The Shannon Advocacy Medal was established to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the fire loss problem through advocacy. The honor was named after former NFPA president James M. Shannon, who concluded his 12-year tenure in June 2014 with an exceptional record of advocacy to reduce fire loss.
NFPA has announced 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.
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.
About James M. Shannon
Under Shannon's leadership, NFPA 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.