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DiNenno Prize


In honor of the late Philip J. DiNenno, the highly regarded former CEO of Hughes Associates who passed away in 2013, NFPA has established the DiNenno Prize to recognize significant technical developments that enhance fire safety.

In addition to honoring Mr. DiNenno's memory, the DiNenno Prize will encourage and recognize significant technical developments that have an impact on public safety, including building, fire, and electrical safety. A prize committee will consider nominations submitted from around the world. 

2019 prize

The 2019 DiNenno Prize is being given to four individuals. Each of these recipients has played a significant and substantive role in the successful promulgation of truly effective, occupancy-specific, fast-response fire sprinklers, which involve three independent technologies related to fire sprinkler response.

The first innovation is showing that the constancy of Response Time in conjunction with a controlled temperature and uniform flow wind tunnel measurement, could be used to characterize a thermally responding element under typical fire exposure conditions. Also showing that this approach could produce a means of quantifying all thermally responding devices in a predictive manner for a broad range of fire environments.

The second innovation was the development of the Quick-Response (or QR) Residential fire sprinkler, which required a fast-response link combined with specific sprinkler water discharge distribution to achieve adequate life safety suppression of fires in residential settings. Additionally, the benefit of fast-response elements showed that even with a low flow rate, a fast response, small orifice sprinkler delivering a suitable distribution of droplets was essential to suppressing fire while maintaining tenable conditions in the room of origin, which ultimately led to all major sprinkler manufacturers developing quick-response residential sprinkler products using RTI to guide their developmental work.

The third innovation was the development of the Early Suppression Fast Response, or ESFR, fire sprinkler, which required a fast-response link combined with both large droplet technology and a high sprinkler water discharge flow momentum to penetrate the high-velocity plumes of rapidly growing industrial fires in order to reach the seat of the fire.

Overall, the following three statements can be made with certainty: First, the use of Response Time technology has been overwhelmingly accepted worldwide for the characterization of fast response links. Second, Quick Response residential fire sprinklers are widely accepted and used in residential settings worldwide. And last but not least, Early Suppression Fast Response fire sprinklers are broadly used in commercial and industrial settings worldwide.

About Philip J. DiNenno

The DiNenno Prize is a memorial to Philip J. DiNenno (1953-2013) to assure that his contributions to fire safety will be remembered. The DiNenno Prize is given by the National Fire Protection Association, beginning in 2015, to recognize an important innovation that has had a significant impact on public safety (building, fire, and electrical). The DiNenno Prize is the “Nobel Prize of public safety”. The DiNenno Prize consists of a Diploma and Medal presented to each winner as well as a significant monetary award funded by an endowment. The Prize is presented at the NFPA Annual Meeting, where those being recognized for the innovation, are invited to present a plenary lecture on the Prize winning innovation. Nominations for the DiNenno Prize are by invitation only by highly regarded institutions and experts selected by the Prize Selection Committee.

Philip J. DiNenno's long professional history with NFPA:

  • Phil DiNenno was a member of the NFPA Board of Directors at the time of his death.
  • Served on NFPA’s Standards Council from 1998-2007 and was Chair from 2002-2007.
  • Served on many NFPA Technical Committees, including Gaseous Fire Extinguishing Systems, Merchant Vessels, Water Mist Fire Suppression Systems, Halon Alternative Protection Options, Fire Investigations, and Fire Tests.
  • Received NFPA's Paul C. Lamb Award in 2011 in recognition of his volunteer spirit, leadership skills, tact and diplomacy, and dedication.
  • Received NFPA's Standards Medal in 2013 for his outstanding contributions to fire safety and the development of codes and standards

Phil was best known as the founding editor of the SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering (1st Edition 1988), which he edited through four editions. He conceived the handbook when he was in his early 30’s as a means for transforming Fire Protection Engineering into a true science-based engineering discipline. The Handbook has come to define the profession. He served SFPE in many roles including President. He was awarded numerous awards by SFPE, including SFPE’s highest honor, the Guise Medal.

Phil joined Hughes Associates (HAI) in 1985, became Vice President in 1992, and was President/CEO from 1996 until the time of his death. He provided technical leadership throughout his career at HAI. It could be said that growing HAI according to his vision was Phil’s primary means of transforming the profession. As President he transformed HAI from a small, highly regarded fire science and engineering firm into a highly respected, full service fire protection engineering firm with an international footprint. Phil made a conscious decision to further the profession of FPE through commitment of HAI’s resources to SFPE and NFPA.

DiNenno Prize Selection Committee

The Selection Committee for the DiNenno Prize includes:

  • Chris Dubay, NFPA
  • Craig Beyler, Jensen Hughes
  • Margaret McNamee, SP Swedish National Technical Research Institute
  • Peter Johnson, Arup
  • Paul Croce, Factory Mutual Emeritus

DiNenno Prize Fund Donors

Founding Donors

  • National Fire Protection Association
  • JensenHughes, Inc.
  • Linda DiNenno
  • Craig Beyler


  • Eric Rosenbaum
  • Wayne Moore
  • Joseph Scheffey
  • Peter Mogk
  • Rodger Reiswig


  • Scott Chong
  • Charles and Marie DiNenno Burton
  • Dan Gottuk
  • Kathleen Almand
  • Fred Leber
  • Nestor Iwankiw
  • William Wayman
  • Kathleen Deck
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