Author(s): Fred Durso. Published on May 1, 2010.

The new Cowboys Stadium, the biggest and most technologically advanced field in the NFL, is the subject of an education session presentation on Wednesday, June 9.  (Photo: AP/Wide World)

Random Sampling 
An intriguing array of education sessions awaits attendees at this year’s NFPA Conference and Expo. Here are just a few of the highlights.

NFPA Journal®, May/June 2010 

By Fred Durso, Jr. 

The tagline “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” isn’t applicable at this year’s NFPA Conference and Expo — participants are encouraged to apply the lessons learned at the event’s education sessions to their areas of expertise back home.    

In true Vegas fashion, though, you’ll be faced with an array of temptations — namely, to take in ed sessions that stray far beyond the scope of your professional disciplines. You can find out why one presenter considers the fire service “its own worst enemy,” or you can catch up on the latest research on adolescent girls who play with fire. If you’re in a sporting frame of mind, you can learn about the fire and safety protocols that went into constructing the enormous new Cowboys Stadium. Additional presentations will center around loss control and prevention, as well as the environment — the two new conference tracks added this year due to member demand. No matter the specialty, there’s a session for it.



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The following is a subjective rundown of some of the education session highlights taking place at the conference in June.

Firefighter Exposure to Smoke
Jacob Borgerson and Thomas Fabian, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.; James Dalton, Chicago Fire Department; James Lockey, University of Cincinnati Academic Medical Center
Wednesday, June 9, 8–9 a.m.

The Fire Service — Its Own Worst Enemy
Marion Long, U.S. Fire Administration/National Fire Data Center
Wednesday, June 9, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

Angry over fire station closures or service cutbacks in your community? Proper data collection may help alleviate the problem. “If the fire service isn’t documenting information, they’re hurting themselves in a data-driven age,” says Marion Long, fire program specialist with the U.S. Fire Administration. “We’re at the point where you just can’t say ‘we’re a value to the community’ anymore. What makes it stand out is not just saying it, but being able to document and show it.”

Learn how to make the National Fire Incident Reporting System work for you, and decipher the data behind smoke inhalation during a session addressing this firefighter hazard.

Industrial Interface: Responding to Large Manufacturing with Small Fire Departments
James Jaracz, Hobart, Indiana Fire Department; Don Turno, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
Monday, June 7, 11 a.m.–noon

Like a growing number of small towns across America, Hobart, Indiana is home to big industry. And that can produce some big concerns when it comes to fire safety. Just ask James Jaracz, who understands how communication between his fire department and private business affects fire safety for both business and the community. “In my area, we’re seeing larger manufacturing [facilities] going into rural areas,” says the Hobart fire department’s director of fire prevention. Learn how to work with new businesses to provide an effective fire response. 

Health Care Codes and Standards Review
Michael Daniel, Daniel Consulting Ltd.
Monday, June 7, 8–11 a.m.

The National Long-Term Care Life Safety Task Force: Working Together to Enhance the Quality of Life of Nursing Home Residents Through Recommended NFPA 101 Revisions
Margaret Calkins, I.D.E.A.S., Inc.; James Gregory, AHCA; Thomas Jaeger, Jaeger & Associates; Cathy Lieblich, Pioneer Network; Robert Mayer, Hulda B. and Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation
Monday, June 7, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

Health Care Hot Topics and AHJ Interpretations
Thomas Gardner, The Protection Engineering Group, Inc.; James Merrill, CMS; George Mills, TJC
Tuesday, June 8, 11 a.m.–noon

How Wildfires Forced the Evacuation of a Hospital: Lessons Learned
Melissa Barnard, Feather River Hospital
Tuesday, June 8, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Managing Hospital Electrical System Shutdowns
David Stymiest, Smith Seckman Reid, Inc.
Wednesday, June 9, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

As the U.S. health care debate has shown, effectively caring for the sick and elderly has its challenges. Fortunately, there’s help. Get a primer on the codes and standards currently up for adoption and related “hot topics” affecting this industry. Another session joins members of the National Long-Term Care Life Safety Task Force, who will discuss how several proposed revisions to NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, will enhance the quality of life of nursing home residents without sacrificing fire safety. Also, learn how a fast-moving wildfire led to the successful evacuation of Feather River Hospital in Paradise, California. 

Adolescent Females and Fire Setting: Is She Cinderella or the Wicked Witch?
Paul Schwartzman, Fairport Counseling Services; Robert Stadolnik, FirePsych, Inc.
Tuesday, June 8, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

“What we found through our research was an amazing lack of attention paid to girls who set fires, which is a growing problem,” says Robert Stadolnik, president of FirePsych, Inc., a private psychology practice specializing in fire setting and arson. “All of the knowledge that we have around intervening with kids involved with fire setting is based on research of boys.” Addressing this issue, the presenters will highlight their data findings and a new research project with The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. A surprising find is that the excessive fascination and curiosity adolescent males have for fire setting doesn’t seem to exist for females — leading Stadolnik to believe that gender-specific treatments may be needed.    

Working with the Media in Crisis Situations
Susan Tellem, Tellem Worldwide, Inc.
Wednesday, June 9, 8–9 a.m.

It’s no wonder Susan Tellem has mastered the art of handling the media circus — for nearly two years, she was spokesperson for the district attorney on the Michael Jackson molestation case. “It’s really unfortunate that [crisis management] is ignored by companies and nonprofits,” says the founder of Tellem Worldwide, a public relations, social media, and marketing communications agency. “Everyone has the attitude that it won’t happen to them.” Sit in on a panel providing ways to successfully use the media to your advantage during an emergency.

Dust Explosions 101
John Cholin, J.M. Cholin Consultants, Inc.
Monday, June 7, 8–9 a.m.

The Process Hazard Analysis: Your Roadmap to Managing Your Dust Explosion Hazards
John Cholin, J.M.Cholin Consultants, Inc.
Monday, June 7, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

Prevent a Catastrophe: Find Combustible Dust Before It Explodes
William Hamilton, U.S. Department of Labor–OSHA
Monday, June 7, 11 a.m.–noon

Safe Thickness for Combustible Dust Layers
Guy Colonna, NFPA; Erdem Ural, Loss Prevention Science and Technologies, Inc.
Tuesday, June 8, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Here’s your chance to learn everything you ever wanted to know about combustible dust — and more. “Combustible dust hazard safety requires an understanding of what combustible dusts are, where they come from, and what to do to prevent the conditions necessary for fires and explosions,” says Guy Colonna, NFPA division manager for Industrial and Chemical Engineering.

Sessions include the latest research aimed at better defining dust properties and thickness layer criteria, as well as proposed changes to NFPA codes and standards that may impact future safeguards.

Cowboys Stadium — A Public/Private Partnership
Russ Mower, Telgian Corp.; Robin Paulsgrove, Arlington, Texas Fire Department
Wednesday, June 9, 11 a.m.–noon

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, “America’s team,” the Dallas Cowboys, now plays at the NFL’s largest and most technologically advanced stadium. Learn how an interesting partnership led to the design, installation, and commissioning of complex fire protection systems at the 140-acre site that seats up to 100,000 rabid fans.

Results of the WPI-FPRF Mobilization Study: From 9-1-1 to Units en Route
Robert Upson, Town of New Hartford
Monday, June 7, 8–9 a.m.

Wind-Driven Fires in Structures 
Daniel Madrzykowski, NIST/BFRL
Tuesday, June 8, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) is sponsoring an array of sessions, including a review of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute study on call processing and turnout times from 59 fire departments. The data will allow participants to identify realistic time allowances for response planning purposes.

Also, gain insight into the temperature, heat flux, velocity, and gas concentrations generated by wind-driven fires from real-world experiments. For a list of FPRF-sponsored sessions, visit

Fire Fighting Best Practices for Electric Vehicles and Photovoltaic Panels
Casey Grant, Fire Protection Research Foundation
Monday, June 7, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

NFPA First Responder Safety Training for Advanced Electric Drive Vehicles
Andrew Klock, NFPA; Harry Abraham, NFPA
Monday, June 7, 11 a.m.–noon

Actor Ed Begley, Jr. has finally gotten his wish. Big-name car manufacturers have produced their versions of electric cars, which will hit the roads as early as this year. But if you’re an emergency responder, do you know what to do if you encounter an electric or hybrid vehicle involved in an accident? Get a crash course on research sponsored by the Fire Protection Research Foundation that can help you get practical information to first responders on emergencies involving electric-drive and electric-hybrid vehicles. Also, get an overview of the first responder safety training program for electric-drive vehicles currently under development by NFPA.

Fire Safety Planning for People with Developmental Disabilities 
Stacy Everson, SEEDS Educational Services, Inc.; Stacy Gerlich, Los Angeles Fire Department
Tuesday, June 8, 11 a.m.–noon

Discover the fire-safety challenges confronting the developmentally disabled and how to prepare, train, and plan staff for any emergency. Speakers will highlight the various modes of instruction and tools that people with cognitive disabilities prefer, and effective methods of providing direct and indirect assistance to this population. 

Training Future Fire Protection Engineers
Milosh Puchovsky, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Wednesday, June 9, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

The Digital Age has altered the conventional classroom; discussion boards and laptops have replaced chalkboards and paper notebooks. Nobody is more aware of this than Milosh Puchovsky, who teaches at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), one of the few U.S. institutions offering degrees in fire protection engineering. While there’s still a demand for such professionals, the economy, he says, has impacted the number of graduates. Puchovsky’s solution? Use online learning to reach a wider audience. He teaches most courses in a TV studio and has a camera crew accompany him on field trips, which are eventually placed online for students to see. "I’m trying to take advantage of the technology and the fact that many students are different," says Puchovsky, WPI’s director of corporate and professional education of the Fire Protection Engineering Department.

Fred Durso, Jr. is staff writer for NFPA Journal.