The National Fire Protection Association awards 2019 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal to Jon Nisja, Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division

June 17, 2019 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced Jon Nisja, fire safety supervisor with the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD), as the winner of the 2019 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal. Nisja has been awarded this year’s 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.

The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal was established in honor of Jim Shannon, who served as NFPA president for 12 years, beginning in 2002. Shannon was known for his tireless advocacy. Under his leadership, NFPA significantly advanced its mission of promoting fire safety and protecting both the general public and members of the fire service alike by proactively working towards key changes that reduce fire loss. He was also a vocal advocate for home fire sprinklers and intensified NFPA’s efforts in support of requirements for this technology.

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.

Nisja has used fire loss and fire prevention data to assist with legislative efforts, fire code development, and to bring architects, engineers, and fire investigators up-to-date on fire prevention challenges. Twenty years ago, he 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.

Nisja has served as the president of the Fire Marshals Association of Minnesota (FMAM) and the president of the International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA). He continues to serve as a FMAM board member and is well-recognized as one of Minnesota’s most influential voices in the area of fire prevention.

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About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at

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