2011 NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Conference & Expo June 12–15, Boston Convention&Exhibition Center, Boston ATTENDED BY FIRE-PROTECTION, LIFE-SAFETY,AND ELECTRICAL-INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
It’s probably safe to say that most attendee groups don’t pay a whole lot of attention when it comes to emergency-evac- uation announcements, fire-safety plans, and other disaster- preparedness efforts at their conventions and trade shows.
The organization also publishes NFPA 1600, which is the standard on disaster- and emergency-management and busi- ness-continuity programs. (You can download a PDF of this document at http://bit.ly/NFPA1600; it’s also available as a mobile application through the iTunes App Store.) When NFPA first begins working with a convention center
or a hotel for its Conference&Expo, it makes sure that the property is fully covered by fire sprinklers, and also requires facility management to complete a fire-safety checklist, which must be signed off on by the venue’s safety officer. If the build- ing doesn’t have fire sprinklers or can’t complete the checklist, NFPA walks away. “I think [the checklist items] are pretty standard for what you would see,” Bailey said. “It’s just prob- ably a lot of meeting planners don’t take that step to make sure that everything is checked off.” During the registration process, NFPA collects emergency
contact information for all its attendees—and then stores this information not only on site, but also back at NFPA HQ. That way, Bailey said, “If there were a flood or some other type of disaster where we couldn’t use our computers or our normal communication mechanisms, then we could have our headquarters office initiate that communication for us, to get in touch with everyone.” Prior to the meeting, NFPA also works with safety officers
at the venue to gather all the emergency-evacuation informa- tion, from exit routes to what tones or announcements attendees would hear over the PA system in the event of an emergency. This information is disseminated to attendees not only in their printed meeting programs but also as part of NFPA’s mobile event app. After all, it’s not uncommon for someone to leave their conference guide in their hotel room, but whoever is without their phone?
One group about which that statement isn’t true is the NFPA. Working with a consultant, NFPA developed its own emer-
gency-response plan many years ago. “We do apply those same ideas and methodologies for the association to our large conference that we do every year,” said Linda Bailey, CMP, NFPA’s division manager of conferences and meetings.
PRACTICINGWHAT THEY PREACH: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) takes emergency-preparedness seriously —so much so that, if a venue under consideration for its annual Conference & Expo can’t complete its fire-safety checklist, the NFPA takes a pass.