NFPA hosts Stars at Night awards gala in Boston, celebrating recipients in eight distinct award categories

In coordination with the 2022 NFPA Conference & Expo® (C&E®), the NFPA Stars at Night awards gala was hosted in Boston yesterday evening, with individuals in eight distinct award categories receiving the highest recognitions bestowed by NFPA.

The last time NFPA hosted C&E in-person was 2019. As a result, the awards ceremony honored not only the 2022 award recipients, but those from the past two years.


NFPA Challenge Coin

All the individuals honored personify the NFPA mission of reducing loss from fire, electrical and other hazards. Their career-long work has made the world a safer place through broad, far-reaching contributions rooted in curiosity, bold visions, dedication, and dogged determination. Their work represents the very essence of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem® – the eight-component system that serves as a framework for keeping people and property safe from persistent challenges and emerging issues.

Jim Pauley at the Awards event
NFPA President Jim Pauley

The award recipients for each of the honors bestowed last night were presented by Jim Pauley, NFPA CEO and president, and Amy Acton, CEO of The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and chair of the NFPA Board of Directors, as follows:

Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year

  • E. Brené Duggins, fire prevention coordinator/training captain at Holly Grove Fire Department in Lexington North Carolina - 2022
  • Lauri Volkert, fire inspector for the Windsor Connecticut Fire Marshal’s Office - 2021
  • Maria Bostian of the Kannapolis Fire Department in North Carolina - 2020

From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: E. Brené Duggins, Lauri Volkert, and Maria Bostian 

Research Foundation Medal

  • John Farley, CDR (ret), director of fire test operations at the Naval Research Laboratory’s Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability – 2020
  • Jerry Back, senior fire protection engineer at Jensen Hughes – 2020
  • Negar Elhami-Khorasani, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo – 2019
  • Thomas Gernay, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, 2019

From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: John Farley and Jerry Back and Thomas Gernay

Richard G. Biermann Award

  • Michael Johnston, executive director of codes, standards, and safety at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) - 2022

The Harry C. Bigglestone award

  • Dr. M.Z. Naser, tenure-track assistant professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences and member of the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute for Science and Engineering (AIRISE) at Clemson University - 2022
  • Nico de Koker (PhD, BScEng, BSc) a computational physicist and structural engineer and associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Stellenbosch University - 2021
  • Jim McLennan, adjunct professor, school of psychology and public health, La Trobe University - 2020

From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: Michael Johnston and Dr. M.Z. Naser

Standards Medal

  • Kerry Bell – 2022
  • Peter Willse – 2020

From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: Kerry Bell and Peter Willse

James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal

  • Jim Ford, former chief officer of Scottsdale, AZ and current director of CRR for Cave Creek, AZ - 2022
  • Gary Keith, retired vice president of engineering standards for FM Global and former vice president of field operations for NFPA - 2021
  • Paul D. Martin, retired Deputy State Fire Administrator, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service’s Office of Fire Prevention and Control

From left with NFPA President Jim Pauley and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Amy Acton: Jim Ford, Gary Keith, and Paul D. Martin

Paul C. Lamb Award

  • Keith Williams, retired president and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and UL LLC - 2022

Philip J. DiNenno Prize

  • Electrical Shock Hazard Protection by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protection - 2022

Jack Wells, who served as the primary associate at Pass and Seymour, and Henry Zylstra, who was the primary engineering lead at Schneider Electric/Square D., served as legacy presenters for the award, as the innovators of GFCI technology are no longer living. 

From left: Keith Williams and Jack Wells

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Susan McKelvey
Communications Manager