New NFPA conference now in second year

NFPA says Fire & Life Safety Conference so successful last year it’s now an annual event
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

QUINCY, Mass.—Small and personal, more focused and very hands-on.

Those words describe the National Fire Protection Association’s second annual Fire & Life Safety Conference, to be held Dec. 12-14 in Orlando, Fla., according to Lorraine Carli, NFPA VP of communications.

“We actually started this last year and it was very successful so we’ve brought it back this year,” she told Security Systems News. “And really it’s a very different conference from our annual meeting.”

NFPA, based here, also holds an annual NFPA Conference & Expo, which this year was in Boston and will be in Las Vegas next June. That event typically draws about 5,000 attendees each year.

But space at the newer Fire & Life Safety Conference is limited to just a few hundred people, Carli said, “so it’s a much more personal interaction with the experts.”

Also, she said, while the annual meeting has numerous tracks, this conference’s more than 60 educational sessions will focus on four tracks: building and life safety; detection & alarm; suppression; and codes & standards.

In addition, Carli said, “we have featured presentations every day. The speakers are either all NFPA staff experts or people who sit on NFPA technical committees, so there are really very hands-on, nitty-gritty discussions.”

The conference also offers continuing education credits (CEUs), she said, “so it’s a great opportunity to get those CEUs you need [before the end of the year.]

The fire detection and alarm track would be of particular interest to fire dealers/installers, Carli said.

“There are 10 sessions over the course of three days just on detection and alarm issues,” she said.

She said many of those sessions are being presented by Dick Roux, NFPA senior electrical specialist and an expert on NFPA 72, the national fire alarm and signaling code.

She said that among NFPA 72 sessions that Roux is leading are an overview of emergency communications systems; a session on the elements of an effective inspection, testing and maintenance program; and performance requirements for circuits and pathways.

Among featured presentations is a Sept. 11 retrospective, which will look at the impact 9/11 had on building codes, Carli said.

The conference also will feature post-conference seminars, a new concept the NFPA introduced this June to its annual meeting in Boston.

While the conference sessions give an overview of many topics, the one-day to three-day seminars provide an “intensive learning experience” on a particular topic, Carli said. “If they can do that in addition to going to the conference … it’s a good use of their time.”

Attendees include fire installers, engineers, architects, designers, and fire service personnel, Carli said.

Tara Fraser, a fire services advisor with the Canadian province of British Columbia, attended the conference last year and said she’s hoping to go again this year.

“I thought it was an excellent conference,” Fraser told SSN. “The speakers that they had were absolutely topnotch and it was very well organized.”

Although she experienced the conference as an AHJ, Fraser believes fire installers can benefit from the networking opportunities and the educational sessions, which she said she found useful because they delved into the intent behind the codes. “I think it sticks better when you find out why things are the way they are,” she said.