Author(s): James Pauley. Published on July 1, 2019.

Conference Reflection


I just returned from our 2019 Conference & Expo in San Antonio, and I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I learned. There were many, but at the top was this: the world will be a safer place because of what all of you do.

Nearly 8,000 of you attended the world’s largest fire and life safety event, and you were there because you’re dedicated to making a difference and saving lives. In fact, “dedicated” is a word that constantly comes to mind, no matter what field you’re in: public safety, engineering, electrical—the list goes on. The continuing education sessions were well attended and interactive. The expo floor buzzed with people with a drive to enhance their own knowledge. The excitement level was beyond anything I’ve seen in my years of attending the NFPA conference.

One of the themes that we threaded through the conference was “What we do here improves safety everywhere,” and that idea was visible in many different ways. This year’s conference attracted delegations and attendees from more than 40 countries. Dr. Tricia Wang, our keynote at the general session, reminded us of the importance of the human element alongside data as we create the tools and processes necessary for us to do our jobs. People influence people, and that is the key for us as we work toward achieving our vision of a safer world. It was fascinating not only to watch but also to be a part of it.

The NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem resonated across the conference. We talked about it extensively at the opening general session, and I lost count of the number of you who came to me and said, “We need this thinking in our [country/jurisdiction/city/take your pick], and I am going to take it home and apply it.” I have to admit that the impact of the ecosystem message is turning out to be even bigger than we at NFPA anticipated when we put it together. I said in my remarks at the general session that what the “America Burning” report did to advance a focus on fire safety for the US in the 1970s, the ecosystem will do for us today—and it will be able to do it on a global scale.

Put the dates on your calendar for next year’s conference—June 15-18, 2020, in Orlando. Don’t miss an opportunity to be part of the biggest networking event in fire and life safety. See you there!