HEROES Experience

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The NFPA HEROES Experience is a planned $100 million firefighter-themed visitor attraction which will anchor a planned 200-acre development at the intersection of U.S. Highway 31 and Shelby County Highway 52, near I-65 Exit 242 (the "Tank Farm Exit") in Pelham. It is anticipated to open in 2021

The attraction is under development by the National Center for Fire and Life Safety (NCFLS), with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as naming sponsor. The NCFLS had formally announced an Alabama Firefighters Museum & Education Center (AFFMEC) in Calera. That project originated when former Birmingham Fire and Rescue firefighter J. D. King and his wife Bobbie of Alabaster donated their collection of equipment and artifacts to Shelby County for a future museum.

The Shelby County Commission pledged $1 million from a fund generated by lodging taxes to get the project underway. Other partners in the original project were the City of Calera, the Calera Industrial Development Board ($35,000), the Calera Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama Fire College. Method-1 Interiors developed exhibition designs. Lindsay Schluntz, formerly of the Nebraska Firefighters Museum, was announced as director of the new museum in 2013.

In 2015 the foundation secured $90,000 of Shelby County's pledge to hire VernerJohnson Inc. architects of Boston, Massachusetts to develop a "comprehensive museum plan" which would include feasibility studies and a conceptual design. At that time, former U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus was tapped to lead nationwide fundraising efforts toward a planned 2018 opening. In December of that year, the architects presented a concept for a "Heroes Activity Center".

In April 2018 the "NFPA HEROES Experience" was announced. The facility is expected to offer high-tech educational exhibits in a 100,000 square foot facility. VernerJohnson is working with BRC Imagination Art and the Jim Henson Company on the design of the exhibits and the building. According to the NCFLS, the exhibits will teach about the history of firefighting and emergency medical services; communicate the mental, physical and intellectual requirements for effective emergency services; and promote understanding of how to make the world a safer place.

The site for the project will be donated by the City of Pelham, along with other unspecified incentives. In December the city contracted with Skipper Consulting to perform traffic studies to determine the best ways for the public to access the site.


  • Reed, Martin J. (July 8, 2013) "Alabama Firefighters Museum in Calera gets first executive director." The Birmingham News
  • Reed, Martin J. (May 27, 2015) "Alabama Firefighters Museum hiring architect to create facility's comprehensive plan" The Birmingham News
  • Pease, Jessa (August 13, 2015) "Alabama Firefighters Museum begins comprehensive planning." Shelby County Reporter
  • "VernerJohnson presents Final Master Plan for the Heroes Activity Center" (December 8, 2015) press release - accessed April 18, 2018
  • Harris, Brianna (April 18, 2018) "Major development announced for Exit 242 in Pelham". Shelby County Reporter
  • West, Ty (April 18, 2018) "Pelham selected for $100M major national attraction." Birmingham Business Journal
  • "Bham engineering firm to conduct traffic study for new $100M Shelby County attraction." (December 26, 2018) Birmingham Business Journal