Jon Nisja, fire safety supervisor with the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD), received the 2019 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal for his passion and career-long commitment to fire safety. In particular, Nisja played a key role in changing model codes and strengthening Minnesota’s fire code. See the news release.
Nisja started his fire service career more than 40 years ago. He has since served two Minnesota communities as fire marshal and has been a fire safety supervisor with the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) since 1990. In his current role with SFMD, he leads the division’s Fire Code Team, Fire Protection Section, Data Team, and previously led the Fire and Life Safety Education Team.
Twenty years ago, Nisja was instrumental in implementing changes to the Minnesota State Fire Code for school safety. Nisja used a five-school pilot program in sprinklered schools to reduce student access to smoke detection system’s pull stations.
Nisja has authored chapters in five books, including NFPA’s “Fire and Life Safety Inspection Manual”. His areas of fire protection interest include fire safety history, means of egress, fire protection systems, building construction and using performance measures to show effectiveness.
Jim Dalton received the 2018 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal for his career long commitment and passion for fire safety culminating with his efforts that led to the passage of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. See the news release.
Dalton began his journey as a volunteer firefighter in Maryland before spending more than 25 years as a career firefighter. After his time on the frontline, he became a pivotal public safety leader advocating for smoke alarms, fire sprinklers and other lifesaving systems on a local, state and national level. When his county passed the most comprehensive smoke alarm law in the country, Dalton traveled the nation helping other jurisdictions to implement similar strategies.
Dalton was instrumental in pursuing the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act after the Station Night Club fire in Rhode Island killed 100. He worked for 15 years to maintain the effort and ultimately secure passage as part of the tax reform measures signed into law by the current administration. The bill provides incentives to small businesses who install sprinklers.
Ann Jones received the 2017 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal for her lifelong devotion to fire safety and having an influential role in the passage of a nationwide requirement for residential sprinklers. See the news release.
In 2007, Jones headed a legislative proposal that would give Wales authority to ensure that all new homes are fitted with automatic fire sprinklers. She worked diligently to get cross-party support for sprinklers, sought out skeptical legislators, educated them on safety benefits, and won over the fire and rescue service with her enthusiasm and belief. The sprinkler law passed in 2011, making Wales the first country to pass a nationwide requirement and providing a model for all jurisdictions to follow.
Jones is from Rhyl, a town on the northern coast of Wales. She worked for more than three decades in the Rhyl Fire Service emergency call center, skillfully handling emergencies with compassion and composure. Over the years, Jones also held a number of key leadership positions with the Fire Brigades Union, was a town councilor, county councilor, and town mayor. In addition, she has been a member of the National Assembly for Wales since 1999, and currently serves as the presiding officer. Her devotion to safety, education, disability issues, and women in public life is highly regarded throughout Wales and beyond. The new Shannon Advocacy Medal winner has consistently represented the best interests of her constituents in each of these roles.
Jones currently holds chair positions with the National Assembly, and participates as an active member of various committees. She leads meetings at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, and is vice president of the Assembly’s Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Stephen 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.