NFPA General Session Focuses on Leadership, Innovation and Reaching Beyond Historical Success
NFPA President Jim Pauley gave a rousing keynote to thousands of attendees who were excited to be part of the 2022 NFPA Conference & Expo, which was back in person for the first time since 2019. He said, “While we had to delay our celebration of NFPA’s 125th anniversary, it is fitting that we are here in Boston to recognize this special milestone.”
Noting that the conference was held only a short distance from the birthplace of NFPA in 1896, Pauley chronicled the 125-year past of the organization and stressed how it is driving the work NFPA does to further reduce loss and tackle the fire, life, and electrical safety issues of the times. “It is important to honor our past. But we don’t see our rich history as an easy chair to rest in, but a catapult to propel us forward - aimed at greater challenges than our predecessors experienced,” said Pauley.
He talked about the digital transformation impacting so many aspects of life. In particular, he spoke of the relevancy of NFPA LiNK™, which is dramatically changing the way professionals interact with codes and standards and related information. The digital platform provides better access to more robust information by delivering intuitive, seamless, information on demand when and where practitioners need it.
This digital transformation is also a key factor in NFPA certification and training programs. Online learning solutions feature interactive modeling, simulated training scenarios, and 3D virtual experiences. NFPA recently launched a new platform to make applying for and renewing certifications easier than ever and introduced remote proctoring for certification exams.
Pauley also talked about one of the most prevalent fire threats today – wildfire – and a new NFPA initiative to reverse the disastrous trend. Outthink Wildfire™ is rooted in two facts – one is that wildfires are going to happen, whether they are caused by nature, by people, or the built environment. And two, that fire departments will never be able to save all the property in the path of a wildfire. Outthink Wildfire is about how we build, where we build, and how we bring policymakers, first responders, and the public together to take action.
Pivoting from the enormous success of NFPA and its critical role in providing resources that protect people and property from hazards, Pauley addressed a direct threat to NFPA. “NFPA is challenged by a vocal minority who have the erroneous view that standards, once incorporated by reference, should lose their copyright protection. They argue that if a governmental body decides to incorporate a standard into law or regulation to help with public safety, then the standard immediately is open for anyone to take, copy and distribute – even start a commercial business by offering them to the public – without any compensation to NFPA. This is a very misguided view,” he said. “The continued assault by special interests on copyright protection threatens the ability of NFPA and organizations like us to fund this important work… Without copyright protection, we would not be able to support the codes and standards development process, nor would be able to continue providing the research, public education programs, wildfire mitigation efforts, and other resources that are inherent to our mission and available for free.”
Pauley emphasized that NFPA is continuing to fight this battle on all fronts to unequivocally confirm what is known: That standards are protected by copyright, even when they are incorporated by reference, allowing for a system that benefits government, businesses, and the public.
He concluded by looking forward. “What began 125 years ago to solve the fire problem in a young, industrialized nation is now a global force advancing safety worldwide. We are leading with innovative approaches to new and lingering threats. Through our work together, more people and property are saved in more places.”