GFCI wins NFPA’s Philip J. DiNenno Prize for 2022


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The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced Electrical Shock Hazard Protection by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protection as the winner of the 2022 Phillip J. DiNenno Prize, which recognizes pioneering innovations that have significantly impacted building, fire, and electrical safety. The prestigious award is named for the late Philip J. DiNenno, the greatly respected former CEO of Hughes Associates, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to fire safety.

The 2022 DiNenno Prize selection reflects a departure from the traditional recognition of one or more individuals who have played a pivotal role in the creation of a fire and life safety technology. Instead, it honors the ground-breaking technology itself, as its innovators are no longer living.

The (GFCI) concept has evolved since its inception in the 1940s into a series of sophisticated protection devices that have increased protection of people from electric shock. It has also allowed for greater degrees of safe electrical power usage among numerous applications in all types of environments. In addition, widespread installation of GFCI protection throughout the built environment has directly led to significant, quantifiable increases in society’s current levels of electrical safety. Furthermore, GFCI technologies will continue to prevent tragedies attributable to electrocutions even more so in the future.

“GFCI technology in itself is very important in electrical safety, saving hundreds of lives per year,” said Craig Beyler, DiNenno Selection and Prize Committee Chair. “This year’s recommendation remains true to the core tenets of the DiNenno Prize and continues to honor live and deceased innovators equally.”

The DiNenno Prize typically features a $50,000 award to its recipients. In absence of living recipients, the Phoenix Burn Society for Burn Survivors and the Electrical Fire Safety International (ESFI) have been selected as the beneficiaries of the prize and will each receive a cash donation to support their work in reducing loss from electrical hazards.

The award will be officially presented at the NFPA “Stars at Night” award ceremony in coordination with the NFPA Conference & Expo (C&E) in Boston this June. Jack Wells and Henry Zylstra, who each played a critical role in the advancement of GFCI technology, will serve as legacy presenters of the DiNenno Prize.

In addition, there will be a special panel presentation on Ground Fault Circuit (GFCI) Protection at C&E on Monday morning at 8:00 am. Wells, Zylstra, Alan Manche and Steve Rood will serve as presenters, reviewing the role GFCI has played in electrical safety; Wells and Zylstra will share stories about their involvement in the development and commercialization of GFCI technology.

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