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It’s always such an exciting time of year when the NFPA Conference & Expo gets kicked off, and this year is no different. Opening General Session typically starts us off, and it’s where we get to hear from NFPA President Jim Pauley as well as the current chairman of the board of directors, Keith Williams, who give an update on what we have been doing at NFPA to help attendees do their jobs better. This year was a bit different. We did hear from Jim and Keith, but instead of an update on new tools, resources, and plans that attendees will learn about throughout the rest of the event, we heard more about making the world safer.


Safety does not exist in a vacuum.  However, Jim Pauley told the crowd that we have been treating it like it does.  The policy maker makes isolated or ill-informed decisions and everyone else has to compensate for the consequences.  Valuable research falls on deaf ears because few outside of the research community are paying attention.  Fire departments focus on responding quickly with enough equipment.  Building owners worry about energy efficiency because fires are really rare, right? School officials talk about removing pull stations because they think they are not needed at a time when the threat of active shooters consume their attention.


But as Jim pointed out, it’s time to change the way we are all thinking.  Safety is a system – an ecosystem. 

NFPA designed the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem as the framework to tie all of the key efforts or components together – all of the essential elements to keep people and property safe in today’s world. It is a tool for everyone to use to organize their thinking and have a greater impact on fire safety. 


This is becoming the NFPA mantra. We have translated the information into a number of languages. We are speaking throughout the world helping those devoted to safety understand the ecosystem and work on the various elements. This notion is resonating from a post Grenfell London to the smallest of Caribbean islands.  It speaks to code officials thwarted by insufficient resources, policy makers designing a regulatory framework and first responders seeking to better protect their communities from fire and every other hazard they face.


We need a renewed commitment to the very things that have driven down the number of people who have lost their lives in fires and the amount of loss. It takes all of us working together, promoting and doing our part to shore up the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem.


Jim’s challenge to the audience and all of you reading this now. is to change your thinking.  Don’t think only about your piece of the puzzle – think about the system.  Where there are gaps, work to fill them. What can you learn that will help you shore up the ecosystem?  What are you going to do once you have gotten that information?


Chairman of the Board, Keith Williams, added more weight to the importance of the Ecosystem by talking about how different shifts and changes occur internationally, in our respective backyards and in our industries, so does the safety landscape, and as a byproduct – the challenges ahead of us. And yet what is paramount is people, the communities that we serve, the professionals that use our resources, and seek our services – they rely on us to effectively keep up with new hazards that surface across the globe.


Keeping up with that progress or potential issues can be daunting. And at the same time exhilarating. Keith said that he knew “this from the work that [he does] at UL and sees it as a member of NFPA’s board of directors. NFPA’s board is especially excited about the direction the association is taking to meet the ever-changing needs of society. It truly is an invigorating time to be aligned with NFPA, whether as a member of the staff who works so hard to bring ideas to life, a member or a volunteer who adds your expertise to the codes and standards process, or as a professional, who benefits from the great research, resources and respected expertise that has been the hallmark of NFPA for more than a century.”

Last night, a very special evening was held here in San Antonio as NFPA Conference & Expo gets underway. The NFPA Board of Directors, our Standards Council and members of the NFPA staff gathered to recognize thirteen incredible individuals in seven distinct award categories which are the highest recognitions bestowed by NFPA.


These individuals have invested significant time and effort in reducing risk in our world through big ideas, careful consideration, progressive actions, and creative collaborations. Through their actions, they are advocating for the components of the fire and life safety ecosystems in ways that are resonating with the global community – and making our world safer.


Award: The Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention Week Award

Honoree: Robbie Stone


This award recognizes individuals and organizations that help educate neighbors, employees, and families about fire prevention and safety during Fire Prevention Week.  Robbie Stone is Emergency Management director and fire chief of the Atkinson County, Georgia fire department who was instrumental in creating a new fire safety program that resulted in a 30% drop in fire calls. This leader and his department have also stepped up their fire prevention efforts, even as they dealt with reduced staffing, spending a considerable amount of time educating the next generation of fire safety advocates in local schools, and raising awareness of Fire Prevention Week messaging.


Award: Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award

Honoree: Barry J. Brickey


This award honors an educator who works for a local fire department or fire marshal’s office in the U.S. or Canada, and uses NFPA materials in consistent and creative ways. The recipient must demonstrate excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community, and view NFPA as the leading source for fire safety information.


Barry Brickey has been teaching NFPA’s Learn Not to Burn® program to elementary school children for more than a decade. Shortly after implementing Learn Not to Burn, he began educating elderly residents and community organizers about fire and fall prevention strategies using NFPA’s Remembering When™ program materials.


A passionate safety advocate, Barry has filled some big dog shoes over the years as the voice of Sparky the Fire Dog® during national campaigns and media tours. His ability to collaborate with others has resulted in billboard campaigns that have promoted Fire Prevention Week themes, home fire sprinkler information, and smoke alarms. He was also a key contributor to a team effort that reduced call numbers at a high-volume apartment complex in his jurisdiction.


Award: Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal

Honorees: Daniel Brandon, Matthew Hoehler, Brigit A.-L. Östman, and Joseph Su


This medal recognizes a Fire Protection Research Foundation project completed in the previous year that best exemplifies the Research Foundation’s fire safety mission, commitment to overcoming technical challenges, and collaborative execution of projects.


The winning project for this year’s Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal involved true collaboration to execute a study that aimed to isolate what contributions timber had on a compartment fire in order to compare the performance of cross-laminated timber systems to other structural systems commonly used in tall buildings. This work will serve in informing building codes, emergency response techniques, and in fact has already led to changes in manufacturing standards. 


This award recognizes everyone that was involved with the project and includes the research team, the project sponsors, and the technical panel.  For this project, the National Research Council of Canada and the Research Institute of Sweden were contracted for technical services, and full-scale testing was conducted at the National Fire Research Laboratory at NIST.  This study was sponsored by the American Wood Council (through a grant from the USDA) and the Property Insurance Research Group.


Award: Harry C. Bigglestone award

Honoree: Wojciech Węgrzyński


This award is given annually to the paper appearing in Fire Technology that best represents excellence in the communication of fire protection concepts. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize from NFPA.


This year’s Bigglestone award winning technical paper was selected out of an impressive array of 103 articles. The work focused on developing guidance for coupled wind-fire analysis, which applies to wildfires, tunnels, indoor flows, and other scenarios.  The paper provides valuable information for engineers and designers by presenting best practices for how to incorporate wind modeling into fire analysis.  The findings will help optimize computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis of wind and fire so that they can work to prevent and predict different scenarios. Wojciech’s work will have an impact on evacuation strategies, mitigation measures, and resiliency plans.


Wojciech has spent a significant part of his career focused on how architectural features of a building impact smoke control performance, and how to make smoke exhaust systems less expensive and more efficient. He is an assistant professor and deputy head of the Fire Research Department at ITB, the Polish Building Research Institute in Warsaw, a member of technical committees working to develop new European standards for smoke control, and a vice president of the Polish Chapter of SFPE.


Award: Standards Medal

Honoree: Stephen King


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


Stephen has enjoyed a 30-year career with the Fire Department of New York, eventually climbing to the role of Battalion Commander. On September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center buildings were struck, he was the citywide safety chief, arriving on scene within nine minutes of the first strike. This fire leader was operating a command post when the second tower was hit, causing debris to come crashing down. His knee was shattered, resulting in a permanent disability. He retired after that fateful day, but has remained actively involved with the fire service since.


He serves as chairman of the NFPA Technical Committee on Structural and Proximity Fire Fighting Protective Clothing and Equipment, and as a member of the Correlating Committee on Fire and Emergency Services Protective Clothing and Equipment. He has 10 years experience with the Naval Reserve; has been a commercial instrument pilot for the United States since 1970; and holds a bachelor’s degree in fire service administration and a masters in protection management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


Award: James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal

Honoree: Jon Nisja


This award was established in honor of Jim Shannon, who served as NFPA’s president for 12 years. Shannon was a tireless advocate known for promoting fire safety in the interest of the general public and the fire service. Jon demonstrates comparable passion, he started his fire service career in 1978, and 15 years later began to focus his efforts on fire prevention and fire investigation. Serving as fire marshal for two communities, he has been a fire safety supervisor with the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division for the past 10 years, where he oversees fire loss data, fire protection, and training. A former president of the Fire Marshals Association of Minnesota, our honoree is also a past president of the International Fire Marshals Association. He has authored chapters in five books, and is widely known for his knowledge of fire protection interests, including fire safety history, means of egress, fire protection systems, building construction, and using performance measures to show effectiveness.


Award: Philip J. DiNenno Prize

Honorees: Roger Allard, Robert G. Bill, Gunnar Heskestad, and Hsiang-Cheng Kung


The prestigious Philip J. DiNenno Prize recognizes groundbreaking innovations that have had a significant impact in the building, fire and electrical safety fields. The prize, which comes with $50,000 in prize money, 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.


This year’s DiNenno award is being given to the four individuals above who have played a significant and substantive role in the successful promulgation of truly effective, occupancy-specific, fast-response sprinklers, which involve three independent technologies related to sprinkler response.


Because of the four award winner’s hard work and perseverance, the following statements can now be made with certainty: first, the use of Response Time technology has been overwhelmingly accepted worldwide for the characterization of fast response links. Second, Quick Response residential fire sprinklers are widely accepted and used in residential settings worldwide. And last but not least, Early Suppression Fast Response fire sprinklers are broadly used in commercial and industrial settings worldwide.

Our attendees have arrived, exhibitors have set up, our presenters are standing by, and we're gearing up to make the next few days as interesting and impactful as possible for the fire and life safety professionals who have gathered here in San Antonio, Texas to enhance their code-related knowledge and develop new skills.


We'll be offering more than 120 educational sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, followed by the annual NFPA Technical Meeting on Thursday. We also couldn’t forget to mention the hundreds of exhibitors on the show floor that bring to life the products and services needed to meet and maintain compliance with prevailing codes and standards in the design, construction and operation of buildings and facilities of every kind, as well as many special events and activities!


If you weren’t able to make it down to Texas this year, be sure to follow along with this blog, and on social media using our hashtag #NFPAConf for updates throughout the show. Plus, you can start planning your trip to Orlando in 2020!

We also want to take a moment as NFPA Conference & Expo kicks off, to thank all of our generous sponsors who helped make this week's event happen. If you are an attendee, you won't want to miss stopping by these sponsors' booths in the Expo hall to see all of the new things they are up to!



We hope everyone has a great week here in San Antonio!

We are now accepting nominations for the 2019 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal, which recognizes outstanding advocacy efforts aimed at reducing losses associated with fire, electrical, or other hazards.

The advocacy medal honors an individual or group that shares the values of former NFPA President James Shannon. During his 12-year tenure as president, Shannon had an exceptional record of advocacy efforts tied to life safety issues. Under his leadership, NFPA considerably advanced its mission of fire safety, most notably by spearheading the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes and advocating for fire sprinklers in all new homes.

Nominees should also be involved in advocacy efforts that advance NFPA’s mission, take into account cost-effectiveness, and involve collaboration with NFPA and other organizations. Previous medal recipients include Jim Dalton, whose efforts supporting a career-long commitment to fire safety led to the passage of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. Legislator Ann Jones received the medal in 2017 following her efforts leading to a nationwide requirement for home fire sprinklers in Wales.

Nominations are open to members of the fire service or any other person or group whose advocacy efforts meet the award’s criteria. The medal recipient will be honored at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in San Antonio, Texas, in June 2019. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging.

The nominee application, available for download, is due January 11, 2019 and can be sent to

We want to take a moment as NFPA Conference & Expo kicks off, to thank all of our generous sponsors who helped make this week's event happen. If you are an attendee, you won't want to miss stopping by these sponsors' booths in the Expo hall to see all of the new things they are up to!

Andrew Klein, Principle with AS Klein Engineering, and Lynne Kilpatrick, Fire Marshal in Sunnyvale, CA led an education session on ‘On-Demand Mobile Fueling; Enforcing Existing Regulations and Evaluating Future Needs” at NFPA Conference & Expo.    
On-demand mobile fueling is an emerging industry created by a number of Silicon Valley startups that caught the attention of Kilpatrick. Customers can fill up their automobile gas tanks through a smartphone app that sends a truck carrying gas to their parked car, where a serviceman pumps the requested amount of gallons. The problem with this seemingly brilliant, time-saving new business model, is that the fueling companies were operating in violation of local fire codes.    
Kilpatrick and the California State Fire Marshal’s Office set out to develop and submit code change proposals to both the ICC International Fire Code and NFPA 30A Motor Fuel Dispensing code. The fire service and the industry were fairly divided on some of the issues of the proposal, including where the fueling would be allowed, ignition sources & setbacks, permitting among others. To compromise, much of the code language leaves the decisions of some of these issues up to the AHJ.    
The 2018 edition of ICC’s International Fire Code, and the newly approved 2017 edition of NFPA 30A have now accepted the on-demand mobile fueling proposed additions.    
To learn more about what issues are covered and what is allowed in this new practice, read the NFPA Journal feature, New Fuels, New Fueling from the May/June issue or download the education session handouts from the Conference website (PDF).
As the fire service and enforcers learn more about this new industry, the codes will be able to be updated with regulations around some issues that are not currently addressed, including vehicle inspections, weights & measures, sales tax, insurance policies, environmental protection, etc as well as incorporating future applications such as hydrogen mobile fueling and marine fueling.
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions - with attached audio/video - here.

On July 13th, from 1:55 - 3:30pm ET, the American Wood Council will be hosting a free webinar on Fire Protection during Construction. This 90-minute webinar will introduce attendees to several of the recent major fires and their causes, the many fire-related hazards that exist on a construction site, the International Building and Fire Code and NFPA requirements for fire protection safeguards during construction and solutions for developing simple fire safety strategies. There also will be information on building materials and construction industry efforts to reduce fire losses.

Learning objectives for the webinar include: 
• Identify recent major fires and their reported causes
• Identify the I Code regulations and linkage to NFPA 241 for fire safety during building construction alteration and demolitions
• Develop a model fire plan for buildings under construction, alteration or demolition
• Identify existing building materials and construction industry resources for training, education and mitigation


NFPA's Division Director for the Technical Services department, Guy Colonna, will be one of the webinar presenters. He has served as Staff Liaison to committees dealing with safeguards at dust hazard process locations, explosion protection systems including venting of deflagrations, and chemical classification and is the editor of the NFPA Guide to Combustible Dusts. He currently manages the NFPA hot work training program conducted in collaboration with the Boston Fire Department.


Allan B. Fraser, CBI, CPCA, is NFPA’s Senior Building Code Specialist and will co-present next Thursday. His projects include staffing six technical committees and NFPA’s “Disability Access Review and Advisory Committee". He represents NFPA on a number of committees of other organizations. He’s been on State and Regional Technical Committees, taught Building Code at professional seminars and continuing education programs and holds both State and National Certification.


Rob Neale, the International Code Council Vice President for Government Relations: National Fire Service Activities will round out the panel. Education credits will be awarded as well. 


Register today for this webinar.

Research tells us that firefighters face a higher risk of many types of cancers, especially respiratory, digestive, and urinary system cancers. As the number of firefighters and their families affected by occupational cancer steadily increases, improving education, prevention measures and support are imperative. 


NFPA will be participating in the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Symposium that is being held in Phoenix, Arizona from September 7-8, 2017. Presentations and workshops (including one by NFPA's Casey Grant) will cover current research, best practices in prevention strategies, presumptive legislation, available benefits, and other relevant topics. 


If you are interested in attending and learning what steps you and your organization can take to reduce the risk of occupational cancers, get more information and register. Be sure to use discount code NFPA to save $50 of your registration! ,Contact Tricia Sanborn at or 410-353-0216 with any questions. 

The “Fire Service Safety Stand Down Quiz” Sweepstakes is back as part of the annual Safety Stand Down campaign! The sweepstakes is hosted by NFPA along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), and consists of an interactive online quiz that emphasizes the importance of the 2017 Safety Stand Down theme, “Mayday, Self Rescue & Rapid Intervention.” 


The NFPA, IAFC and NVFC are asking career firefighters, volunteer firefighters, EMTs and other fire service personnel to take the 2017 quiz, which will be available June 12 through June 24 at The quiz contains 17 questions related to “Mayday” situations and the response tactics required when rescuing a trapped firefighter.


Everyone who completes the quiz will be automatically entered into the sweepstakes; 200 randomly selected participants will win a specially designed challenge coin commemorating this year’s Safety Stand Down theme.


Safety Stand Down is a joint initiative of the IAFC and NVFC. Formerly called International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week, the educational and awareness initiative takes place June 18-24. With this year’s theme, members of the fire and emergency services are encouraged to review self-rescue strategies and protocol for rescuing trapped firefighters that week. This year’s campaign and training refreshers apply to chiefs, incident commanders, company officers, and firefighters.



Test your knowledge today at


On the 70th anniversary of the Cocoanut Grove fire a few years back, three survivors told NFPA their stories. Ann Marie Gallagher was a 16-year-old girl from New Hampshire who was in Boston with her family, and was one of the survivors who we featured in the video above. Her parents, her boyfriend, and his father were among the 492 people the fire killed. Today's Boston Globe shares Ann Marie's story as she recently passed away on May 24th at age 90 from complications of a fall. 


Also today, during NFPA Conference & Expo, Casey Grant led an education session on the unsolved mystery of the Cocoanut Grove fire to a jam-packed room of intrigued attendees. Casey shared information on how fast the fire spread through the entire building, some of the existing theories on it's ignition source, and the fire modeling exercises that students from Worcester Polytechnic University have conducted over the last several years to piece together information from the historic fire that has been helping to determine what happened, and what may or may not have made a difference that night. all of the information Casey has been able to collect and synthesize can be found on a newly created website, for others to review. He keeps an open call for missing data that will help complete the picture as well. 


Download Casey's slide presentation (PDF) from the Conference website. 



NFPA Conference & Expo begins this upcoming Sunday. One easy way to stay organized and navigate the many events, sessions and activities is to download our mobile app. With the NFPA 2017 C&E mobile app, you can:


  • Stay organized with up-to-the-minute Exhibitor, Speaker, and Event information
  • Sync the app across all of your devices with Multi-Device Sync
  • Receive important real-time communications from the NFPA
  • Build a personalized schedule and bookmark exhibitors
  • Take notes and download event handouts and presentations
  • Rate the sessions you attend and comment on them, too
  • Interactively locate sessions and exhibitors on the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center maps
  • Visit your bookmarked exhibitors with the Quick Route
  • Find attendees and connect with your colleagues through Friends
  • Stay in-the-know and join in on social media with #NFPAConf
  • Share your event photos and experiences with the Photo Gallery
  • Watch NFPA videos
  • Find Boston, MA Local Places
  • And much, much more!


Downloading the app is easy. Use your device's QR code scanner for quick access. You can always search the Apple app store or Google Play for "NFPA Conference & Expo." Note: if you have the NFPA 2016 app on your device, tap "exit to show list" from the dashboard and select NFPA 2017 from there. 

The NFPA Conference & Expo brings to life the products and services needed to meet and maintain compliance with prevailing codes and standards in the design, construction and operation of buildings and facilities of every kind.


Be sure to visit the Expo from June 4-6th in Boston, and:


  • Evaluate thousands of products over three days
  • Meet the experts at the NFPA booth
  • Find answers to code questions and interpretations
  • Discover solutions to your technical challenges
  • Develop specs for a current project
  • Stay current with latest innovations
  • Identify suppliers actively supporting the NFPA mission
  • Grow your personal and professional contacts


Our exhibit hours are as follows;


Sunday, June 4: 2:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Monday, June 5: 10:30 am – 3:30 pm

Tuesday, June 6: 10:30 am – 2:30 pm


Check out the growing list of exhibitors and plan your visit!

NFPA Conference & Expo is fast approaching and we are getting excited! (If you haven't registered yet, take a minute to do so.) Opening General Session is always one of the most popular events of the week, and this year it will take place on Sunday, June 4 beginning at 1:00pm EDT. 


For those of you who can't make it to NFPA Conference & Expo in person this year, we have an exciting announcement for you. We will be live streaming the complete opening General Session through Facebook LIVE, beginning at 1:00pm EDT. The session, and live stream, will feature NFPA President Jim Pauley and Board of Directors Chair Randy Tucker, as they discuss the current state of affairs at NFPA as well as some of the new exciting projects and initiatives that we have been working hard on.


Then, you'll be able to join us for two incredibly engaging keynotes to see how the future is being realized today through satellites, nano technology, augmented reality and more. See how Erin Baumgartner, Assistant Director of MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory, tackles Big Data, using creative visualizations to simplify complex information. Hear how ubiquitous sensors are monitoring everything from traffic flow to sewage flow so we can better understand and solve the problems of our urban environment. Tech Futurist Tom Koulopoulos, Founder/CEO of Delphi Group, will show us how the Industrial Internet of Things is enabling an entirely new set of tools and opportunities for first responders, builders, enforcers, the electrical community and more. From advances in wearables to deep imaging and the prevalence of real time sensors, there’s a new landscape to navigate. 


Be sure to tune in to NFPA's Facebook page for the LIVE stream of opening General Session on Sunday, June 4 at 1:00pm EDT.

International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD) is observed on May 4th, and is a time where the world’s community can recognize and honor the sacrifices that firefighters make to ensure that their communities and environment are as safe as possible. It is also a day in which current and past firefighters can be thanked for their contributions.


IFFD was instituted after a proposal was emailed out across the world on January 4, 1999 due to the deaths of five firefighters in tragic circumstances in a wildfire at Linton in Victoria, Australia. It is a day for emergency services to run events such as: memorial services; fetes, open days and fundraisers for relevant campaigns; long service and other presentations; or a media campaign to focus attention on the role, activities and key messages of firefighters and fire organizations. In turn, communities can:

  • show support for all firefighters worldwide
  • recognize their level of commitment and dedication
  • remember those lost or injured in the line of duty
  • say “Thank you”


THANK YOU from all of us at NFPA to all firefighters around the world today (and everyday!)

Fire Alarms and At Risk Populations reportTo understand the impact of fire alarm notification signals on individuals with sound and light sensitivities, the Foundation conducted an initial literature review to determine what information could be found on this topic. This literature review discovered that there was very limited information on the topic, and the NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code Technical Committee needed more technical information to develop guidance on how to address this issue. This project gathers additional information on how fire alarm notification signals impact high risk populations by conducting targeted interviews with experts (e.g. teachers, therapists, etc.)


"Fire Alarms and At Risk Populations" authored by Bryan L. Hoskins, Ph.D. and Duane C. Helmberger from Oklahoma State University, can now be downloaded free of charge from the Research Foundation website. 

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