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It’s been more than 300 days since the 2016 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Conference & Expo wrapped up in Las Vegas. Attendees learned from peers about the latest products and services, and how they can help meet and maintain codes and standards in designs, construction and operation of buildings and facilities. In the meantime, organizers of the event were already preparing to ship out to Boston for the 2017 event.
Last July, the NFPA staff read through survey responses, comments and reactions that thousands of attendees submitted during the conference. More than 90 percent rated the conference between “good” and “excellent,” but there were still changes to be made.
“Several themes emerged in the responses that attendees and conference organizers agreed would enhance the experience and strengthen the learning opportunities for the professionals in attendance,” says Susan McKelvey, communication manager for NFPA. “Consequently, many meaningful tweaks have been made in 2017 that will add value to attendees’ experience both during and after the conference, including educational sessions that are more tailored to specific audiences and professions, along with more concrete takeaways and hands-on learning provided across the scale.”
According to McKelvey, the NFPA Conference & Expo helps professionals connect with peers to help “promote and foster a host of opportunities for face-to-face meetings, conversations and interactive learning that enable attendees to talk, network and connect with as many people as possible.” Connecting is the focus of this year’s event that will have more than 330 exhibitors, 15 sponsors and about 5,000 visitors coming to Boston from June 4-7.
“Learning and making connections with peers are hallmarks of NFPA’s annual conference,” McKelvey says. “We’ve incorporated half-hour breaks between sessions and comfortable lounge areas where people can meet and talk after presentations.”
Though the annual event will see its share of veterans that have been attending for many years, first-time visitors also will be stocking the convention center in Boston. NFPA organizers instruct first-timers to meet staff liaisons at booths, and to “take full advantage of all the networking opportunities” that the NFPA will offer.
There will be events focusing on many different veterans in the industry; this will also be the third year the NFPA hosts the Women in Engineering event. The panel, that had engineers from Tyco, Procter & Gamble, FM Global and the NFPA last year, highlights the invaluable roles female engineers play across multiple industries. Sponsored by Jensen Hughes, the panel is followed by an evening reception on June 4 for people to connect further on information shared in that session.
Unique sessions are scattered throughout the Conference & Expo this year, including:
The Marijuana Industry: This presentation focuses on marijuana grow facilities and uses case studies to look at common issues faced during the plan, review and approval process.
Firefighter Health: Discover how toxic and carcinogen-contaminated materials are transported with the crew back to the firehouse, and how departmental culture may be the single greatest obstacle to reducing the escalating occurrences of cancer within the fire service. Also learn how fire station design can be improved to limit exposures.
Drones: Learn about unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and their applications for emergency rescue, fire and law enforcement. A member of that committee will discuss the applications of use and requirements implementing UAS equipment within the U.S. National Airspace System.
Emerging Technology – Energy Storage Systems (ESS): This session will look at this emerging technology, identify key system components, current installation practices, and fire safety techniques for installers and responders.
“We want all our attendees to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to discuss the issues and challenges they’re facing with the shining stars of their respective fields, and to acquire new tools, insights and resources for better tackling them,” McKelvey says. “Overall, our goal is for attendees to walk away with a renewed sense of excitement, energy and empowerment for the work they do.”
While there are plenty of new seminars throughout this year’s conference, attendees will still have a chance to learn about the latest issues, opportunities and challenges for fire protection through returning sessions.
“We always offer sessions on NFPA codes and standards that will be voted on during the NFPA Technical Meeting. This year that includes NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code,” McKelvey says.
Everything will happen in the heart of Beantown at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The location and conference center will combine American history and new age technology.
“Boston is a fun, history-packed city that offers endless opportunities for dining and site-seeing. It is also easily accessible from many New England states, which allows many attendees to come to the event by car,” McKelvey says. “Plus, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is a new facility offering state of the art technology and free Wi-Fi.”
People can learn more about the conference by visiting nfpa.org/conference. If you have not registered for the event, you can still do so before or during the conference.
Visitors are encouraged to be on the lookout for survey cards because they will have a hand in making sure the 2018 Conference & Expo lives up the NFPA’s standards.