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TAKE NOTE: 2015 NFPA Conference & Expo - June 22-25, 2015 - Chicago

Please take special note of next year’s date and location:  The 2015 NFPA Conference & Expo® is scheduled for June 22-25, 2015 at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Looking for Speakers! The Call for Presentations is open and proposals are due by September 15.

The 2015 NFPA Conference & Expo is scheduled for June 22-25 at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois.  

Share your knowledge and best practices with others! Submit your ideas for conference session topics in the following areas: Electrical, Fire Protection Engineering, Fire and Emergency Services, Emergency Preparedness/Business Continuity, Building and Life Safety, Health Care, Loss Control/Prevention, Detection and Notification, Fire Suppression, Codes and Standards, Public Education, Sustainability and Research. Speakers receive a complimentary registration to the conference.

All proposals must be submitted online by Monday, September 15. Submit your proposal now!   

Chair’s Message

Las Vegas, Nevada, was the exciting venue for the outstanding 2014 NFPA Conference & Expo. During this event, the annual Fire Service Section meeting was held to discuss many important matters, including the election of new officers. At that time, I was chosen as the new Chairman of the Fire Service Board of Directors. I consider it a great honor and privilege to serve in this capacity, and as such I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to several board members for their incredible contributions to the Fire Service Section.

On behalf of the NFPA, its members, and the individuals that we serve in the fire service, I would like to thank our outgoing board members for their time and devotion to this work. Kirk Owen, who has served in all of the positions on the Board, is leaving after many years of hard work and dedication. Words cannot express enough appreciation for all that he has done. Also, I would like to thank Steve Lumry for his service to the Fire Service Section as well.

Peter McMahon, our outgoing Chair has been an inspiration and incredible mentor. He has provided outstanding leadership for the Board during his tenure. As immediate past Section Chair, Peter will serve as Nominating Committee Chair.

I also would like to introduce you to two new Board members that were selected during the June meeting: Michael Weider from IFSTA/Fire Protection Publications and Michael A. Young from the Plymouth Massachusetts Fire Department. We are looking forward to their service on the Board.

Finally, we encourage you take a moment to read this newsletter, and please feel free to contact us if you have any comments or suggestions for the Board. Your input is greatly appreciated!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve you,

Gary L. Neilson
Fire Service Section Board of Directors


What is the weakest link and what does that mean? That was the topic of a lengthy discussion at the last meeting of the NFPA Fire and Emergency Services Protective Clothing and Equipment Correlating Committee. Recent work to improve the SCBA lens from thermal failure was the genesis of the discussion. It was generally acknowledged that was the weakest link in a firefighter’s PPE ensemble. With the improved thermal performance of the lens, what is now the weakest link? For most fire departments, it is probably the hood.

The Correlating Committee discussion was really focused on what does the weakest link mean? Should there always be a focus on the weakest link? Is there benefit to having a weakest link such as the hood to alert firefighters when they are about to exceed the protective performance properties of their PPE? As the discussion ended, there was total agreement that firefighters are not taught to understand the limits of their protective clothing or they fail to heed the instruction.

Firefighters are quick to discard the "User Instruction, Safety and Training Guide" that comes with their PPE. This guide was originally developed when a group of firefighters successfully sued a PPE manufacturer when they were burned while wearing their NFPA compliant PPE. The ruling was that though the PPE performed as designed and met NFPA standards, there was a "failure to warn" that PPE had limitations. Earlier this year a similar lawsuit was filed and the PPE manufacturer was successful in defending its product because there was ample warning provided and the PPE was NFPA compliant.

The premier source of information about PPE is the F.I.E.R.O. Fire PPE Symposium. NFPA is one of the sponsors of this biennial event. The next one will be March 16-18, 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Raleigh. It includes presentations by industry and fire service PPE experts, a networking forum, an exhibit area and a tour of T-PACC (Total Protection and Comfort Center), the leading PPE research facility in the world at N.C. State University. This is where the firefighting PPE world gathers for two and a half days of education. Information and on-line registration can be found at

It is imperative that every firefighter read the warning labels on all the equipment they use, especially their PPE. This is underscored by the "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY CODE" for emergency responders adopted by FEMSA (Fire Equipment Manufacturers Service Association). It reads:

  1. Firefighting and Emergency Response are inherently dangerous activities requiring proper training in their hazards and the use of extreme caution at all times.
  2. It is your responsibility to read and understand any user’s instructions, including purpose and limitations, provided with any piece of equipment you may be called upon to use.
  3. It is your responsibility to know that you have been properly trained in Firefighting and Emergency Response and in the use, precautions, and care of any equipment you may be called upon to use.
  4. It is your responsibility to be in proper physical condition and to maintain the personal skill level required to operate any equipment you may be called upon to use.
  5. It is your responsibility to know that your equipment is in operable condition and has been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in death, burns or other severe injury.

Article from FSS E-Board member, Vice Chair Robert Tutterow