Author(s): Ken Willette. Published on May 2, 2016.

The Shock of the New

Education offerings illustrate why this isn’t exactly your dad’s fire service conference


NFPA Conference Session
NFPA Conference & Expo, Las Vegas, June 13-16, 2016

Marijuana Concentrate and Grow Operation Hazards--First Responder Safety
Monday, June 13, 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM

Siegfried Klein, Aurora Fire Department; Jeff Johnson, Aurora Fire Department

General Session
Monday, June 13, 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM

Jim Pauley, NFPA; Ernest J. Grant, NFPA Board of Directors

The Fire Investigator Becomes an Expert Witness: A Review of NFPA 921, Guide for Fire Investigation, and NFPA 1033, Qualifications for the Fire Investigator
Tuesday, June 14, 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Rick Hammond, Johnson and Bell; Randy Watson, SEA Limited; David Evinger, Grotefeld and Hoffman; Terry-Dawn Hewitt, McKenna-Hewitt; Stuart Sklar, Fabian and Sklar; Roger Krupp, Clarendon Hills Fire Departments

Feature Presentation - Smart Data for Smarter Fire Protection
Wednesday, June 15, 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Bart van Leeuwen, Netage

IF YOU'RE A FIREFIGHTER or fire officer attending this year’s NFPA Conference + Expo in Las Vegas, hold onto your helmet—many of the fire service offerings this year focus on the challenges posed by new technology and processes that the fire service must understand and deal with, from robots and drones, to marijuana grow operations, to the ascendancy of Big Data. In short, it’s not exactly your dad’s fire service conference.

On Monday, June 13, a morning education session will focus on the hazards of marijuana concentrate and grow operations, and safety for first responders. Putting aside the jokes about wanting to be on the first-due engine to a fire at a grow facility, this is a serious challenge for fire marshals, fire prevention officials, and firefighters. The legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use has created a new industry where large commercial structures are converted into very secure, temperature-controlled warehouses, utilizing heat to produce flammable products and by-products. These facilities and their risks are not addressed by NFPA 1001, Firefighter Professional Qualifications, so this timely session is an ideal opportunity to learn about these facilities before they open in your communities—plan to attend.

On Monday afternoon, our general session features a presentation that will illustrate how technology can provide the fire service with a second set of eyes: unmanned aerial systems that hover above you, or maybe below you, transmitting critical scene information. Think about having a 360-degree view of the fireground available at any time during the incident, and how that would improve the incident commander’s situational awareness. What was thought to be out of reach for most fire departments five years ago has rapidly become more affordable and available.

On Tuesday afternoon, an extended session will do a deep dive into NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations, and NFPA 1033, Professional Qualifications for the Fire Investigator. The 2017 edition of NFPA 921 will be published later this year, and an overview will be provided of the proposed changes. The content of NFPA 1033 will also be reviewed. While NFPA 921 covers how the investigation should be conducted, NFPA 1033 addresses the personal qualifications of the individual conducting the investigation; together they provide the foundation of competency needed by today’s fire investigator. Hear how achieving compliance with these documents can assist you in being recognized as an expert witness.

Wrapping up my list of must-attends, on Wednesday a featured session will examine the use of smart data to improve fire protection and firefighter safety. Data is currently being talked about across the fire service, and there are many ideas on how to acquire, analyze, and use it. This session will help focus the discussion and illustrate a path forward for the fire service to consider as it strives to understand data’s vast potential.

There are more than two dozen educational sessions at this year’s Conference + Expo. These sessions will address the needs of today’s fire service, sessions that will enhance your knowledge of emerging technologies, fire investigation, and the power of data. See you there.

KEN WILLETTE is division manager for Public Fire Protection at NFPA. Top Photograph: Getty