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NFPA's Karen Berard-Reed leads lively discussion on building community partnerships at today's Spotlight on Public Education session.


At this morning’s Spotlight on Public Education, Karen Berard-Reed, senior project manager for NFPA's public education division, hosted “Lone Ranger or Justice League? Building Partnerships for Risk Reduction Efforts,” which addressed strategies for building strong community partnerships.

Berard-Reed noted important factors to consider when reaching out to potential partners: Do your homework and choose organizations whose goals align with yours. Provide details about what you're asking them to do, but be clear about how your partnership will benefit them as well. “Partnerships are a two-way street,” said Berard-Reed. “You can’t simply ask for what you want an organization to give you. You need to spell out how working with you will support their efforts, too.”

She also noted that by getting to know your partners and learning about them, you can develop strong relationships that make the work you do together fun. “When you really get to know your community partners, working with them won’t even feel like work,” Berard-Reed said.

The session included lively and interactive conversation among attendees, who shared their perspectives and experiences on selecting community partners and techniques for building lasting relationships. 

Erin Baumgartner of MIT's Senseable City Lab speaking Sunday at the NFPA Conference & Expo General Session in Boston. 


As billions of Internet-connected devices from cell phones to sensors flood our world with data, the question “what are we supposed to do with it all?” keeps all sorts of really smart people across the globe very busy. Sunday, two of those people shared their answers to that all-important question at the 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo General Session in Boston, Massachusetts.


Keynote speakers Erin Baumgartner, assistant director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, and Tom Koulopoulos, CEO and founder of the Delphi Group, came at the question in complementary ways. Baumgartner, who’s lab comes up with innovative ways to use data to make cities “smarter, safer, greener and more pleasurable to live in,” she said, shared some mind-boggling examples of the types of insights big data can unlock in the real world. Koulopoulos, who spoke next, talked of what needs to happen in order to integrate the use of these powerful data insights and technologies into our everyday lives.


Watch Erin Baumgartner's keynote presentation at the 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo


“There has been a global boom of growth in the stuff that talks to the Internet,” said Baumgartner, citing a Cisco figure that by 2020 there will be 30 billion connected devices worldwide. “That represents an enormous challenge, but also huge opportunities. … This is the data we like to swim around in to figure out how our cities can be better.”


Her lab at MIT embedded sensors to track thousands of pieces of trash to find out where it goes, and found huge inefficiencies; mapped millions of taxi rides in New York City and elsewhere, finding that 90 percent of rides are shareable with minimal disruption to passengers; and has even designed sewer robots to dig around under the streets of Cambridge, Mass. to take readings that may be able to track public health trends.


While Baumgartner’s presentation zeroed in on specific examples of big data’s tantalizing possibilities, Koulopoulos’s talk took a big picture view of how this global movement may be integrated into solutions for the real world.



Tom Koulopoulos, CEO and Founder of the Delphi Group, speaks at the 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo General Session in Boston on Sunday.


Successful innovations change human behavior over time and seamlessly integrate into people’s lives, Koulopoulos said, citing video games, social media, and smartphones as examples. Big data solutions for the fire service and fire protection professionals will have to have a similar evolution, he argued.


“All of these devices cannot be layered onto what is already a difficult job,” he said. “You need to ask the question: does this simplify the task? We cannot feed all of this information to firefighters or we’ll overwhelm them, not make things easier.”


The solution is to funnel more complex data up to some other system that simplifies it to the most important small, usable bites that can then be fed to the end user.


“All progress is complex before it’s simple,” he said. “The task is not technology, it is fundamentally changing behavior. I hope you’re up to it.”

The recipients of the Philip J. DiNenno Prize pose with Linda DiNenno and NFPA Chair Randy Tucker.


Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA) is the technical achievement to receive this year’s Philip J. DiNenno Prize during the NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston. The award was presented to David Packham, John Petersen, and Martin Cole, with special commendation given to deceased co-inventor and advocate Len Gibson.


VESDA technology and its pre-eminent role in the global introduction of aspirated smoke detection or ASD has led to a major impact on public safety.


The prestigious DiNenno Prize recognizes groundbreaking innovations that have had a significant impact in the building, fire and electrical safety fields. The prize is named for the late Philip J. DiNenno, the greatly respected former CEO of Hughes Associates, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to fire safety.

The VESDA innovation transformed the fire detection and alarm industry and inspired a whole new aspirated smoke detection area of technology. The installation of VESDA in telecommunication facilities, telephone exchanges, data centers, high technology manufacturing, industrial control rooms and other related facilities has had a significant impact on asset protection and business continuity. In addition, the very early smoke detection by VESDA provides life safety protection for employees working in these buildings.


The DiNenno Prize was established in 2014 following DiNenno’s passing in 2013. A prize committee considers nominations submitted from around the world. More information can be found at


Ann Jones received the 2017 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal for her lifelong devotion to fire safety and having an influential role in the passage of a nationwide requirement for residential sprinklers.


The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal was established in honor of Jim Shannon, who served as NFPA president for 12 years, beginning in 2002. Mr. Shannon was a vocal advocate for home fire sprinklers and intensified NFPA’s efforts in support of requirements for this technology.


In 2007, Ms. Jones headed a legislative proposal that would give Wales authority to ensure that all new homes are fitted with automatic fire sprinklers. She worked diligently to get cross-party support for sprinklers, sought out skeptical legislators, educated them on safety benefits, and won over the fire and rescue service with her enthusiasm and belief. The sprinkler law passed in 2011, making Wales the first country to pass a nationwide requirement and providing a model for all jurisdictions to follow.


Ms. Jones is from Rhyl, a town on the northern coast of Wales. She worked for more than three decades in the Rhyl Fire Service emergency call center, skillfully handling emergencies with compassion and composure. Over the years, Jones also held a number of key leadership positions with the Fire Brigades Union, was a town councilor, county councilor, and town mayor. In addition, she has been a member of the National Assembly for Wales since 1999, and currently serves as the presiding officer. 


Ann Jones of Wales received the Shannon Advocacy Medal during NFPA's Conference & Expo in Boston.

Ken Isman receives the NFPA Standards Medal from Kerry Bell, (left) Chair of the NFPA Standards Council and Principal Engineer at UL, and NFPA President Jim Pauley.


This year’s recipient of the NFPA Standards Medal is Kenneth E. Isman, a clinical professor in Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland.


Over the years, Mr. Isman has served on the building code/safety to life, fire pumps, water cooling towers, water tanks, and sprinkler committees, and was a member of the NFPA Standards Council for seven years. Today, he continues to serve on the NFPA 101, 5000, 20, 13, 13D, and 13R committees.


He has contributed significantly to the handbooks for NFPA 13, 13D, and 13R, and played an integral role in creating the first edition of NFPA 25. In addition, he was a contributor to the Fire Pump Handbook and the Fire Protection Research Foundation High Volume/Low Speed Fans and Sprinkler Operation project. Mr. Isman incorporates 22 NFPA codes into his course curricula at the University of Maryland.


This award recognizes and honors outstanding contributions to fire safety, and the development of NFPA codes and standards. This award is the most distinguished award given by the NFPA Standards Council.

The winner of the 2016 Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention Week Award is Siemens Building Technologies for their exceptional Fire Prevention Week program.


Siemens partnered with Marvel Comics to script, design, and produce a digital and printed quad-fold comic poster. The comic illustrates how an emergency voice communication system can help spur building occupants to action. The storyline focuses on Siemens’ intelligent voice communication system and features popular Marvel Comic characters such as Iron Man and Captain America.


During Fire Prevention Week 2016, Siemens distributed the comic strip and related materials in high traffic zones throughout their six buildings at corporate headquarters and 104 field offices, local schools, and fire departments.


This award, presented during NFPA's Conference & Expo, recognizes businesses that promote fire and related safety messages to their employees and communities during Fire Prevention Week.


NFPA recently announced the theme of the 2017 Fire Prevention Week campaign, "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!", which focuses on the importance of home escape planning and practice.

The 2017 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal was awarded to “Lithium-Ion Batteries Hazard and Use Assessment – Phase 3: Sprinkler Protection Criteria for Lithium Ion Batteries Stored in Cartons” during the NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston.


The research project is the third phase in a project aimed at developing a guidance protocol for fire protection of lithium-ion batteries for storage. The reports seeks to provide technical data to NFPA 13 to fill the knowledge gap in understanding if lithium-ion batteries in storage require different storage. The research was made possible by a group of primary and contributing sponsors, contractors, and a technical panel.


The award was presented to Benjamin Ditch of FM Global, who is the project contractor, on behalf of all those involved in the project.


The Research Foundation Medal recognizes the Fire Protection Research Foundation project completed in the previous year that best exemplifies the Foundation’s fire safety mission, committee to overcome technical challenges, and the collaborative approach to execution that is the hallmark of all Foundation projects.

The Harry C. Bigglestone award is given annually at NFPA's Confernce & Expo to the paper appearing in Fire Technology that best represents excellence in the communication of fire protection concepts.


The 2017 Bigglestone Award was awarded to Enrico Ronchi, Erica D. Kuligowski, Daniel Nilsson, Richard D. Peacock, and Paul A. Reneke, for their paper entitled “Assessing the Verification and Validation of Building Fire Evacuation Models.”


This paper is intended to open a discussion on the main issues associated with the definition of a standard procedure for the verification and validation of building fire evacuation models, including the definition of the acceptance criteria of a standard verification and validation protocol. The winning paper was chosen from a pool of over 100 eligible papers.


Lead author Enrico Ronchi, an associate senior lecturer in evacuation modelling in the Department of Fire Safety Engineering at Lund University (Sweden), accepted the award on behalf of his co-authors.


This award honors the memory of Harry Bigglestone, who served as a trustee of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, and who was a fellow and past president of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize.

Three days of knowledge sharing are on tap for attendees at this year’s NFPA Conference & Expo, promised NFPA Chair Randy Tucker of The Woodlands, TX, who welcomed attendees to Boston for NFPA’s 121st annual meeting.


“In an era where things move at lightning speed individuals and organizations need to keep pace to remain relevant,” he said. “Everything you see and hear over the next few days will be concrete examples of how NFPA is doing just that.”


Mr. Tucker said he is proud of all that NFPA and its members, supporters, and friends have accomplished, and even prouder of the work that has been done in the last three years under the leadership of president Jim Pauley.


“We’ve done this while managing our resources to sustain this critical organization,” he said. “Everything we do is aimed at our singular focus: eliminate the fire problem throughout the world. Thank you for the roles you will play in making this vision a reality.”

Russell Leavitt, Chair of NFPA's Governance and Nominating Committee, presides over the election of new board members.


Jim Sullivan, Jeff Cash, and Roger Montembeault were elected to the NFPA board of directors during today's association’s annual Conference & Expo in Boston. The three-year term for each member takes effect upon the close of the conference.


Jim Sullivan is the president of IDG International Publishing Services, where he previously served as vice president of licensing, and as director of finance and administration. In 2013, he was elected a board member of FIPP, a network for global media that represents content-rich companies and individuals involved in the creation, publishing and/or sharing of quality content.


Jeff Cash is the fire chief and emergency manager for the City of Cherryville, North Carolina, Fire Department. He has been a member of the department since 1981, previously serving as a firefighter, driver engineer, captain and training officer. Cash serves as deputy executive director of the North Carolina Fire Chiefs Association, and as past president of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association and the Western North Carolina Firemen’s Association. He also serves on the executive committee of the National Volunteer Fire Council, and is a member of the NFPA Technical Committee on Fire Officer Professional Qualifications.


Roger Montembeault is the consultant/owner of The Montembeault Group, Inc. He has previously served as president/owner of Flotronix Corporation; executive vice president of General Signal Corporation; vice president of sales and marketing for Peerless Pump Co.; and general manager for Goulds Pumps. Montembeault is currently a member of the NFPA Task Group on Connectivity (NFPA 20), and is a member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE).


Two board members, Russ Leavitt and Eric Rosenbaum, were re-elected to a second term. Kwame Cooper, a retiring member of the board, was previously elected to serve as the assistant treasurer.

NFPA President Jim Pauley (center) met with the Board of Directors of Organizión Bomberos Americanos (OBA) today at NFPA's Conference & Expo (C&E).  


Eight Latin American countries were represented: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, and Uruguay.


OBA celebrated its 10th anniversary as the leading Latin America fire service organization last year. 


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