Top fire safety advocates honoured at NFPA Awards Gala 2023

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In a landmark celebration of fire safety advocates, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) held its annual Stars at Night awards gala on June 18th, 2023, in Las Vegas. The event, forming part of the annual NFPA Conference and Expo, showcased exceptional contributions to fire safety and protection, with honours including the Fire Prevention and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award, the James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal, the Standards Medal, the Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal, the Harry C. Bigglestone Award, and the Distinguished Service Award.

Virginia Beach’s Jessica Xenakis crowned Fire Safety Educator of the Year

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) honoured Jessica Xenakis, Fire and Life Safety Education Coordinator for the Virginia Beach Fire Department, with the Fire Prevention and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award for 2023.

As a prominent figure in her field, Xenakis received recognition for her innovative “Safety Squad” programme and the successful launch of a comprehensive virtual learning resource, www.vbfdlifesafety.com. Her exceptional efforts in implementing fire safety education within the community earned her this notable honour, which is awarded annually to a dedicated educator.

Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki secures James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal 2023

Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki was also recognised at the gala for his unwavering commitment to fire safety and loss reduction. His substantial contributions in this area earned him the prestigious James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal for 2023. Siarnicki’s advocacy initiatives, including the establishment of the Everyone Goes Home Programme and his impactful leadership at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, have made a remarkable impact on fire safety.

Daniel O’Connor bestowed with NFPA’s highest honour

Daniel O’Connor, a technical fellow at Jensen Hughes, was awarded the coveted Standards Medal at the event. This distinction, the highest given by the NFPA Standards Council, honours outstanding contributions to fire safety and NFPA codes and standards. O’Connor’s significant contributions and his extensive 43-year career as a consulting fire protection engineer highlight the reasons for this honour.

Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal and Harry C. Bigglestone Award winners announced

In addition to the individual accolades, a group of fire and life safety experts were honoured with the Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal. The medal recognises projects that best reflect the fire safety mission, commitment to addressing technical challenges, and successful collaboration. The 2023 medal was awarded for the project titled “Firefighting Foams: A Fire Service Roadmap.” This significant project, funded by a DHS/FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant, aimed to guide the fire service community during its transition to fluorine-free firefighting foam.

The winners of the Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal were Jerry Back, a fire protection engineer from Jensen Hughes, Casey Grant, the executive director of DSRAE, LLC, Edward Hawthorne, a global emergency manager and consultant, and Noah Lieb, a subject matter expert at Jensen Hughes. Each of these individuals demonstrated unwavering dedication to research, development, and innovation, contributing significantly to fire safety standards and practices.

Meanwhile, the Harry C. Bigglestone Award was presented for a paper titled “Experimental Study of the Fire Dynamics in a Semi-enclosure Formed by Photovoltaic (PV) Installations on Flat Roof Constructions.” This award annually recognises the paper in Fire Technology that best encapsulates excellence in communicating fire protection concepts. The authors of the paper, Jens Kristensen, Benjamin Jacobs, and Grunde Jomaas, have made critical contributions to fire safety research, particularly regarding the transition to renewable energy.

Their work provides valuable insights into the fire dynamics of photovoltaic systems on flat roof constructions, contributing to the ongoing discussion of fire-safe, sustainable environmental practices. These recognitions underscore the importance of research and technological development in enhancing fire safety standards.

Dr. James Milke Receives 2023 Distinguished Service Award

Lastly, the NFPA presented Dr. James Milke with the 2023 Distinguished Service Award. As a Professor and Chair of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland, Milke’s significant contributions in promoting fire safety and advancing NFPA’s mission were lauded. This prestigious honour is a testament to Dr. Milke‚Äôs lifelong dedication to fire safety.

All winners were announced during the Stars at Night awards gala, underscoring the NFPA’s mission of recognising those individuals and teams that demonstrate exceptional commitment to fire safety and prevention.

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