Dozens of fire marshals from the United States and abroad gathered at NFPA’s Massachusetts headquarters last week for the 2017 State Fire Marshals Forum. Presentations and discussion at the two-day event centered on timely fire service concerns such as firefighter cancer and energy storage systems.
This year's forum saw the return of Canadian fire marshals, who did not attend last year's event, and the inclusion of fire marshals from Latin America for the first time ever. "It was a great opportunity for all of the attendees to work with their peers and network," said Steven Sawyer, NFPA's fire code regional director and executive secretary of the International Fire Marshals Association, who organized the event. "In advance, we invited attendees to identify the topics that matter most to them—and that proved to be a formula for success. This year’s program addressed persistent enforcement challenges and offered insight on some of the new hazards that AHJs and others are dealing with today."
The forum agenda included presentations by staff at NFPA and the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) on firefighter cancer and contamination, energy storage systems, economic analysis, tall wood buildings, data collection, community risk reduction, and more. Other topics discussed included fires in buildings under construction and combustible exterior wall assemblies. "The forum is all about helping enforcers and making them more effective and efficient in doing their important work," said Casey Grant, executive director of the FPRF.
NFPA offers a host of resources on everything that was discussed at the forum.
For example, it is the only organization to maintain a comprehensive list of resources, including training, on energy storage systems. NFPA also has webpages containing resources on construction fires and combustible exterior wall assemblies—topics that are addressed by NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations, and NFPA 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components, respectively.
Additionally, NFPA Journal has published feature articles on many of these topics; its May/June 2017 cover story, "Facing Cancer," for instance, draws attention to firefighter cancer, while its March/April 2017 cover story, "The Outliers," touches on tall wood buildings.