Considered by many to be the fire/life-safety industry's most significant annual assembly, the NFPA Conference & Expo is noted for its breadth of educational curriculum aimed at keeping stakeholders current with technological advancements.
Returning June 12-15 to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, the 2011 conference is expected to attract more than 5,000 fire, security, electrical and life-safety professionals. Geared to provide an exchange of ideas between experts in these fields, the conference furthers the National Fire Protection Association's mission to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards.
Significantly, many of the meetings held during the event will result in new safety and building codes that will be voted on at the NFPA's technical meeting (June 14-15).
In the following conference preview, you can learn more about the individual session tracks along with other activities being held throughout the weeklong gathering.
Specialized Education, Training
This year the conference will offer more than 130 educational sessions, led by subject experts and leading code authorities. A dozen conference tracks will help attendees gain experience in their individual disciplines, along with a chance to earn continuing education credits (CEUs) that can be applied toward licensing requirements. Upon completion, attendees will receive 2.1 CEUs for three-day seminars, 1.8 CEUs for the three-day NFPA 70E Certificate of Educational Achievement, 1.4 CEUs for two-day seminars, and .7 CEUs for one-day seminars.
Preparations for the 2011 sessions began last summer with a call for presentations that went out to tens of thousands of NFPA members and other professionals.
"We received approximately 300 proposals for the event," says Erik Holden, who is the NFPA's senior project manager for training development. "The review committee, which is made up of about a dozen NFPA technical staff and a dozen external industry experts, reviewed and ranked the proposals. The proposals were selected based on topic, speaker credentials, and available space."
In organizing the curriculum, an emphasis is placed on providing training and information that practitioners can use on the job immediately. Even electronic security contractors who devote only a portion of their portfolio to fire/life-safety systems and services have much to benefit from the conference, Holden says.
In particular, security dealers and integrators should look to take advantage of the detection and notification track. Included here is a session on commissioning and integrated testing of fire/life-safety systems, plus numerous sessions on emergency communications systems.
"There are other sessions outside of the track that [installing security contractors] may also find useful," he says. "For example, we have a few sessions on electrical safety [NFPA 70E]. We also have a one-day post-conference seminar entitled 'Fire Alarm Interfaces' [June 16], so people can learn about the different systems and equipment controlled or monitored by the fire alarm system."
Given NFPA's vital role in developing codes and standards, it stands to reason there are more sessions devoted to this subject matter than any other track. In all, 27 sessions feature expert guidance on the practical application of NFPA codes and standards, as well as information on recent updates and changes.
"I think it's a very critical time for systems integrators to pay close attention to the changes in the code," says Chuck Wilson, executive director of the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA). "Sweeping changes have occurred, especially in NFPA 72, chapter 24, that our members need to be familiar with right now."
A series of one-, two- and three-day pre-conference seminars will be held June 10-12. On June 12, the final pre-conference session will conclude prior to the event's grand opening of the expo at 3:30 p.m. A networking reception will follow at 6 p.m.
New for this year is a series of post-conference seminars held on June 16 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Session titles include, "NFPA 99: Standard for Health Care Facilities Update"; "NFPA 3: Recommended Practice on Commissioning and Integrated Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems"; "NFPA 101: Life Safety Code Changes"; and "Fire Alarm Interfaces."
Pre- and post-conference seminars are offered at a substantial discount from NFPA's regular seminar pricing.