The Fire Protection Research Foundation announces Matthew Paiss and Denise Smith as its newest trustees

January 23, 2023– The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF or Foundation), the research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®), has announced the selection of two new trustees: Matthew Paiss, technical advisor in the Battery Materials and Systems group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Denise L. Smith, Ph.D., professor of Health and Exercise Sciences at Skidmore College.

Paiss, who brings 28 years of emergency response experience, currently leads energy storage system safety efforts at PNNL. He previously served as president of Energy Response Solutions, Inc. and is a retired fire captain for the San Jose, CA Fire Department. His background in renewable energy started in 1982 at ARCO Solar in Camarillo, CA, before studying solar technology and fire science in Santa Cruz, CA.

Paiss brings more than a decade of experience on Emergency Responder (ER) Codes and Standards committees. He currently serves as a technical committee member on NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, and NFPA 418, Standard for Heliports, as well as UL Standards Technical Panels 9540, 1974, and IEC TC120. In addition, Paiss has delivered electrical safety training to more than 8,000 firefighters and AHJ’s across North America and in Europe.

Smith, Ph.D., is a professor of Health and Exercise Sciences at Skidmore College, where she directs the First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory and serves as a research scientist at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute. A passionate advocate for firefighter health and safety, she routinely lectures at national and international conferences. 

Smith is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a member of NFPA Fire Service Occupational Safety and Health committee, an investigator for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) firefighter fatality investigation and prevention program, and an Honorary Battalion Chief at Hanover Park FD. She has conducted extensive research aimed at understanding the physiological strain of firefighting and the health risks it imposes on firefighters. Her research is specifically focused on the cardiac, vascular, and coagulatory changes that occur during emergency operations and how these changes increase the risk of sudden cardiac events.

The FPRF is a separate, independent, nongovernmental organization with its own officers and nine trustees. The Foundation’s team of five effectively plans and manages more than four dozen projects at any given time and communicates findings in support of the NFPA mission. Over the last 40 years, FPRF research reports have been downloaded by safety-focused practitioners in more than 160 countries. Projects cover everything from fire suppression systems, emergency response, public policy, public education, detection and signaling, industrial hazards, wildfire, electrical, and building safety.

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

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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