The National Fire Protection Association held its annual Conference & Expo June 13-16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center where more than 7,000 professionals – from engineers, building managers, contractors, manufacturers and safety educators — were in attendance. The 2016 expo featured the most attendees since 2007.
NFPA President Jim Pauley kicked off the conference by highlighting the association’s 120-year journey and collaboration with stakeholders to reduce loss from fire, electrical and related hazards.
Three presenters covered the latest advances in prevention, response, technology and data analytics. Daniel Koh, chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, told the audience about dashboards the administration is using to monitor prevention, response and planning efforts underway in Boston. The real-time CityScore initiative has had a profound impact on day-to-day operations, worker morale, citizen engagement and strategic planning.
Dr. Robin Murphy of Texas A&M University followed with a view of robotics and technology, and insight on the unmanned aerial systems improving disaster preparedness, outreach and recovery throughout the world. Bart van Leeuwen, a career firefighter and data expert from the Netherlands, later spoke about keeping communities and firefighters safe.
For the first time the NFPA Expo featured a Discovery District – a hands-on area, including a Smart Solutions Showcase where attendees learned about technological advances, including firefighter dispatch systems, GIS locators, advanced building information solutions and distributed sensors. A robotics “Petting Zoo” offered a glimpse at artificial intelligence for mobile robots and details on how disaster robotics are being deployed to help with crises.
NFPA also debuted its new Data Analytics Sandbox where stakeholders share and use data to create solutions that will reduce risk, foster better efficiencies, enhance first-responder safety and deliver cost savings. This new space also included a full-size food truck with code experts providing tips and an alternative fuel vehicle showcase where emergency response tactics were discussed.
NFPA’s Expo, with more than 370 exhibitors, also attracted large crowds interested in evaluating products and seeing the latest trends in fire and life safety.
This year’s program featured nearly 140 education sessions across 12 tracks, the opportunity to learn directly from industry experts and the chance to earn continuing education units. Changes to the National Electrical Code were voted on during the tech session and spotlighted during sessions throughout the week.
New casual learning forums, in the spirit of the popular, online seminars Ted Talks, were introduced this year so attendees could learn about relevant topics in small bites. NFPA also offered attendees the chance to go offsite and witness a live side-by-side burn, sponsored by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, at a nearby fire department. The burn was captured via a live social media feed seen, within minutes, by more than 10,000 viewers.
With delegations from Canada, Costa Rica, Shanghai, Ecuador, Thailand, Bangladesh, Egypt, São Paulo, China, Australia, Finland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, the extent of NFPA’s international reach was evident at the expo. Earlier this year, NFPA also held a summit in the United Arab Emirates to engage stakeholders who could not travel to the expo due to Ramadan.
The 2017 NFPA Expo is set for June 4-7 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.