The NFPA Expo held June 22-25 at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago was more than a chance to take part in the latest training sessions and peruse the newest product innovations.

It was an opportunity for the association to set a new course.

During his address in Chicago, new NFPA President Jim Pauley laid out the group’s latest mission by saying, “We help save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge and passion.” Codes and standards will remain as a critical focus, but Pauley believes NFPA “must truly transform ourselves into an information and knowledge organization – developing, adding value and delivering information, and knowledge that makes your jobs easier and helps you save lives by what you do.”

Pauley said NFPA aspires to be the global advocate for the elimination of death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.

There was plenty more going on at the NFPA Expo. Nearly 4,200 industry professionals from 56 countries were in attendance. The exhibitor hall was open for all three days and more than 300 manufacturers from the U.S. and around the world staked out their space and spent quality time with attendees.

Jerry Carter of ROC Exhibitions, the company that puts together NFPA Expo, says engagement at the show was high and reports attendees were positive about the experience. Carter said the conferences were highly regarded and the presentations that were downloaded the most were on the topics of life safety systems testing, how green structural systems in new buildings impact firefighter safety and freeze protection for water-based fire protection systems.

Tyco SimplexGrinnell was pleased with its time at the three-day Expo. “What stood out was the quality of the conversations we had with attendees, the level of their interest in our technology, and our ability to solve the biggest and most challenging problems that customers face today,” said Chris Woodcock, Tyco’s director of marketing communications.

Woodcock added fire protection engineers were especially interested in advancements that make their jobs easier and help them deliver the most value for their clients. Tyco’s SIMPLEX eServices-enabled fire alarm panels saw a lot of positive feedback after demos at the show.

“These advanced panels support addressable notification,” Woodcock said. “That increases design flexibility and enables revolutionary self-testing of appliances, as well as our suite of eServices solutions.”

Woodcock said the company believes NFPA Expo generated many leads across a variety of market sectors. Woodcock noted higher education, health care and commercial projects were the best leads.

“These markets are always strong for Tyco,” he said. “The core strength in serving those markets, combined with an improving economy in North America helped bring them to the forefront during the show. We look forward to pursuing the new opportunities generated at the show and to serving the needs of existing customers and engineers who engaged with us as the show.”

McWaneEST attended its first NFPA Expo this year and used the time to get a better understanding of the fire-protection industry.

“Our intent was to listen more than to speak,” said Francesca Dunbar, McWane’s group marketing director. “We want to better understand the importance of safe, green buildings products and how important they are to the fire-fighting community.”

The 2016 NFPA Expo is set for June 13-16 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.


 This article was originally titled “Charting a new course” in the September 2015 print edition of PM Engineer.