Author(s): James Pauley. Published on May 1, 2020.

Same Time Next Year


These are indeed unprecedented times as the world battles COVID-19 on many fronts, and the lingering impact of the pandemic will likely continue for some time. Against the backdrop of a global health emergency and a widespread economic shutdown, NFPA has had to be creative and resourceful to meet the needs of stakeholders and maintain its varied business operations, all while doing everything in its power to keep its employees safe.

A vital part of those operations is our annual conference, and since the start of the pandemic it has been our singular intent to hold the 2020 NFPA Conference & Expo® (C&E) in Orlando in June—but only if it could be done safely for all involved. My team and I have spent weeks monitoring countless data and information sources on COVID-19. We have also been listening to our stakeholders, some of whom asked us to not hold the event and others who encouraged us to move forward. After a great deal of thought, and based on the best information available to us, we have determined that we cannot hold our event in Florida. For the wellbeing of everyone involved, we are cancelling the 2020 NFPA Conference & Expo.

To say I am disappointed at having to share this news is an understatement, and I’m sure many of you are disappointed as well. This is not the decision I wanted to make. NFPA annual meetings represent important milestones in the organization’s long history, and have been held through wars and periods of economic distress; they were held even during the height of the Spanish influenza pandemic a century ago. We live in a different era, however, and we have learned a great deal since then. As a safety organization, we could not hold an event where the welfare of attendees could be compromised.

C&E is as important to us as it is to all of you, and we know that each of you prepares in your own way to be present and to fully participate in this premier event. As it has been for more than 100 years, our annual meeting is a catalyst for advancing fire, life, and electrical safety across the globe. The conference is where new and updated codes and standards move forward; results from the latest research are revealed; products and services that support prevention and protection are showcased; and where attendees have one of their best opportunities to network with peers from around the world who share the same commitment to reducing loss. C&E also offers a unique annual opportunity for you as stakeholders to hear firsthand from me and my team about how NFPA supports the work you do, and how we can work together to further the proliferation and understanding of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosytem™.

Though we will not meet in person this year, we will employ many different methods to share this information with you and solicit your feedback. Additionally, some of the activities that occur at the conference will be facilitated remotely, including the Association’s Annual Meeting, where the election of directors to our board will take place, and the NFPA Technical Meeting, where members vote on final changes to the 2021 editions of our codes and standards. We will announce more details on those activities soon.

While I cannot do anything to change the outcome for this year, I can plant a very big seed for next year: the 2021 NFPA Conference & Expo will be held the week of June 21 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. The event will help mark the 125th anniversary of NFPA and will provide a huge opportunity to reconnect face to face, celebrate the strides we have made over the years, and press on with our commitment to meet the challenges of our times head on. We will count on all of you to be part of this significant event.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected with us.

For more information on the cancellation of the 2020 NFPA Conference & Expo®, and for information on next year's event in Las Vegas, visit conference.