Fire Safety Award Winners Honored at Annual CFSI Event

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Some who’ve gone the extra mile to promote fire safety were lauded for their dedicated efforts Thursday night during the annual Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) dinner.

And for the first time, three fire departments that provide EMS care were honored for exceptional performance.

Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award

Former San Clemente Fire Chief Ronny Coleman found it difficult to find the right words after receiving the Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award.

Coleman said since learning of the honor, he’s been reflecting on his life and achievements as well as those who helped him along the way. “I’ve also thought about my enemies,” he said with a laugh.

“There are so many people who influenced me along the way who are not here to share this,” he said. “I owe a lot of people a great deal of debt.”

Coleman was responsible for getting the nation’s first ordinance requiring sprinklers in new homes.

He went on to become California State Fire Marshal, and has been involved on a myriad of code issues on both a national and international level. He has authored a number of texts, and continues to promote the fire service in a number of ways.

Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award

A woman known for her dedication to fire safety education was presented with the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award.

Peg Carson, , a public education specialist in fire and life safety with Carson Associates, Inc., has been involved with many programs involving fire safety.

“Ms. Carson has dedicated the bulk of her career in a leadership role developing, field testing, and implementing many of the leading national school-based fire safety education curricula, including the National Fire Protection Association’s Learn Not to Burn® and Risk Watch® programs,” said Meri-K Appy, president of Safe Kids USA.

“If you were to look behind the curtain of almost any significant national fire safety education program in the last 25 years, you would see Peg in a quiet, but unmistakable, leadership role,” Appy said. “In the words of one of her many fans in the field, she is the consummate teacher of teachers.”

Carson told the crowd she enjoys participating in the life-saving programs, and will continue her mission.

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award

The Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award was bestowed on the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, established in 1996, teaches people about the importance of sprinklers in homes.

Members educate people about fire sprinkler systems, how they work, why they provide affordable protection as well as answer common myths and misconceptions about their operation, according their website,

CFSI officials explained the award: "Selecting one organization for top honors does not in any way minimize the importance and contributions of the other programs. In fact, every fire department and organization throughout the country that is making conscious efforts to actively promote and address firefighter health and safety are deserving of recognition."

Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Awards

It was a unique night for EMS providers from three fire departments when they took the stage to accept awards for serving their communities. They were the first prehospital care providers to be recognized at the annual national event.

The MedicAlert Foundation partnered with CFSI to sponsor the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS awards to a volunteer, a combination and a career department.

The recipients of the EMS awards included the Odessa, Del. Vol. Fire Co. for volunteer; the Friendswood, Tex. Vol. Fire Dept. for combination, and the Northwest Fire/Rescue District in Tucson for career.

“The Odessa Fire Company went from no ambulance service less than 15 years ago to having ambulances built with state-of-the-art safety equipment. Improvements are constantly being made both in and outside the vehicles that provide greater protection for the patient and crew,” said Mary Dean, chair of the MedicAlert Foundation.

She added that the department has taken safety a step further by placing equipment in the patient compartment that signal turns and braking.

“Odessa is leading the way in setting an example of achieving excellence in safety for both the patients and providers,” she said.

The Friendsville Vol. Fire Department in Texas was lauded for its initiatives as “a leader in providing high quality prehospital patient care and community wide emergency response.”

The department, that is supplemented by a paid crew during the week, was recognized for innovations in treatment, leadership, and education. In addition to patient care, the responders also promote emergency planning as well as conduct CPR training for citizens.

The career department selected for recognition handled the shooting at a Tucson shopping center that left several dead and injured, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Crews had participated in a mass casualty exercise in December – just one month before the call came in that would test what they learned.

“While many precious lives were lost that day the training and response of Northwest Fire/Rescue District saved many lives at this tragic event,” Dean said. “…You made the fire/EMS service across the nation very proud that day.”

Earlier this year, CFSI officials announced that Congressman Peter King, R-NY, was named CFSI Legislator of the Year. He currently serves as Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.