The tragic fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral has the world grieving for one of humanity’s great cultural, historic and religious icons. While recent reports suggest the massive fire is not as destructive as first thought, news about promises of philanthropy from wealthy French benefactors to repair the cathedral are lifting spirits.

As such, the time is right to discuss how fire prevention at meeting and convention facilities should always be a top-of-mind concern for meeting planners.

Meetings Today reached out to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for advice on how meeting and convention organizers should arm themselves with a pre-event checklist to make sure fire safety and adherence to fire codes is paramount.

Fire Safety Advice From the National Fire Protection Association

Robert Solomon is an engineering director at NFPA, where he oversees many of the codes used for new, existing and historic buildings.

Robert Solomon, NFPA Engineering Director“In the code world, we actually apply many similar principles to a place of worship like Notre Dame as we do for a large convention center,” Solomon said. “For example, any time you have a building where a very large number of people gather it is critically important that exits—the number, spacing and width—are adequate to allow rapid evacuation in the event of a fire or other emergency. 

“Crowd behaviors will vary depending on the type of event and the type of building, and the NFPA Life Safety Code® takes such differences into account,” Soloman continued.

Solomon noted that other protective measures, such as sprinklers, fire alarm systems and even trained crowd managers and security staff are also critical issues to be aware of and implement.

Solomon’s colleague, Holly Roderick, is the senior manager for conferences and meetings operations for NFPA. Her group oversees the scheduling of venues for NFPA committee meetings, training programs and NFPA’s Annual Conference & Expo

Holly Roderick, Senior Manager for Conferences and Meetings Operations, NFPAPotential NFPA venue sites are required to complete a checklist of safety features when being considered as a host location for events.

“Before coming to NFPA I never gave too much thought to fire safety,” Roderick said. “Now I realize that as planners we should be just as focused on fire safety for our attendees as we are on room set-ups and food and beverage arrangements. The Hotel Fire Safety Checklist answers all our questions upfront and gives us a level of assurance that the property we are working with is safe.”

Get Your Hotel Fire Safety Checklist

The NFPA’s checklist covers the following items:

  • Sprinklers
  • Fire/smoke alarms
  • Exits
  • Signage
  • Fire safety inspections

Download the NFPA’s Hotel Fire Safety Checklist now [Page 1] [Page 2].

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