Published on May 1, 2012.

Spotlight On Architects, Engineers, & Building Official Section

NFPA Journal®, May/June 2012

Section Activity Summary
Did you know that the Architects, Engineers, and Building Officials (AEBO) Section is the second-largest NFPA section with 4,579 members? Yet it has very little activity compared to many of the other NFPA sections, such as the Electrical Section, the International Fire Marshal’s Association, and the Health Care Section. During recent meetings of the Executive Board, we discussed how we can tap into the resources that the AEBO section members have to offer and how to use them to help the section offer more to our members.


James Peterkin, PE, is the current chair of the AEBO Executive Board. He is a vice-president and senior fire protection engineer in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, office of Heery International, a full-service architecture, interior design, engineering, construction management, and program management firm with 23 offices across the United States. He has been in the field of fire protection engineering for 27 years.

The Executive Board decided that the first step was to establish an Education Committee to help increase the section members’ educational and training opportunities. We sent an e-mail to the section membership asking for volunteers interested in serving on this committee. The board also asked section members about their interest in serving on the Nominating Committee, the By-laws Committee, and a new Membership Committee. Ideas for other section committees are also welcome.

The Executive Board is also looking into collaborating more with other sections. To help accomplish this, we are trying to open a dialogue about current issues that are common to the various sections and looking for opportunities for joint educational sessions.

As design professionals, we continue to face problems in the differing codes adopted by multiple jurisdictions, the numerous amendments many jurisdictions make to the model codes, and the different interpretations of the codes and standards from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Involving more members of the section in the section’s activities can give architects, engineers, and building officials an opportunity to collaborate on current issues and to encourage consensus on these issues.

The annual NFPA Conference & Expo is an excellent opportunity for AEBO Section members to network with other professionals, to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered, and to affect the code- and standard-development process. With limited budgets and other time commitments, however, it is often difficult for section members to attend the Conference & Expo. For this reason, we hope that an Education Committee can develop other opportunities for section members to network and increase their knowledge of NFPA’s codes and standards, be they Web-based training sessions or other mini-conferences similar to the Healthcare Symposium offered in the late fall.

The AEBO Section will sponsor more than 40 seminars at this year’s annual Conference & Expo. Among them will be a three-part panel discussion of the proposed changes to the 2013 edition of NFPA 70®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, which will take place on Monday, June 11, and a step-by-step workshop on fire protection and life safety system commissioning on Tuesday, June 12. The seminars will continue on Wednesday, June 13, and will include an update on the 2013 edition of NFPA 20, Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, as well as an overview of clean agent systems. I would encourage everyone to make the most of these opportunities and attend as many of these seminars as possible. As architects, engineers, and building officials, we all need sources of continuing education to maintain our registrations and certifications. NFPA’s Conference & Expo is a great opportunity to not only gain your necessary CEUs but to spend time with your colleagues and to see the latest innovative fire protection products.

If you can attend the conference in Las Vegas, please plan to attend the annual AEBO business meeting at the Luxor Hotel, on Monday, June 11 at 7 am, where we will vote on new Board Members, as well as changes to the section’s by-laws.

We encourage any member who would like to get involved to contact us.

If you are interested in serving on a committee of the AEBO Section, please contact Courtney O’Neill at