Author(s): James Pauley. Published on September 1, 2017.

If You Build It...


For 120 years, NFPA has maintained a focus on fire prevention and public education. In conjunction with the fire service and many other partners, we have made progress on those objectives, but we still have a long way to go. To cover that distance, we need to consider new and innovative approaches to changing consumer behavior, and we need to do it in unique ways that engage the public.

A little more than a year ago, members of the fire service, government, academia, and the business community in Alabama gathered to talk about establishing a fire museum. Their thinking became much bigger, and the idea for the National Center for Fire and Life Safety (NCFLS) was born.

The aim of the NCFLS is to reduce injury and loss of life associated with fire, as well as damage to property and other resources, by developing and deploying nontraditional, innovative fire prevention and life safety training and education.

Through partnerships with the world’s leading authorities in fire and life safety, the center wants to promote a collective vision of a safer world.

I am proud to say that NFPA has agreed to be the title sponsor for the NCFLS. The mission of the center and the mission of NFPA are directly aligned, and we see a huge opportunity to reach the public in a much different way that will result in a world that is better informed and ultimately safer through the positive actions of its citizens.

Don’t think of the center as a static classroom-type environment—the vision is to create a transformative experience using engaging stories, emotional experiences, practical hands-on activities, and active role-playing to immerse the visiting public in life safety education.

The center will be a nonprofit entity. Construction will be funded through a strong fundraising and partnering campaign. We hope to break ground in 2019. Once the center is open, ongoing operation will be funded primarily by visitor revenue. Much of the preliminary planning and economic analysis has been completed, and the next year will be used to gather additional partners who want to be a part of this revolution in fire and life safety. If you are interested in partnering with the center, contact Russell A. Jackson, CEO of the NCFLS, at

There is a lot of work to do to finalize plans and construct and open the center. We will keep you informed along the way.