NFPA announces new Board member and officers

Dr. Denis OniealJune 24, 2020 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced its new Officers and the election of Dr. Denis Onieal to its Board of Directors, effective June 17, 2020.

Amy Acton, a burn survivor and former burn nurse and nurse manager, has been named Chair of the NFPA Board. This marks only the second time in the nearly 125-year history of NFPA, the Board will be led by a female. Acton serves as the Executive Director of Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, working to refine Phoenix Society’s mission and business outreach strategy to ensure that more people are aware of burn causes, injuries, rehabilitation, and recovery. She is joined by, John Bonney, the first international Board member serving in an officer role on the NFPA Board of Directors. Bonney, owner of Alendi Consulting Ltd. and Alchemy Management Solutions, Ltd. which help organizations identify, quantify, and map risk and then employ strategies to reduce that risk, is the new Board secretary. Bonney is also a former national president of the Chief Fire Officer’s Association in the United Kingdom and was chief fire officer in Hampshire County, England for ten years. Rounding out the rest of the NFPA Board of Directors leadership team are Russell Leavitt as 1st vice chair, R. David Paulison as 2nd vice chair, Donny Cook as assistant secretary, Roger Montembeault for a second term as treasurer, Kwame Cooper as assistant treasurer, and Keith Williams as immediate past chair. 

Onieal, the newest member of the NFPA Board, recently retired from his role as deputy fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration (USFA), where he was responsible for the leadership of more than 400 career and contract employees, as well as the oversight of a 110-acre campus and 26 historic buildings. Onieal was responsible for the United States National Fire Academy (NFA) which trains 100,000+ mid- to senior-level firefighters and officers in all aspects of executive leadership. As a thought leader, Onieal also served as a senior member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) governing council. 

During his tenure as the #2 fire leader in the country, Onieal championed fire-related research on causes of fire, especially new technologies (e.g. lithium batteries, protective clothing for firefighters, emergency vehicle conspicuity, firefighting strategy and tactics). He also oversaw the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) – the largest incident-based, all-hazards database in the world that involves 24,000+ fire departments across the nation and captures 27 million incidents per year. Onieal is a consummate collaborator known for interacting with senior federal officials within The Department Homeland Security (DHS), and across government – Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Defense, Treasury Defense and Interior – as well as other executive agencies – Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control.

Prior to his USFA role, Onieal served as the Superintendent of the National Fire Academy (NFA) for nearly two decades overseeing an on-campus resident program, off-campus training and on-line education that attracted more women and people of color than ever before as both students and faculty. Onieal helped improve the rigor of academic programs by working with a variety of resources – resulting in a standard curriculum for both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a program regarded as the national model for professional development in fire and emergency services. During vacancies between presidential appointments and periods of crisis, he also advised the FEMA Administrator and the Secretary of DHS on fire-related/disaster issues; led the FEMA team to assist FDNY at Ground Zero; and helped to induct, train, and develop more than 4,000 firefighters that were being sent to Atlanta during Hurricane Katrina. 

Prior to his federal roles, Onieal was a member of the Jersey City Fire Department in New Jersey for almost 25 years – ultimately rising to the level of chief of the department.

For his many achievements, Onieal was recognized with the International Association of Fire Chiefs President's Award for Outstanding Leadership, the Congressional Fire Services Institute Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award, the New Jersey Professional Firefighters Association Humanitarian Award, Firehouse Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award, and was lauded as a New York University Visiting Scholar. 

Onieal joins NFPA Board of Director members Brion Callori, Martha Connors, Teresa Deloach Reed, Reginal Freeman, William Fries, Hatem Kheir, Patrick Morrison, Lou Paulson, Michael Wallace, and Stacy Welch who are continuing terms.

For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research and resources, please visit the NFPA press room.

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

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

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275