February 1, 2009 – The Congressional Fire Services Institute and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation have selected the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Common Voices for the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award.

The awards will be presented at the 21st Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner on April 2, 2009 in Washington DC.  Named after retired-Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, a strong advocate of our nation’s firefighters and rescue personnel during his 36-year career in Congress, the award recognizes organizations for their outstanding contributions to firefighter health and safety.  Both State Farm Insurance and VFIS serve as the corporate supporters of the award program.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs is being honored for its development and administration of the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System.  The goal of the program is to prevent and reduce injuries and deaths in the fire and emergency services by sharing data and case studies of near-miss incidents submitted by firefighters.  Since the program was established in 2005, more than 2,500 reports have been submitted from firefighters – from the largest metropolitan departments to one-station rural departments.  Because of the value of the information, departments across the country are now incorporating near-miss data into their training programs and education materials.

A survivor advocacy group founded by the National Fire Sprinkler Association, Common Voices consists of six women who have been sharing their stories o f personal loss to advocate for fire sprinklers.  Since the group was formed in 2007, they have visited Capitol Hill on many occasions to meet with members of Congress to advocate for the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act.  They were also actively involved in the adoption of the ICC’s Residential Code in 2008, providing compelling testimony at the ICC hearings.  In addition, they continue to travel across the country speaking to the fire service and local decision makers and testifying at code hearings to move forward fire sprinkler initiatives.

CFSI President Bill Jenaway and NFFF Chairman Dennis Compton issued a joint statement recognizing the two recipients for their achievements.  “We look forward to presenting the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Award to the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Common Voices for their outstanding contribution to the safety of our fire service.  Through their programs, both have embraced the ideals of the Sarbanes Award and the Life Safety Initiatives established by the national fire organizations in 2004.  We also extend our thanks to each of the organizations nominated for this award for their contributions to firefighter safety.”

For additional information about the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Award, please visit the CFSI and NFFF websites (www.cfsi.org and www.firehero.org).

For more information about the dinner and other events scheduled in conjunction with the dinner, visit the CFSI website at www.cfsi.org.  The annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner benefits the mission of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, a nonprofit policy organization designed to educate members of Congress about fire and life safety issues.