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The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced that Gary Keith, former president of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), and longtime employee of NFPA and FM Global, as the winner of the 2021 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal. Keith has been awarded this year’s medal for his dedication and career-long commitment to fire safety.
The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal was established in honor of Jim Shannon, who served as NFPA president for 12 years beginning in 2002 and was known for his tireless advocacy. Under Shannon’s leadership, NFPA significantly advanced its mission of promoting fire safety and protecting both the general public and members of the fire service alike by proactively working towards key changes that reduce fire loss. He was also a vocal advocate for home fire sprinklers and intensified NFPA’s efforts in support of requirements for this technology.
During his impactful career, Keith led NFPA field efforts on the Fire-Safe Cigarette Coalition that resulted in all 50 states passing legislation to make cigarettes less likely to ignite; spurred on the use of updated codes and standards on numerous building and life safety issues; and acted as the guiding force behind many initiatives to increase the use of home fire sprinklers.
Keith began his work at NFPA in 1995. Less than a year later, he worked in coordination with the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) and the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) to form the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC), which worked to create an education strategy and to champion the installation of sprinklers in one- and two-family homes. Keith was appointed to lead the Coalition after its creation. Keith’s leadership at NFPA and within the fire service was instrumental in all national model codes requiring fire sprinklers in new construction.
Keith recently retired from FM Global, but he has worked to ensure that HFSC has ongoing support so that the coalition can continue to pursue its important advocacy work. In addition, research conducted with FM Global to evaluate environmental benefits of sprinklers and show that the technology is environmentally friendly is a huge benefit to communities across the country.