Jim Pauley and Scott Williams, FPA Australia
NFPA President Jim Pauley shared international fire protection standards and research insight with more than 1,500 firefighters, engineers, fire safety engineers, architects, facility managers, and building and fire protection professionals at the Fire Australia 17 Conference & Tradeshow in Sydney this week.
His keynote touched on the historical challenges that have shaped the fire service; and the role that codes and standards play in keeping citizens, first responders and property safe from the burden of fire and related hazards. He pointed out that NFPA’s first code, NFPA 13, the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, was established in 1896 and sprinklers continue to be a key issue for NFPA today. NFPA has pledged support to Australia as they too advocate for the increased use of sprinklers.
During his remarks, Pauley challenged the audience to consider new ways of tackling the fire problem by capturing and using data for improved decision-making; and by working with global stakeholders to share resources and best practices. He spoke about demographic changes, emphasizing that the number of people in Australia over age 65 will soon reach twenty-five percent of the total population - compared to thirteen percent just a few years ago. As populations get older, there will be more risk of fire death.
Pauley also highlighted climate change and the dramatic increase in wildfires – or bushfires as Australians call them. Wildfire seasons are getting longer, the intensity of fires are increasing, and the losses are staggering. He referenced the Climate Institute’s total economic cost of natural disasters in Australia, including bushfires, being six billion dollars in 2012. Those numbers are expected to double by 2030 and rise to an average of twenty-three billion Australian dollars per year by 2050.
Emerging issues were also covered during Pauley’s keynote. This topic was covered in greater detail later in the day by NFPA’s Chris Dubay. The vice president of engineering presented an educational session on lithium-ion battery storage and associated fire safety dangers. Electric vehicles and energy storage systems were the focus of the presentation with Dubay providing perspective on codes and standards, NFPA emergency responder training, research, and the knowledge gaps that have been identified for these topics.
NFPA has worked closely with Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) since its debut in 1997. FPA Australia sends a contingent to NFPA’s Conference & Expo (C&E) annually.