Firefighter John Doe welcomed attendees to the NFPA exposition floor to view fire sprinklers

Thousands of professionals tied to the fire industry attended the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) World Fire Safety Congress & Expo May 13-17 in Anaheim, Calif. The event featured a high number of educational sessions spanning the building and life safety industries, as well as an exposition with more than 250 exhibitors showing the latest in fire and life safety products.

Some manufacturers stated reflected the download trend of the past couple of years. Whether the lackluster turnout was due to the products on display or technological issues, the question remained unanswered. For the fire professionals that did attend the expo, they were able to view the latest in fire components, such as sprinklers, water pumps, annunciators, fire alarm control panels, smoke and heat detectors, and more.

The educational sessions, which began Sunday, May 13, covered specific issues and featured top NFPA officials as speakers, as well as consultants, specialists and academic scholars. From healthcare facilities to electrical wiring, fire professionals were able to choose from a number of sessions that dealt with any sector dealing with fire and life safety.

One interesting session dealt with the use of sound in emergency egress. Deborah Withington of the University of Leeds in England, who specializes in biomedical sciences, discussed how the use of directional sound with light decreases the amount of time a person takes to find his or her way out of a building engulfed with smoke or fire.

Withington showed an example of a person in a room with no sound and concluded that it took more than three minutes for the person to find an exit. In another example, showing a person in a room with light plus directional sound, the time to find an exit was cut drastically to only 15 seconds. “That’s what the body is looking for – light and sound. So give it what it wants,” Worthington said.

A standards forum presented by top NFPA standards officials covered guidelines on how members can make a motion at a technical committee session, current codes and standards issues, and the NFPA’s E-Committee initiatives. Gary Taylor, chair of the standards committee, Maureen Brodoff, associate general counsel, and Casey Grant, assistant vice president of NFPA, all clarified the concepts of Request of Comments (ROCs) and Request of Proposals (ROPs), opening up a forum for members to ask more specific questions.

Another session updated fire and security professionals on the NFPA’s premises security project, which has generated mixed reactions within the security industry. Charles Hahl with Gage-Bacock and Associates, Richard Bielen, chief systems and applications engineer for NFPA, and Ray Grill, executive vice president of RJA Group, outlined the history of this project and its current status.

Attendees were told that the standard dates back to 1994 but laid dormant for about three years before being revitalized in June 1999 with a clear direction and a changed name to cover a wider spectrum of security beyond burglar systems.

A technical committee was appointed in April and is made up of 15 members, with more members on the way. The committee’s first meeting will take place June 5 and will outline further details.

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