James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal

The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal was established to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the fire loss problem through advocacy. The Medal Selection Committee considers several criteria, including the impact of the individual’s efforts toward NFPA’s mission, reducing fire loss, and the extent to which the efforts are collaborative beyond NFPA.

Criteria and application

Download a nomination form (PDF), and submit to NFPA via email. Deadline for receipt of nomination is February 15. If there is an appropriate selection, the award will be presented at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston in June.  

Nominations for individuals or groups will be judged on the following criteria:

  • the impact of the advocacy efforts on advancing NFPA’s mission
  • the cost-effectiveness of the advocacy
  • the extent to which the advocacy is a collaborative effort beyond NFPA
  • the extent to which the potential recipient reflects Jim Shannon’s values
2016 winner

Stephen CoanStephen D. Coan, the recently retired Massachusetts State Fire Marshal, received the 2016 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal for his tenure with the fire service, his years of fire investigation and code enforcement leadership in the Bay State, and his extensive fire safety education efforts.

Coan headed the Department of Fire Services since its creation in 1995, and was Massachusetts’ longest running state fire marshal with 20 years of service. Prior to that he was the director of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. During these two roles, Coan oversaw the construction of two Fire Services campuses in Greater Boston and Western Massachusetts.

Coan’s significant contributions to the fire safety field include his advocacy for effective fire prevention codes, strong enforcement practices and community outreach. He prioritized public fire and life safety education, working tirelessly to ensure that Massachusetts adopt the Student Awareness of Fire Education or S.A.F.E. Program. This program has reduced child fire deaths by more than 70 percent in the past 20 years. Building on this success, Coan then launched the Senior S.A.F.E. Program to help reduce elderly fire deaths.

Following the 1999 Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Fire that killed six firefighters, Coan led the charge for changes to fire service response. Within a year of the 2003 Station Nightclub Fire in Rhode Island, where 100 lives were lost, he spearheaded the Massachusetts Fire Safety Act, which led to sweeping safety regulations that are considered among the toughest in the country. Additionally, Coan was a strong advocate for Nicole’s Law, which requires carbon monoxide detectors in most homes; and was a chief driver in the passage of the fire safe cigarette law in the Commonwealth. 

About James M. Shannon

James M. ShannonShannon concluded his 12-year tenure as NFPA president in June 2014 with an exceptional record of advocacy to reduce fire loss. Under his leadership, NFPA has considerably advanced its mission of fire safety, better protecting the general public and members of the fire service.

Shannon spearheaded the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, which quickly led to every state passing legislation requiring that cigarettes meet a specific fire safety standard. In collaboration with the fire service and others, this initiative will save hundreds of lives including the lives of firefighters who are at risk every time they respond to a cigarette related fire.

Following the success of the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, Shannon intensified NFPA’s work to advocate for mandating home fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes, another critical safeguard to enhance public safety and better protect our nation’s fire service.