Fire Marshal Summits: Why You Need to Be There!

Key Takeaways from Florida and Texas Fire Marshal Conferences in 2023

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Posted on November 21, 2023 

The Safer Buildings Coalition represented the In-Building Public Safety Wireless Community of Practice at two key Fire Marshal and Inspector conferences in the past few weeks: The Texas Fire Marshals Association Annual Conference in San Marcos, TX October 23-27, and the 75th Annual Florida Fire Prevention Conference held by the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association in Gainesville, November 6-8. 

This article contains key takeaways from these events.

Fantastic Opportunity

State and National Fire Marshal Association events represent a fantastic opportunity to engage the local jurisdiction staff who adopt, enforce, inspect, and approve ERCES codes, rules, and systems. The level of understanding ranges from newcomers to experts, with many shades of gray in between.

John at table

It provides an opportunity to clear up misconceptions, allow the AHJs to put a face to a name, and for them to get acquainted with better ideas and new players in the sector.

Many SBC members exhibited at both (but not as many as could have). This represents a very good value. For example, a tabletop at Florida FFMIA goes for $900.00. The cost covers the exhibit hall hours and the exhibitor reception, and all activities for two individuals. At the Texas Fire Marshal Conference, a tabletop costs $650, and includes two representatives. Both events include receptions in the vendor hall, so engagement with attendees is high.

The FFMIA event also includes a raffle, where attendees must visit every vendor table and get a signature in order to qualify for the raffle. While it’s true some attendees just drop by for a quick signature, most have the courtesy to ask about why you’re there and what you do. Some of the best engagement (and opportunities) come from these discussions.

ERCES Handbook

Getting the Handbook into the hands of AHJs and Radio System Staff

SBC, along with several of our members, also took the opportunity to distribute or raffle off Complete ERCES Handbooks. This is a great way to spread the enforcement message, educate jurisdiction staff, and build a relationship based on gratitude and value with book recipients.

For our members who sponsor at these events, SBC makes these books available in bulk at a deep discount. We print labels to go on the book, which establishes an ongoing relationship with the recipient.

Between SBC Sponsors and SBC, a total of 88 free copies of the book have been distributed to fire marshals, with a retail value of $14,872!

The books are greatly appreciated by the recipients, and they frequently order more for colleagues.

Interested in sponsoring books to promote your business and expand the ERCES mission? Read this article: Sponsor a Handbook.


KEY TAKEAWAYS: TFMA and FFMIA Fire Marshal Conferences

Some themes definitely emerged at these events:


Texas Fire Marshal Event Stats:
  • 350 Attendees, mostly AHJs 
  • 43 Vendor tables 
  • 6 vendors relevant to ERCES, 5 of whom are SBC members 
  • 15 educations sessions 
  • 1 ERCES session 
  • 1 Networking social event hosted by SBC Member

Florida Fire Marshal Event Stats: 
  • 300 total attendees, 200 AHJs 
  • 41 educational sessions 
  • 4 ERCES sessions (one by Chief Perdue), including a luncheon talk by an SBC member 
  • 32 Vendor tables, 9 SBC members

  • Awareness of ERCES in these two markets is high and growing. 
  • Best practices and documented requirements are expanding, but a lot of work is still needed in these areas.
  • Lack of clear processes and procedures continues to be a problem. 
  • Confusion about pathway survivability is still a major problem.
  • With a few notable exceptions, coordination with Frequency License Holders and awareness of FCC rules is still poor. We have a ton of work to do here. Alan presenting
  • Industry Competency continues to be a problem. We heard multiple horror stories, especially in Florida. “Chuck in a truck” / trunk slammers continue to do bad work, follow bad practices, and to give jurisdictions major headaches. Rogue BDA installs are causing noise and interference and wasting time, money, and resources. We have got to get this fixed or risk severe consequences. 
  • There is still quite a bit of confusion and misinformation about testing and the definition of signal quality. Some jurisdictions have moved downlink signal requirements to -105 dBm, and headed lower. In some cases where the noise floor is already at -105 dBm. 
  • AHJs LOVE attending sessions, especially when we have Chief Perdue in front of the class. 
  • More and more are asking about the NICET IB-PSC Certification Program. There is a drive to get the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to formalize licensing requirements for ERCES based on NICET. We will be pursuing this with both the State Fire Marshal Office and DBPR.
  • More and more school district AHJs are asking about ERCES in both Florida and Texas. More and more k-12 projects are spinning up. 
  • Universities in both states indicated deploying ERCES systems. 
  • ERCES companies exhibiting at both events had great engagement – participation is recommended!

2024 Industry Calendar is ramping up

Interested to see what industry events you can participate in for 2024? Hop on over the SBC Industry Events Calendar at this link: Industry Events Calendar.

Currently known Fire Marshal Events: 2024

Industry Events