Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year

In an effort to recognize educators who take the lead role in making their communities safer, NFPA presents the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award.   
2016 recipient

Sherrie LeekaSherrie Leeka, Public Education Officer for the Westminster Fire Department in Westminster, Colorado, has been chosen the 2016 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year. Sherrie has been in her position with the department for ten years and has used many NFPA public education materials during that time.

Known for her passion and enthusiasm for public education, Sherrie has expanded Fire Prevention Week into Fire Prevention Month. She developed the Citizen Fire Academy. Individual classes cover fire prevention, hazardous materials in the home, water and ice safety, and fitness and wellness. Sherrie coordinated “Fire Factor,” a program designed to prevent fire setting among 6th to 8th graders. She modified the car safety seat program to require fewer certified personnel and a consistent schedule for the public to obtain installations and inspections.

For the annual Halloween carnival, she has created a “haunted” safety tent that includes safety information on candles, smoke alarms, and Halloween.  Sherrie gets into the act, dressing up in part costume, part fire gear to deliver safety messages.


We are looking for fire and life safety educators in the United States or Canada who:

  • Work for a local fire department or fire marshal’s office.
  • Use NFPA educational programs and materials in a consistent and creative way.
  • Demonstrate excellence and innovation, reaching out to the community with NFPA materials.

Applicants can be nominated or self-nominated. Recipients of a state or provincial educator award during 2016 from a fire department association, community organization, or government entity will be considered.

The Educator of the Year receives:

  • $1,000 honorarium and travel to the NFPA annual conference for an award presentation at the general session. 
  • The local fire department receives a $1,000 donation to support public education activities.
Past recipients
  • 2015 - Lt. Annmarie Pickett, Worcester, MA
  • 2014 - Samantha Hoffmann,  Barrie, ON
  • 2013 - Tracy Koslowski, Tuscon, AZ
  • 2012 - Marsha Giesler, Downers Grove, IL
  • 2011 - Maria Pelchar, Holyoke, MA
  • 2010 - Beverly Thompson, Tucker, GA
  • 2009 - Dayna Hilton, Clarksville, AR
  • 2008 - Dawn Cull, Harrisonburg, VA
  • 2007 - Vanita Krouch and Jeff Malkowski, Farmers Branch, TX
  • 2006 - Tina Dotson, Asheville, NC
  • 2005 - Tracy Sparks, Shelby, NC
  • 2004 - Amy Hein, Glenwood, IL
  • 2003 - Rae McMullen, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 2002 - Michele Clayton, San Pedro, CA
  • 2001 - Connie Rowden, Roseville, CA
  • 2000 - Michael Jordan, Troutdale, OR