-family, the FGBC allots credit points for LPS as follows:

“1 point for Surge Protection”

“2 Points for Lightning Protection”

Since a typical bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy, the threat of fire from a direct or indirect electrical surge to homes and businesses is very real. A lightning protection system is an important consideration for inclusion in the “build and protect” design process. For architects, engineers and designers interested in learning more about lightning protection, LPI has resources to share.

Unfortunately, even though lightning is the weather threat that affects most people, most of the time in Florida and throughout the U.S. as well, it seems that many homeowners may not be taking advantage of this credit-worthy mitigation tactic.

“Lightning protection is included in the FGBC checkpoints, but to-date I haven’t seen anyone submit LPS to earn points for compliance with the Florida Green Home Designation Standard.” said research architect, Stephanie Thomas-Rees.

According to Thomas-Rees, a lack of action on the part of homeowners, could be due to a “lack of understanding about the cost-effectiveness of lightning protection systems.”

Thomas-Rees, who serves on the FGBC Board, is also an Adjunct Professor at Dayton State College and a proponent of continuing education.

“Lunch and Learns are a great way for architects to learn more about building amenities and green home practices like lightning protection,” Thomas-Rees explained.

Architects and engineers who are seeking to learn more about lightning protection Continuing Education in a Lunch and Learn setting, can contact LPI for assistance, or visit the Lightning Safety Alliance website for information about its AIA Registered “Lightning Protection 101” (LSA 101) program. For more information about green building practices for homeowners, visit: www.FloridaGreenBuilding.org.

Lightning Protection for Lightning Safe Homeowner Association Communities

Considering disaster-resiliency measures for your home? What to do when HOA’s omit guidelines for LPS and other eco-friendly amenities.

How Homeowners can Enlighten HOA’s about System Benefits

Awareness about the dangers of lightning to people and property has significantly increased since the National Weather Service began its annual safety campaign in 2001. With consumer organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) citing a demonstrated track record of lightning protection systems (LPS) in helping to reduce property losses, more and more homeowners are examining the cost benefits of LPS. While LPS provide security, increased building resiliency and peace of mind against a common weather peril, not every homeowner’s association (HOA) may have a clear understanding of these systems and the benefits they provide. Although homeowners should expect to be able to have LPS installed on their property with little or no restrictions, sometimes HOA approval may be needed to ensure system materials and methods comply with national safety Standards of LPI, NFPA and UL.

Understanding Your HOA

A HOA is a third-party nonprofit organization created for a subdivision, condominium or housing development to regulate property and various aspects of ownership. New community developments are often required to form these mandatory membership organizations which establish and enforce common agreements for residents. These agreements are typically prepared in the form of covenants or bylaws, which allow the HOA authority to oversee preservation, maintenance and enhancement of both private and communal property. Enforcing the governing documents, collecting unpaid dues, handling resident disputes and dealing with contractors are just a few of the issues HOAs handle. Regarding specific aspects of property ownership, it’s not uncommon for HOA agreements to regulate the following:

* Décor and adornment (painting selection, window coverings, flags and weathervanes)

* Roofing, re-roofing, antennas and weathervanes

* Fencing, mailboxes, basketball hoops and swing sets

* House design sheds, garages and outdoor lights

* Pet ownership

* Garbage cans and compost bins

* Pest control and waste cleanup

Even when home enhancements are not specifically mentioned, homeowners can still be subject to restrictions.

“Since HOA agreements serve a communal purpose, they can regulate many aspects of homeownership,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® “Unfortunately, conflicts between the homeowner and the HOA can arise when guidelines for certain amenities are unclear or omitted. As technology and construction rapidly advances to provide homeowners with more information and options to enhance disaster-resiliency, it may be helpful for HOAs to reexamine certain guidelines to be sure they are keeping pace with mitigation and eco-friendly building trends,” explained Chapman-Henderson.

Navigating HOA restrictions

So what should homeowners do when standard HOA agreements exclude guidelines for energy efficiency products, weather-proofing efforts and disaster-resilient measures such as lightning protection systems? Consultation with the HOA prior to contracting for improvement services is the best plan of action; and education is often a critical part of the consultation process.

For homeowners considering the installation of LPS, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), is a not-for-profit group that provides resources and educational information about lightning protection and lightning safety. LPI offers the following facts and information about LPS for homeowners to share with the HOA during the consultation process:

  • When LPS comply with national safety Standards of LPI, NFPA and UL, they provide proven and effective grounding to dissipate lightning’s harmful electrical discharge. Professionally-installed LPS are inconspicuous to the untrained-eye and do not detract from a home’s aesthetics.
  • Lightning accounts for more than one billion dollars annually in damage to buildings in the U.S.-a statistic that doesn’t include costs due to downtime and repairs. Since today’s homes are equipped with highly sensitive electronic systems, LPS are more essential than ever before.
  • The complete LPS network includes: strike termination devices (air terminals or rods); conductors and/or conductive structural members; interconnecting connectors, fittings and bonding; grounding electrodes; and surge protective devices (SPD’s).
  • LPS improves building resilience and sustainability against a common weather threat. A bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy, making the threat of a fire from a direct strike or an indirect electrical surge to a home very real. In fact, lightning is a leading cause of property loss in the U.S., which is why architects and engineers frequently specify LPS for Green and LEED structures as a building resilience measure.
  • LPS fortifies technology and is increasingly recommended for smart homes. Lightning can initiate a domino effect path of transient overvoltage which can disrupt, degrade and damage multiple electronic systems and connected equipment within the home. As homes become smarter with intelligent systems, the need for LPS becomes more critical.
  • LPS provides an enhanced grounding network for lightning’s mega electricity. Even though homes are grounded for normal electricity, they are still highly vulnerable to lightning’s destructive power which can pack up to 300 million volts of electricity and 30,000 amps. Compared to a household electrical current of 120 volts and 15 amps, lightning’s extreme electricity packs a powerful punch.
  • With lightning striking the earth over 100 times a second, LPS provides a value-added home amenity against the weather peril that affects most people, most of the time, in most areas of the country.
  • Insurance providers are recognizing the benefits of LPS more than ever before, with many offering policy credits and incentives for safety Standard-compliant systems.
  • LPS is an affordable property enhancement. Pricing for LPS typically runs less than 1% the value of a structure (often less expensive than security systems, generators and specialty lighting).

Modifying Community Bylaws for Lightning Safe Communities

When a homeowner has trouble resolving matters with the HOA, it can be helpful to elicit the support of neighbors and the community. The qualified LPS provider is likely to be well-versed in working with HOAs and knowing how to deal with compliance issues and negotiations. Oftentimes, the LPS provider can schedule a presentation and a Q & A meeting to help educate the community and HOA board members about LPS and their company’s track record in providing these services. Since HOA’s are typically governed by state laws, their bylaws also give these organizations the right to impose fines on homeowners who do not comply with the regulations. Naturally, most homeowners want to avoid this type of conflict, which is why it can be helpful to petition your neighbors for support if bylaws need to be examined to include or reference guidelines for additional services. An experienced LPS provider can assist when HOA’s have questions about quality assurance and industry guidelines for LPS.

Final Thoughts to Consider, When Considering LPS 

“While it’s true that lightning losses are generally a covered peril in most property insurance policies, there are treasured belongings that homeowners can’t replace or restore,” said Chapman-Henderson. “Lightning protection is often one of the least expensive improvements that homeowners can purchase and it can provide the best type of insurance–peace of mind and protection for family, home and valuables.”

“It’s important that HOA’s understand that safety Standard-compliant lightning protection systems are effective in mitigating the potential disastrous effects of lightning provided they are designed, installed and maintained in accordance with national safety Standards,” explained Bud VanSickle, executive director for the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI),. “Homeowners need to be aware that installation of LPS is not a do-it-yourself project. An experienced LPI-certified contractor should install the system to ensure materials and methods comply with industry Standards,” explained VanSickle.

Need More Information?

Homeowners seeking information about lightning’s risks and the benefits of lightning protection systems can watch this short YouTube video, “How to Protect Your Home in a FLASH.” Homeowners can also visit the LPI website at http://lightning.org/find-an-installer/ for a list of certified contractors.

Lightning Protection Systems for Re-roofing Projects & the Importance of Trade Coordination & Expert Consultation

bonded-roof-2

Lack of coordination between construction trades can result in a variety of issues when it comes to lightning protection and re-roofing projects. Contracting with a LPI-certified specialist can prevent construction headaches and help ensure quality assurance for lightning protection system re-installation projects.

Lightning protection systems (LPS) are sophisticated networks that incorporate strike termination devices, lightning current conductors, bonding conductors, grounding electrodes and lightning surge protection devices. While the lightning risk for a structure is often the product of the lightning frequency and the consequence of the strike to the structure, designers typically consider a variety of factors when laying out a system plan. This risk assessment takes into account factors including the building environment, type of construction, structure occupancy and structure contents.

Naturally, a structure’s “landscape” changes over time. Weather events like high winds, ice and snow, and extreme temperatures can degrade a structure’s roof system and affect the continuity of the LPS. Building upgrades can affect the LPS, as well. Roof construction, remodeling, and changes to electrical, mechanical or communication systems can alter or interrupt the lightning protection system. Facility maintenance programs should include an annual visual inspection of the LPS to ensure quality control.

Unfortunately, the importance of integration and maintenance of LPS in conjunction with roof systems is often underestimated. A lack of coordination between roofing systems, LPS specifications and the associated trades can result in a variety of maintenance issues and roofing problems. Construction managers, project designers and building owners can expect the best results when their LPS re-roofing plans include the following:

1) A prescriptive LPS re-roofing specification to outline details for materials, methods and workmanship. LPI provides two industry specifications for LPS re-roofing guidance: a performance specification for bidding and proposal use, and long form specification for construction documents. 

2) Reference to the nationally-recognized safety Standards of LPI 175, NFPA 780 and UL 96A as an authoritative source for questions regarding removal, materials and re-installation.

3) Contracting with a certified LPI Master Installer to ensure compliance with nationally-recognized safety Standards. (Note: working with a certified LPI Master Installer to address proper system design is similar to using a RCI certified roofing consultant to assure maintenance of the highest quality protection for the entire roof area of the building envelope.)

4) A third-party close-out inspection (LPI-IP or UL) for LPS quality assurance certification. The LPI-IP provides three types of certifications and inspection options: LPI-IP Master Installation, LPI-IP Reconditioned Master Installation and LPI-IP Limited Scope to accommodate a variety of project needs. UL provides Master Label certification and Letter of Findings services. 

Roof Replacement

A major development in the life of any LPS will occur when the building’s roofing system requires major overhaul or replacement. The entire array of direct strike protection for the structure, along with critical bonding elements for internal grounded systems that penetrate the roof, can be affected during this process.

The re-roofing process is seldom as simple as removing and reinstalling the existing lightning protection components. When LPS are inadequately integrated into a roof system and/or not maintained properly, roof-related problems can arise or the LPS may be rendered ineffective. Alterations, rooftop additions or changes from the original mechanical equipment, antennas, security cameras and internal venting will need to be bonded to the lightning protection system as required by the provisions of the safety standards. Other rooftop traffic from window washers, technicians and other contractors can pose a problem for air terminals and cables if careless damage or disconnects from the system occur.

LPS Considerations for Re-roofing

Various elements of the re-roofing process require the supervision of a qualified lightning protection contractor. A decision must be made on the removal and care of existing system components for possible re-installation. The process of removal and re-installation on phased projects needs coordination to maximize time under protection. After the existing components have been removed, the LPS contractor will consider and address re-installation aspects including:

  • Identifying and marking to preserve existing and reusable through-roof penetrations.
  • Ensuring that structurally mounted hardware is properly anchored according to LPS safety Standards.
  • Using construction grade adhesives compatible with the roofing membrane and complying with manufacturer warranties.
  • Bonding reinstallation to maintain necessary roof-level potential equalization of the LPS.
  • Ensuring circuits of cable conductor are provided with the most direct low-impedance multiple paths to building downleads and structural steel.
  • Coordinating LPS on rooftop HVAC units, vents, mechanical equipment, antennae, cameras, skylights and other rooftop appurtenances requiring bonding and strike termination connections.
  • Reviewing strike termination devices to accommodate changing needs of building landscape. (In instances where renovation projects call for blunt tip and/or spring-mount base strike termination devices to accommodate architectural requirements or high-traffic roof areas.)
  • Ordering a third-party inspection (LPI-IP or UL) to re-certify the system for safety Standard compliance and quality control close-out requirements.

By addressing the above items in a professional manner, the LPS specialist can achieve the ultimate goal of returning the building to the protected zone of a complete system so the expected safety level for the occupants and contents remains continuous.

The science of lightning protection is keeping pace with our ever-changing technology. The newly-released 2017 edition of NFPA 780 includes 12 chapters and 15 annex sections to address design requirements, applications and risk assessment measures for LPS. When designed and installed by a LPI-certified specialist, LPS can meet the needs of safety, technology and design.   

Register for the 2017 LPI/ULPA Annual Lightning Protection Conference!

conferenceregister

Registration is now open for the 2017 LPI/ULPA Lightning Protection Conference in Houston, Texas, February 8-10.  LPI members, Mike Weir and Taylor Lightning Protection, will serve as industry hosts for the 85th annual conference, which will feature educational sessions, networking opportunities, golfing and social events.

The deadline for rooms and registration is January 6, 2017, so be sure to register http://www.ulpa.org/images/2017ULPAConfReg.pdf and book your hotel reservations ASAP!  When making your reservations, be sure to mention the booking code: “ULPA LPI Conference” to receive the special conference rate.  See hotel and golfing information here http://www.ulpa.org/images/2017RoomRates.pdf

What: 85th Annual LPI/ULPA Lightning Protection Conference

When: February 8-10, 2017

Where: The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center 

How: Toll-Free Reservation Center: 800-433-2624 or 281-882-3000 (golf reservations); 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 the 2017 conference. Want to see your company featured at the 2017 conference? If so, be sure to visit the ULPA website sign-up http://www.ulpa.org/images/2017ULPAConfSponsor.pdf  soon to reserve your preferred sponsorship spot.

 

Prevention is Key to Reducing Home Fire Risks; Including Blazes Sparked by Lightning

In support of National Fire Prevention Week 

Lightning is an underrated and often overlooked fire risk, responsible for an estimated 23,000 home fires a year. Lightning protection systems that comply with NFPA standards can meet building resiliency needs for safety, technology and design.

Lightning is an underrated and often overlooked fire risk, responsible for an estimated 23,000 home fires a year. Lightning protection systems that comply with NFPA standards can meet building resiliency needs for safety, technology and design.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that home fires account for $6-8 billion in property damage in the U.S. Many of these fires are preventable, including those sparked by lightning; an underrated and often overlooked fire risk. Lightning-sparked fires that occur in the darkness of night, can be difficult to detect; particularly if the fire originates in the attic, basement or electrical panel.

A single lightning strike can carry 300 million volts of electricity and 30,000 amps. Compared to a household electrical current of 120 volts and 15 amps, lightning’s mega electricity packs a powerful punch which can have devastating results. These fires can be especially destructive, when lightning ignites a home fire in one of the following ways:

  • Through a direct strike
  • In an arc discharge between two conductive objects at different induced potentials
  • By a current surge in circuitry and electrical equipment
  • By the overflow of substantial electrical current which causes overheating, melting or vaporizing of metal
  • By arcing of lightning current from conductors at high-resistance grounds
  • Through lightning puncturing pinholes in CSST gas piping

“The key to fire prevention is to focus on all fire hazards and prevent them before they start, and this includes lightning—a hazard that may not be as obvious,” said Jim Narva, executive director of the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM). “Homeowners may also be unaware that most lightning fires, can be prevented through the design and installation of a NFPA 780 compliant lightning protection system.”

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is partnering with the NASFM to help improve safety measures connected with CSST (a flexible gas tubing found in many homes) and its susceptibility to lightning-related fires.  NASFM has a campaign underway to reduce the number of these fires, and LPI has joined the effort. http://lightning.org/lightning-protection-institute-joins-state-fire-marshals-in-effort-to-reduce-fire-risk-present-in-millions-of-u-s-homes/

Both groups believe that safety can be achieved through the adoption of an improved performance criteria for flexible gas piping (ICC-ES PMG LC1027), which is presently available for installation in new homes.

“The science of lightning protection is keeping pace with our ever-changing technology,” said Mitchell Guthrie, former Chair of NFPA 780 and current Chair of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s Technical Committee on Lightning Protection. “The newly-released 2017 edition of NFPA 780 includes 12 chapters and 15 annex sections to address design requirements, applications and risk assessment measures for lightning protection systems,” added Guthrie.

When installed by a LPI-certified specialist, lightning protection systems can meet the needs of safety, technology and design. A complete system includes: strike termination devices, conductors, ground terminals, interconnecting bonding to minimize side flashing, and surge protection devices for incoming power, data and communication lines to prevent harmful electrical surges.

Homeowners seeking information about lightning’s risks and the benefits of lightning protection systems can watch this short YouTube video, “How to Protect Your Home in a FLASH.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSL53ZDQxy0&list=PLR7GhNEQT6T_kpkVFi7Gd-JfA189n6YUn&index=1

The NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years.  For more information about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.

The Lightning Protection Institute 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.

 

LPI Exhibiting at Greenbuild Expo, in Los Angeles, October 5 & 6

Green building is a good idea and good for business. A Green Building Economic Impact study released by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), found that Green construction is expected to account for more than 2.3 million U.S. jobs by the end of this year, and 3.3 million jobs by 2018. Aligned with this growth in automated technology, lightning protection has become increasingly important for inclusion in green building, LEED and the smart structure design-build process. Demand for green building and lightning protection services are expected to continue to grow as people, businesses and planners continue to emphasize sustainable approaches to design and construction.

This year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo will feature the latest and the greatest products and materials in sustainable design and intelligent building applications; including lightning protection! Join the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) at booth #430 in Los Angeles, CA on October 5 & 6 to learn how lightning protection systems play a critical role in increasing sustainability and building resilience!

Lightning Protection Institute Joins State Fire Marshals in Effort to Reduce Fire Risk Present in Millions of U.S. Homes

Effort calls for improved performance standards for CSST

Fire safety officials believe millions of U.S. homes could be at risk to a fire hazard linked to lightning and a common gas piping known as CSST. Efforts are underway to improve safety measures for new construction.

 Maryville, Mo., September 9, 2016 — The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is joining forces with the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to improve safety measures connected with a fire risk lurking in many homes across the country. The combination of a single lightning strike and the presence of a common gas piping, known as corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST), can pose a serious fire hazard. Fire safety officials believe millions of U.S. homes could be at risk.

Due to its flexible nature and ease of installation, CSST has been widely-used for residential gas service lines since its introduction in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, unlike traditional heavier walled gas pipe, the corrugated design and the thin walls of CSST have proved problematic and susceptible to lightning’s high intensity electric charge. Lightning energies can perforate holes in the CSST and allow gas leakage and fire. In worst case scenarios, such leaks have led to devastating home fires.

“Hazardous outcomes with CSST have already prompted a class action settlement, law suits, a NFPA review and a public awareness campaign,” said Bud VanSickle, LPI executive director. “As a nationwide group dedicated to lightning safety and lightning protection, LPI supports NASFM’s efforts with the codes and standards community to raise the lightning test within the CSST product standard.”

According to NASFM, its recent work with CSST manufacturers and stakeholders in promoting the “Yellow CSST Safety Campaign” has reached over 30 million homeowners. The campaign created safety alerts inserted in utility notices and insurance policyholder communications across the country to educate consumers about bonding and grounding guidelines for CSST; remediation which may not have been addressed when the product was installed. While bonding of the yellow CSST makes homes safer, NASFM is petitioning the codes and standards community for more improvements.

“Raising the ANSI LC1 product standard to require greater immunity of CSST from the lightning threat is imperative for greater safety going forward in new construction,” said Jim Narva, executive director of the NASFM. “We believe LPI’s leadership position in the lightning protection industry can increase awareness and encourage support for improvements to the performance standard for the product.”

 “With the advent of a more significant lightning testing protocol (ICC-ES PMG LC1027) and the current technology for products that can meet the enhanced test requirements, CSST’s vulnerability to lightning will be greatly decreased if performance criteria is increased,” said Mitchell Guthrie, former Chair of NFPA 780 and current Chair of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s Technical Committee on Lightning Protection. Guthrie served on the NFPA Standards Council CSST Task Group and on the Fire Protection Research Foundation Project Technical Panel addressing installation methods for CSST gas piping.

“A safer product is available, so there is little justification to the public not to require the enhanced performance criteria in our national standards,” explained Guthrie. “It’s certainly beneficial to have LPI provide technical support to help achieve the goal.”

“As LPI moves forward to support these efforts, it’s important to remind the public that proper bonding and grounding of internal building systems is just one element of a complete lightning protection system,” added VanSickle.

About NASFM

The National Association of State Fire Marshals comprised of senior fire officials in the U.S. and their top deputies. Its primary mission is to protect human life, property and the environment from fire and related hazards. A secondary mission of NASFM is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the State Fire Marshal’s operations. Visit the NASFM website at http://www.firemarshals.org/ for more information.

About LPI

The Lightning Protection Institute 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 http://lightning.org/ for information about lightning protection system requirements and how to locate a LPI-certified installer in your area. See http://lightning.org/resources/overview-of-csst-lightning-hazard/ for more information about CSST and the lightning risk.

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Contact: Kimberly Loehr, LPI/LSA Press office, kiml@lightning.org

 

Preparation is Key to Navigating Mother Nature’s Nastiness

September 2, 2016 — September is National Preparedness Month and an excellent time to create plans that can safeguard your home or business against Mother Nature’s nastiness. Weather emergencies like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes can happen in the middle of the night, when everyone is sleeping, or during the middle of the day when no one is home. The same is true of lightning–and fire evacuations sparked by lightning are more common than you’d expect.

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A lightning protection system inspection takes place at Longwood University’s Science Center during the same time that restoration crews clean-up debris from a lightning-sparked fire at a nearby campus dormitory.

Just this week, lightning sparked a fire at a Pasco County, FL hospital http://wfla.com/2016/08/31/electric-fire-causes-evacuation-of-20-hudson-hospital-patients/ causing the evacuation of over 200 patients who had to be transported to other hospitals. News reports claimed that lightning hit a main power feed on the hospital’s roof and disabled the hospital’s generator.

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Restoration crews from Servpro assess the fire and water damage left behind from a lightning strike to the Northeast building at the Longwood Landings apartment complex. Firefighters estimated 20,000-25,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire.

Last month, in Farmville, VA, over 100 students were evacuated and reassigned to other housing after lightning struck an apartment building http://www.farmvilleherald.com/2016/08/lighting-hits-longwood-apartment-building/ on the Longwood University campus, igniting an eight-alarm fire. The student housing department was forced to scramble to find new accommodations for the students, who had just moved onto campus for the fall semester.

Thunderstorms occur throughout the year and all thunderstorms bring lightning. If a lightning event were to cause an emergency for your home or business, would your family or co-workers know how to get in touch with each other if you are not all together? Before an emergency happens, have a family or company plan in place to determine a point of contact. Ready.gov explains what an emergency communication plan is and how you can prepare one for your family or business: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

When it comes to lightning, the best way to prepare your home or business from lightning is to have a lightning protection system professionally installed to safeguard your structure, occupants and equipment against Mother Nature’s nastiness. A lightning protection system includes a network of strike termination devices, conductors, grounding electrodes, interconnecting conductors, surge protective devices and other connectors and required fittings. When properly installed in accordance with national safety standards, the system dissipates the dangerous mega electrical discharge to prevent fire, explosion of nonconductive materials and harmful surge overloads.

We know from experience that homes and businesses prepared for disasters are far more likely to incur less damage and recover quicker than those not prepared. Preparation in all areas of life is always important. So, let’s not let our guard down against lightning. After all, the weather peril experienced by most people, most of the time, in most places of our country, certainly commands our respect now, during National Preparedness Month!