Latin America and the Caribbean

NFPA Attends OBA’s Annual Meeting and Summit

OBA Annual MeetingOn July 5, 2013 Panama City was host to both the Annual Assembly and Academic Council Meeting of the Organización de Bomberos Americanos (OBA), which were held in conjunction with their American Firefighters Summit in the ATLAPA Convention Center, from July 3-5, with delegations from 11 countries participating (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay & the US). NFPA was represented by Olga Caledonia, Executive Director of International Operations, and Phil Stittleburg, NFPA Chairman of the Board.

In addition to the Annual Assembly, the event included education sessions that emphasized firefighting tactics and strategies as well as training and evaluation, workshops on firefighting operations, and an exhibition area with the latest products and services for the fire service industry. As part of the educational program, Chief Stittleburg, introduced the guide developed by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and NFPA "Understanding & Implementing Standards NFPA 1500, 1720, and 1851", which assist departments in understanding and implementing NFPA standards. It examines the three standards and offers clarification, identifies manageable steps, highlights available resources to help departments reach their safety goals and provides information regarding the standards making process. The guide is currently being translated into both Spanish and Portuguese.

OBA, founded in 2006 by representatives of the National Federation of Fire Volunteers of Argentina, the Fire Department of Santiago de Chile, the Volunteer Fire Department Paraguay, the National Fire Uruguay and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Caracas, Venezuela, continues to address international concerns regarding firefighter training, safety, equipment, and fire prevention, including the use of codes and standards.

The U.S. hosted the OBA annual assembly in 2012 in conjunction with NFPA's Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Together with the NFPA, NVFC is the U.S. representative in OBA, although the NFPA is a non-voting member as we are not a fire service organization.

OBA's objectives of providing first quality education/training and tools which are uniform and consistent throughout the fire service in the Americas, is aligned with NFPA's international strategy of partnering with the fire service across the globe.

Asunción Adopts NFPA & 101

Asunción Adopts NFPA & 101While Antonio Macías, Latin-American Director for NFPA, was in Asunción, Paraguay, on June 1-2, 2013, the adoption of NFPA 1, Fire Code and of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, became a reality with the Municipal Ordinance Nbr. 245/13.

In the course of the next year, high rise buildings and assembly occupancies (shopping malls and event centers) in Asunción will have to adapt their facilities to the new Fire Prevention Ordinance.
The regulation created an interinstitutional committee formed by representatives of the construction industries, technicians and professionals from the Municipality of Asunción, members of the Volunteer Fire Department, and the School of Engineering and Architecture, coordinated by the Fire Prevention Chief, Engineer Carlos Halke. The committee will rely on Engineer Macías for advice and will adopt NFPA 1 and NFPA 101 as reference codes.

This committee will lay down guidelines for the mandatory application of the newly adopted codes, and will pursue compatibility with the General Construction Regulation (Reglamento General de la Construcción). Representatives of the construction organizations stress the joint efforts of the private and public sectors.
"With this, there’s a decision to take a safe technical step so that we never again have human and material loss incidents, and this does not mean a more expensive city, because when good engineering practices are implemented, the result is always positive", Macías said.

This approved by both Mr Arnoldo Samaniego, city mayor, and at the plenary session of the Municipal Board of the city of Asunción, seeks to update safety requirements by means of a modern regulation applicable to Latin American countries, for a growing city with increasingly bigger works.

Mr. Fernando Vigara from Spain was appointed as the first International Life Member of NFPA during the NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago. Mr. Vigara became a member of NFPA 35 years ago and was honored by James M. Shannon, President of NFPA and Olga Caledonia, executive director of the NFPA International Department.

"During my 35 years in NFPA, I’ve only had good moments and I always felt very thankful and in debt with what NFPA has done for me and for the world in fire safety matters," Mr. Vigara says. "I’ve participated in different member positions within NFPA, and I’m still a part of two Technical Committees, and I can only say that I’m proud and privileged being an active member of such prestigious institution".

First International Life Member

Fernando Vigara is the first International Life MemberMr. Fernando Vigara from Spain was appointed as the first International Life Member of NFPA during the NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago. Mr. Vigara became a member of NFPA 35 years ago and was honored by James M. Shannon, President of NFPA and Olga Caledonia, executive director of the NFPA International Department.

"During my 35 years in NFPA, I’ve only had good moments and I always felt very thankful and in debt with what NFPA has done for me and for the world in fire safety matters," Mr. Vigara says. "I’ve participated in different member positions within NFPA, and I’m still a part of two Technical Committees, and I can only say that I’m proud and privileged being an active member of such prestigious institution".

Mr. Fernando Vigara is a fire protection engineer that lives in Madrid (Spain), with a vast experience in fire protection engineering. In 1997 he funded the PCI Professional Association of Fire Protection Engineering (APICI) in Spain and the PCI Engineering Master (MIPCI) that is now delivered at the Comillas University (ICAI) in Madrid. He is at present Manager of Adventis Ingeniería, S.L., president of SFPE Iberoamerican Chapter and member of NFPA Technical Committees on gases and water mist. 

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