Is Your Lightning Protection Due for a Check-up? Why Maintenance is Key to Ensuring a Safe and Effective System.

 

Routine maintenance and inspection of  lightning protection systems are imperative  to ensure continuity and compliance with national safety standards. Airports and critical structures may want to implement preventative maintenance programs to evaluate and maintain the integrity of their lightning protection systems.

Routine maintenance and inspection of lightning protection systems are imperative to ensure continuity and compliance with national safety standards.
Airports and critical structures may want to implement preventative maintenance programs to evaluate and maintain the integrity of their lightning protection systems.

airportphoto2February 12, 2014 — Media accounts of lightning striking a station tower at Baltimore’s main airport and injuring an air traffic controller last September have exposed new safety concerns for airports.  Has this incident exposed a vulnerability at our country’s airports, where air traffic controllers are called upon to coordinate thousands of flights each day?  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that the incident was “a first of its kind in FAA history,” but given the frequency of lightning in the U.S., a practical risk assessment surely makes sense.

 NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems 2014 Edition is a valuable source for performing a detailed lightning risk assessment methodology to determine the risk of damage or injury due to lightning. Since the FAA is now planning an investigation of lightning protection at airport towers throughout the country, the NFPA Standard and risk assessment guide can serve as a valuable tool for this review.  

The incident certainly underscores the importance of functional lightning protection to keep structures and occupants safe during thunderstorms, but perhaps more notably, this incident has exposed the importance of maintenance and safety standard compliance for these systems.  

So what kind of “TLC” is needed for lightning protection systems?  Industry recommendations call for a visual inspection to be performed annually, with an in-depth inspection and follow-up quality assurance certification or report provided every three to five years. Critical systems (airports certainly apply, here), may need to be inspected every one to three years, depending on activity, occupancy or the environment where the protected structure is located.

In addition to routine maintenance inspections, lightning protection systems should be inspected whenever any alterations, repairs, re-roofing or modifications are made to a protected structure.  A certified LPI lightning protection specialist can repair or modify the system and order a follow-up inspection to ensure continuity of the system and continued compliance with industry safety standards. 

Then there is the problem with old systems. What if your structure is equipped with lightning protection and you don’t know how long ago the system was installed?  Do you know if the system complies with national safety standards of LPI, NFPA and UL?  If no one can answer these questions, it’s time to schedule a lightning protection system inspection and maintenance check for the structure.  If the system has antique equipment, cable, rods or grounds, an upgrade is in order, as old and deteriorated lightning protection components can pose an unsafe condition. 

Here are a few important provisions of a lightning protection maintenance check list:

  • Inspection of all air terminals to ensure none are bent, cracked, broken or otherwise damaged.
  • Refastening and tightening of components and conductors where required.
  • Check for loose, damaged or cut cable connections; check connectors and splice fittings to ensure all leads are firmly connected with no loose ends.
  • Ensure through-roof connectors are firm with roof conductors and attached according to industry standards and cable holders and anchors remain firmly attached with proper spacing and runs secured.
  • Continuity tests and measurement of system resistance and grounding electrodes.
  • Inspection and testing of surge protection devices.
  • Confirmation that no part of the system has been weakened by corrosion or vibration.
  • Follow-up inspection (recommended every 3-5 years, or as structural changes and/or re-roofing necessitates) to ensure overall installation methods and materials comply with industry safety standards.
  • Risk assessment methodology (NFPA 780 Annex L) to determine if additional structures on the property are at risk to lightning.

Lightning protection technology requires expertise for system design, installation and quality control. A preventative approach to lightning protection maintenance is important for all protected structures, but especially crucial for airports and critical facilities. Lightning protection system defects caused by age, disconnections, severe weather events, structural neglect, or outside contractor traffic can pose safety problems. An experienced, LPI certified lightning protection specialist can address these safety problems and provide a quality control maintenance inspection to ensure that age, mechanical damage or modifications to the structure do not degrade the system.

If you suspect your structure’s lightning protection system is in need of a little TLC, contact your local LPI expert http://www.lightning.org/installers/ to schedule a maintenance check-up, or contact the LPI-IP office:  info@lpi-ip.com for information about quality assurance inspection services.

Tending to the Trees! How Lightning Protection Provides Sustainability to Keep Trees Healthy & Green

Evidence of what  single lightning strike can do to an unprotected tree.  It's likely this tree would have survived for generations to come if it had been equipped with a lightning protection system.

Evidence of what a single lightning strike can do to an unprotected tree. It’s likely this tree would have survived for generations to come if it had been equipped with a lightning protection system.

January 16, 2014 — “They are beautiful in their peace, they are wise in their silence. They will stand after we are dust.  They teach us, and we tend them.”
–  Galeain ip Altiem MacDunelmor   

Are you tending to your trees?  Even if you aren’t a full-fledged tree-hugger, you probably know that lightning is nature’s predator.  Lightning damages and kills more trees than we can account for in the U.S.  A single bolt of lightning can carry 100 million volts of electricity, so unless a tree is equipped with a lightning protection system, it can be extremely vulnerable to damage by lightning.  Lightning can injure the tree from a direct hit or side flash (lightning jumping from a nearby object), and problems can vary from light limb damage, to total annihilation. 

Lightning’s electrical charge can boil the liquid sap, causing natural gases in the tree to expand, which in turn cause the bark to split open or the tree to literally explode.  Lightning’s current utilizes the high resistance wood as a conductor, causing massive damage as it transverses the non-conductive elements of the tree on its way to ground.  In some instances, the only evidence of a lightning strike may be the internal browning of the xylem (water-conducting woody tissue), which causes a gradual decay of the tree.  

Here are a few commonly-asked questions about trees, lightning and lightning protection:

Q. Are there risk factors or conditions that apply regarding a tree’s vulnerability to lightning?

A. Geographic location, species/type of tree and height are factors that may apply.  According to agricultural specialists, lightning is most likely to strike trees under these conditions:

  • lone trees
  • tallest trees in a group or tallest tree at the end of a group of trees
  • trees growing in moist soil or close to a body of water
  • trees closest to a building or structure

 Q. Are some trees more vulnerable to lightning than others?

A. Trees most vulnerable to lightning (those with high starch content) include: maple, ash, poplar, pine, oak, hemlock, elm and sycamore.  Large oak trees are often vulnerable due to their size or prominence. Trees less vulnerable (those with high oil content) include: birch, beech and chestnut.

 Q. Why should property owners consider lightning protection for trees?

A. Any trees that are valued for landscaping, sentimental or historical reasons should be protected, including those trees which add aesthetic value to the property. 

 Q. How does a lightning protection system protect a tree from damage?

A. A copper cable and grounding system is used to intercept lightning’s harmful electricity and conduct it safely underground and away from the tree, so that no damage occurs to the wood or the roots.  The principle employed for tree lightning protection (in accordance with national safety standards of LPI-175, NFPA 780 and UL-96A), is the same used to protect structures, homes and buildings. 

 Q. Does the tree lightning protection system also provide protection for nearby structures on the property?

A. No. The system provides protection for the tree only.  Separate lightning protection systems should be considered to protect structures on the property.

 Q. What kind of maintenance is needed for a tree lightning protection system?

A.  An annual visual check of the tree should be made by the property owner or maintenance manager to ensure all elements of the system remain connected and in place.  Occasionally, additional cable runs, air terminals or grounding components may need to be added to accommodate tree growth.  It’s also important to check lightning protection cables at the base of the tree to ensure no system interruption or damage has occurred from weed trimming, lawnmowers, or ground excavation.

 Q. Who can install the lightning protection system?

A. Be sure to contact a UL-listed, LPI-certified lightning protection specialist or a qualified arborist to ensure your system is installed in accordance with national safety standards.

 In most situations, a tree struck by lightning will continue to decline over time and eventually require removal. A tree usually succumbs to disease or death more quickly if the lightning strike passes completely through the trunk (streaks of splintered bark are typically visible on both sides of the tree when this occurs).  Most often, owners will notice signs of decay within two weeks of a lightning strike. Since few trees survive a direct lightning strike, it may be good insurance for property owners to consider lightning protection for vulnerable trees, specimen trees, historic trees or trees over public shelters.

So if your tree is vulnerable to nature’s destructive hazard, a lightning protection system could be the best hug you could give to keep it green and healthy for years to come!

2014 NFPA Safety Standard Adds New Applications for Lightning Protection

nfpaphotoDecember 19, 2013 — The oldest and most comprehensive safety standard for lightning protection has been updated to address several new industry developments.  The recently-released 2014 edition of NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems includes several new applications and requirements for projects specifying lightning protection.

NFPA 780 was adopted by the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) long ago as a reference for the organization and its members.  This important safety standard provides valuable resource information for AHJs, project designers, engineers, insurance professionals and anyone responsible for protection of lives and property from dangers associated with lightning. The 2014 document addresses the newest lightning protection applications and provides updated resource material for known safety challenges. NFPA-780 continues to serve as the basis for the LPI-175 reference document, used by LPI-certified designers, installers and inspectors.

The 84 page document includes new references and sections to address applications including:

Realignment of requirements for strike termination devices (air terminals or lightning rods).

  • Consolidation of bonding requirements (to reduce potential differences created by lightning currents), and coordination with current NEC requirements.
  • Fixed metal objects on buildings with movable or rotating metal components (examples include: cranes, wind socks, observatories, traffic cameras, radar dishes, and opening skylights).
  • Lightning protection criteria and guidance for airfield lighting circuits.
  • Lightning protection guidance for solar systems and arrays (frequently installed on roof tops where risk of exposure is greatest), which addresses the increased demand for renewable and alternative energy sources.
  • Changes to requirements for catenary systems (a lightning protection system consisting of overhead wire/s), and applications to improve protection of open areas.
  • A change back to preferred measurements in inch-pound units from metric.
  • Revision to include structural protection for electric generating plants.
  • Clarification that new requirements are retroactive to existing systems only when specifically noted.

The 2014 edition of NFPA 780 was prepared by the Technical Committee on Lightning Protection and issued by the Standards Council last June to immediately supersede all previous editions of the document.

 

 

Mitigation Call to Action: Support the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013!

Congressman Dennis Ross shares benefits of the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 to attendees at the Mitigation 360 FLASH Conference.

Congressman Dennis Ross shares benefits of the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 to attendees at the Mitigation 360 FLASH Conference.

Lynne McChristian (Insurance Information Institute) and Kim Loehr met in Orlando to support a mitigation call to action at the FLASH annual conference.

Lynne McChristian (Insurance Information Institute) and Kim Loehr met in Orlando to support a mitigation call to action at the FLASH annual conference.

November 27, 2013 — Did you know that disaster safety experts estimate that for every dollar a homeowner invests in mitigation, the return can yield up to seven times the amount in measurable savings? So to use lightning protection as an example, a $3,000 lightning protection system can save a homeowner over $20,000 in damages connected with a single lightning strike or surge event. And if the lightning strike results in a structural fire, the damage costs are likely to escalate well beyond that $20,000 figure.

While homeowners can’t be sure when or where a disaster will strike, they can certainly take measures to plan ahead and increase home safety. Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of lightning protection, may have said it best with his famous quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Now it looks like an incentive may be on the horizon for homeowners who are willing to take that ounce of prevention.

The “Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013” is a proposed federal legislation introduced in October by U.S. Representative Dennis Ross that would help Americans pay for disaster mitigation and preparedness tax-free. The Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 would allow homeowners to deduct up to $5,000 per year through tax-preferred “disaster savings accounts” to use for expenses related to the mitigation of natural disaster risks, including earthquakes, floods, hail, hurricanes, power outages, tornadoes, wildfires and yes, lightning!

In the words of Congressman Ross, “This legislation will give families more tools to invest in their safety and resiliency, and will help contribute to a potential reduction in the economic costs of natural disasters.”

Here is an Official Summary (as listed on a website connected with Congressman Ross) of the Legislation:

Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 – Amends the Internal Revenue Code to:
(1) establish tax-exempt disaster savings accounts to pay the expenses of homeowners for equipment and materials for mitigating the effects of a natural disaster,
(2) allow a deduction from gross income (above-the-line deduction) up to $5,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) in a taxable year for cash contributions to such accounts, and
(3) set forth tax rules for account distributions and failure to report on disaster savings accounts.

The proposed legislation is receiving support from mitigation experts such as: Federal Alliance for Safe Homes-FLASH, Florida Insurance Council, The Home Depot, Kohler, RenaissanceRe and Simpson Strong-Tie. LPI joins these experts in support of the legislation and is urging industry members and partners to support the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013.

It’s a certainty that Mother Nature will strike again and again. The question is: will we be better prepared for the next weather event? If homeowners remember Benjamin Franklin’s ounce of prevention advice, they can be better prepared.

As we count our blessings this Thanksgiving, let’s enjoy a little savings and a lot of peace of mind by supporting the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013!

Fire Prevention Campaign Effort Provides $100,000 in Lightning Protection System Donations for Fire Stations!

The Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign is helping to safeguard at risk fire stations, like the one shown here in Palm Harbor, FL. LPI members are partnering with firefighters across the U.S. to sponsor lightning safety awareness events in their communities.

The Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign is helping to safeguard at-risk fire stations, like the one shown here in Palm Harbor, FL. LPI members are partnering with firefighters across the U.S. to sponsor lightning safety awareness events in their communities.

October 18, 2013 — A lot can happen in a year in the world of lightning protection; especially when LPI members get together to support safety and their communities.  A campaign that began last fall to support Sparky the Fire Dog’s “Wish List” has now successfully provided complimentary lightning protection systems for over half a dozen fire stations in high risk lightning regions across the U.S.

The “Building Lightning Safe Communities” campaign was created through an industry initiative to provide lightning protection resources to the public and the fire safety community.  In support of the campaign, several LPI-member firms have donated lightning protection systems for fire stations in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas.  The combined value of these system donations is approximately $100,000.  LPI organized the campaign donations when outreach with the fire safety community revealed that many stations across the country were lacking lightning protection systems to protect their personnel, structures and equipment.

Participating LPI member firms who have donated lightning protection systems for fire stations in their states include: Bonded Lightning Protection Systems, Ltd. of Argyle, Texas; ECLE, of Winsted, Conn.; Guardian Equipment Co., of Novi, Mich.; HLP Systems of Libertyville, Ill; Lightning Specialists, of Palm Harbor, Fla.; Mr. Lightning, of Colorado Springs, Colo. and Thompson Lightning Protection, of St. Paul, Minn.

Through the Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign, LPI members have strengthened partnerships with fire safety officials across the country. Fire Prevention Month is a perfect opportunity to remind firefighters of the important ways they can help promote lightning safety awareness:

  1. Education!  As first responders, firefighters play a critical role in the education process.  A single bolt of lightning can pack 100 million volts of electricity which can be devastating to an unprotected structure. Firefighters can help educate the public and the media about code-compliant lightning protection systems, which provide a practical, tested solution against a common, yet underrated weather threat.
  2. Promote NFPA 780!  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building and life safety. The NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems is a document that covers requirements for structures, watercraft, wind turbines and solar arrays to protect lives and property from fire and related dangers associated with lightning events.  Firefighters can support fire and lightning safety by promoting this important document.
  3. Report Lightning Fires! Fire safety month is a perfect time to remind fire professionals to include lightning in their NFIRS reports where relevant to prevent under-reporting and increase awareness about a preventable risk.
  4. Stay Safe!  LPI reminds firefighters to stay safe when responding to lightning incidents and assisting lightning victims.  Visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov for important lightning safety information.
  5.  Learn More!  LPI invites firefighters to visit www.lightning-risk.org and www.lightning.org to learn more about the dangers of lightning and how to help protect people and property against this deadly weather threat.

For more information about the Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign visit www.lightningsafe.org.

 

 

Building Lightning Safe Communities Goes Global with the Haiti Project

 

The Haiti Project will help provide lightning protection resources for the orphans at St. Helen's Home in the Kenscoff mountains.

The Haiti Project will help provide lightning protection resources for the orphans at St. Helen’s Home in the Kenscoff mountains.

haitiphotologo2September 17, 2013 — Haiti is no stranger to severe weather and natural disasters. In recent years, devastating earthquakes, hurricanes and floods have taken their toll on the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Our neighbors some 700 miles off the Florida coastline are also extremely vulnerable to a common weather threat that can impact their lives and livelihood on a much more frequent basis.  You guessed it; that threat is lightning.

Haiti’s St. Helen’s Home (NPFS) and Orphanage has suffered repeated lightning strikes to its facility and is seeking relief from lightning’s wrath. The orphanage compound sits on the top of the highest point in the Kenscoff mountains and is vulnerable to severe thunderstorms and damaging lightning. Lightning has already caused many problems for the orphanage with damaged electronics and equipment. In addition to the electrical problems, lightning poses a serious safety concern for the children—some of who are severely handicapped and disabled.

In a quest for information and help, the orphanage’s volunteer administrator contacted LPI last winter.  After a series of emails, conference calls and pledges of support, a volunteer team known as the Building Lightning Safe Communities (BLSC) – Haiti Project “dream team” was formed.

Members of the BLSC Haiti Project team have formed a plan to utilize resources in order to provide a total protection package for the orphanage. Volunteers from the lightning protection industry, the NOAA/NWS Lightning Safety Awareness team and groups including: Roadie Relief, Project Cure, Weather Decision Technology, Music for Relief and One World Futbol.com have pledged to assist with various aspects of the lightning protection project.  A three member advance team (Mark Morgan, Guy Maxwell and Mitch Guthrie) traveled to Haiti this past July to survey the orphanage. The advance team is presently outlining the necessary manpower, materials and costs needed to provide a comprehensive lightning protection package for the various facility structures.  The total protection package for St. Helen’s will rely on an extended group effort and generous donations of time, talent and resources.

Information about the BLSC initiative, the Haiti Project and the lightning relief dream team member list can be found at www.lighntingsafe.org.  Please visit www.lightningsafe.org and contact LPI if your organization or group is able to provide support for this project.  Join the Haiti project dream team and help LPI build lightning safe communities!

Partners Load the Bases & Pitch “Play it Safe” for Lightning Awareness Outreach!

Red Sox fans wear "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors" lightning bolt visors to show support for Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

Red Sox fans wear “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” lightning bolt visors to show support for Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

 

fenwayparkphoto

fenwayfansfamilyAugust 19, 2013 — When partners load the bases to pinch hit for lightning awareness outreach, safety scores a home run! This is what happened when partners from nonprofit organizations across the country came together in Boston to promote the 2013 Lightning Safety Awareness Week campaign.

Historically speaking, the months of June, July and August are the deadliest months for lightning in the U.S.  Summer months typically mean long hot days with humid conditions for most regions in the U.S. and humidity translates to perfect conditions for lightning.  And since leisure activities are in full force during June, July and August, it’s no coincidence that the majority of lightning deaths occur while victims are participating in these outdoor activities.

But, just how to get the public’s attention to heed lightning safety during leisure time, has remained a challenge. So, on June 28, 2013 the National Weather Service (NWS) decided it was time to take lightning safety to the ball game–and passionate lightning safety advocates wearing yellow lightning bolt visors were sent to help with the pitching!

In a game plan to bring lightning safety to FenwayPark, the NWS forecast office in Taunton, MA organized a LSA Week promotion with the Red Sox’s Community Home-Stand Program. Meteorologist, Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, jumped at the opportunity to pitch lightning safety at FenwayPark and arranged for a NWS lightning safety booth at the June 28, Red Sox-Blue Jays game during Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

NWS Lightning Safety Awareness Team lead, Donna Franklin coordinated booth materials with Vallier-Talbot to make sure the display was both attention-getting and educational.  Red Sox fans were introduced to a variety of LSA week messages, including the “Safer Design for Safer Play” campaign which promotes lightning safety and protection measures for recreational venues. LPI and the Lightning Safety Alliance donated Leon the Lightning Lion posters, safety materials and yellow lightning bolt visors for the fans.  The “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” foam visors scored a major hit with Red Sox fans, young and old.

The most exciting moment in the “Play it Safe” outreach at Fenway came in the middle of the fifth inning, when the pre-arranged lightning safety message appeared on the center field New Balance scoreboard.  “June 23-30 is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, Play it Safe!” flashed across the Fenway board for all to see.  Although the PSA only appeared for a brief moment in the game, it felt like a homerun to the LSA team partners who had thrown their last pitch of the night for lightning safety awareness!

Oh, and by the way, the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 7-5; which was pretty sweet, too!

Eleanor Vallier-Talbot with the National Weather Service office in Taunton, MA and Kim Loehr were pinch-hitters for Lightning Safety Awareness at Fenway Park on June 28, 2013.

Building Lightning Safe Communities with a Little Help from Architects, Firefighters, Meteorologists & Red Sox Fans!

A Colorado news reporter shoots footage of the newly-installed lightning protection system on South Metro Fire Station #45.  LPI member firm, Mr. Lightning provided the installation at no charge and ECLE donated the materials.

A Colorado news reporter shoots footage of the newly-installed lightning protection system on South Metro Fire Station #45. LPI member firm, Mr. Lightning provided the installation at no charge and ECLE donated the materials.

 

LPI representatives enjoy "Hat Happy Hour" at the 2013 AIA Expo in Denver.

LPI representatives enjoy “Hat Happy Hour” at the 2013 AIA Expo in Denver.

 

Interview with Architect Live Show at the 2013 AIA Expo.

Interview with Architect Live Show at the 2013 AIA Expo.

2013 Lightning Safety Awareness Week kick-off with South Metro Fire Rescue and partners.

2013 Lightning Safety Awareness Week kick-off with South Metro Fire Rescue and partners.

July 16, 2013 — Oh, and let’s not forget Governor John Hickenlooper! So what do architects, firefighters, meteorologists, Red Sox fans and Governor John Hickenlooper have in common? They were all part of the “Building Lightning Safe Communities” campaign effort in conjunction with Lightning Safety Awareness Week 2013. The collaboration was certainly a “tag-team” effort beginning in Denver, CO on June 22 and wrapping up in Boston on June 28. Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, graciously provided campaign support with an official Lightning Safety Awareness Week proclamation, noting that “education is key to understanding lightning’s dangers.” And education was the focus when LPI, the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and other partnering organizations joined emergency preparedness director, Dana Reynolds and South Metro Fire Rescue chief, Dan Qualman for a press conference at Fire Station #45 in Parker, CO to kick-off the 13th annual Lightning Safety Awareness Week and share details about the Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign.

Why Colorado for the kick-off? Our partners at the NWS tell us that lightning strikes Colorado almost 500,000 times a year and has killed 91 people and injured over 400 in Colorado since 1980. Lightning has also been responsible for sparking devastating wildfires in the region and in other nearby states. Lightning is also known to accompany tornadoes; which was just the scenario when a tornado touched ground at the Denver airport on June 18, just three days prior to the Lightning Safety Awareness week kick-off event! (I was privy to an up-close and personal view of the brewing storm while participating in a LPI strategic planning session at the Denver Airport Marriott.)

“A single bolt of lightning can reach over five miles in length and carry a hundred million volts of electricity,” explains Mark Morgan, spokesman for the LSA. The LSA held a continuing education seminar about lightning protection and national safety standards which Morgan moderated in conjunction with the Parker, CO kick-off event.

Concerns about national safety standards for lightning protection is where the architects tag-up for the 2013 LSA Week effort. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention was held in Denver this summer and featured a broadcast of “ARCHITECT Live” on the Expo hall which introduced attendees to personalities, experts and industry watchers who shared insights and ideas about the world of architecture. While at the AIA Expo, I enjoyed the opportunity to provide a five-minute interview with host, Stephen Chung to introduce the Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign and discuss the importance of national safety standards.  Architects rely on this important information when specifying lightning protection.  (Architects seeking information about safety standards for lightning protection can contact www.lightningsafetyalliance.org for information about an AIA registered continuing education program, “Lightning Protection Basics – LSA 101.”)

Tag-up firefighters, and here we were blessed to work with South Metro Fire Rescue Chief, Dan Qualman who served as emcee for the 2013 LSA Week kick-off press conference. “Each year we see lightning-related injuries, deaths and property loss that might have been prevented with awareness and education,” said Chief Qualman. In conjunction with the Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign, LPI member firms, Mr. Lightning and ECLE facilitated a lightning protection system donation for South Metro Fire Rescue Station #45. LPI and member firms have organized several other lightning protection system donations for fire stations in high risk regions of the U.S., as outreach with fire safety groups has revealed that many stations across the country are lacking systems to protect their personnel, structures and equipment.

Another highlight of the 2013 campaign was the “Safer Design for Safer Play” educational initiative which promotes lightning safety and provides educational resources for outdoor facilities such as theme, parks, golf courses, open air venues and stadiums. This is where the meteorologists and Red Sox fans tag-teamed to load the bases for lightning safety. Stay tuned for more of the LSA Week re-cap…to be continued soon!

Partnership Support Boosts Lightning Safety Awareness Campaign Efforts During June

tampa2 June 14, 2013 — National groups across the country join forces in June to promote public awareness about lightning safety and mitigation.  NOAA and the National Weather Service launched an annual lightning safety campaign in 2001 to increase awareness about the dangers of lightning and provide the public with safety information to help protect families and their property.  Since 2001, outreach with like-minded partners such as the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, FLASH, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have helped expand the campaign mission to deliver lightning safety and preparedness messages to the public.

The 13th annual Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 23-29, 2013.  This year’s campaign kick-off will take place in Parker, CO with a press conference and community event planned for June 21, at South Metro Fire Rescue Station #45.  The kick-off event will also provide an overview of the “Building Lightning Safe Communities” campaign, which is providing lightning protection systems for fire stations across the U.S. In conjunction with the campaign, a LPI-IP certified lightning protection system installation will provided for South Metro Fire Rescue Station #45 by LPI member firms, ECLE and Mr. Lightning.

Lightning is responsible for billions of dollars in damage to buildings, communication systems, power lines and electrical systems each year. Lightning Safety Awareness Week is an ideal time to remind the public about steps they can take to stay safe from lightning’s underrated risk.

Lightning safety awareness and education boosted by partnership can help build on the success of existing programs and services.  By pooling expert resources accordingly, partners can come together to make a difference to better address lightning safety and protection needs for life and property.

More information about National Lightning Safety Awareness Week can be found at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.  More information about lightning safety and protection for outdoor facilities can be found www.lightning-risk.org.

 

 

 

It’s Electrical Safety Month and Time to Raise Awareness about the Importance of Lightning Protection Safety Standards!

The importance of following the nationally recognized safety standards (LPI-175, NFPA 780 and UL-96A) when specifying lightning protection systems can not be understated.

The importance of following nationally recognized safety standards (LPI-175, NFPA 780 and UL-96A) when specifying lightning protection systems can not be understated.

May 16, 2013 — May is National Electrical Safety Month and the Lightning Protection Institute is joining with the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to raise awareness about the importance of electrical safety—including lightning, an underrated and often forgotten electrical hazard. Lightning is the rapid discharge of atmospheric electricity that can pack up to 100 million volts of power—so we’re talking mega electricity with lots of potential for damage and destruction.  A lightning strike to an unprotected structure can be disastrous and a single incident can cost thousands of dollars, with losses ranging from damage to expensive electronics to fires that destroy entire buildings.

The vulnerability of homes and buildings to lightning’s harmful electricity can not be understated.  Power and generation systems, gas and water piping, and enhanced communication lines have created induction problems for today’s structures, allowing lightning’s access through energized lines or system grounds.

When a lightning protection system complies with national safety standards, it provides a practical and tested solution to protect a structure, its occupants, contents, equipment and operations. The grounding network provided by a properly installed system is a total package protection approach, but the package is incomplete without adherence to national safety standards.

LPI and lightning protection industry groups are increasingly concerned about growing news reports of lightning-induced fires and building evacuations occurring at structures where non-standard lightning protection systems have been installed.  Vendors are pitching “new technology” systems and devices, many of which make claims to prevent lightning attachment. The fact that these devices don’t comply with U.S. safety standards and are refuted by independent lightning experts should raise serious questions with every, engineer, architect or building planner responsible for selecting lightning protection systems.  The science is nonexistent, the safety standard compliance is missing, the reports of failures keep coming, yet these non-standard devices continue to flood the marketplace.  Enlightenment is needed and it begins in the building planning phase!

LPI is reminding engineers and building planners to carefully review their specifications for lightning protection to make sure they comply with recognized safety standards of LPI, NFPA and UL.  Information about lightning protection design in accordance with safety standards is available at www.lightning-risk.org or www.lightningsafetyalliance.org.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May to increase public awareness of electrical hazards.  For more information about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.esfi.org.