Home Safety Council Presents the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education to Sharon Gamache

At the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s (CFSI) National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, DC on April 29, 2010, the nonprofit Home Safety Council (HSC) and CFSI will present the fourth annual Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education to Sharon Gamache, Senior Program Manager for High-Risk Outreach Programs at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The HSC award recognizes Ms. Gamache for her career-long efforts to protect the interests of youth and older adults, particularly her focus on home injury prevention the past two decades.  She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Learn Not to Burn Preschool Program and the Remembering When Falls and Fire Prevention Program for Older Adults, as well as their adaptations for non-English speaking populations.

Initially a music education teacher, Ms. Gamache became a community organizer in St Paul, Minnesota, and soon settled on a profession in the fire and life safety field that tapped both her public education skills and her passion to help underserved populations.  She managed a highly successful pedestrian safety program and other community-based initiatives for the National Safety Council prior to joining NFPA to develop and oversee efforts targeting those at disproportionate risk of injury.

“For more than two decades, Sharon Gamache has created innovative and highly successful programs to meet the special needs of the very young, older adults, persons with disabilities, and those living below the poverty line,” says HSC president Meri-K Appy, who presented the award. “She has a special gift for connecting people and resources in ways that improve the safety and quality of life of people who are too often missed by mainstream fire and life safety outreach efforts.”

A hallmark of Gamache’s approach has been to engage members of the target audience as active participants in all phases of program development, and to provide training and support to local fire departments to raise cultural awareness and competency in working with non-traditional partners and customers. 

“Empowering the fire service to deliver high-performance safety programs and tools is essential in every community,” Appy adds.  “Sharon Gamache is a most appropriate recipient of this award.  Her contributions to the field have altered the way public educators address the crucial job of community risk reduction and our work is better for it.”

Named after Dr. Anne Wight Phillips, the award honors Dr. Phillips’ outstanding achievements as a champion of fire safety education and celebrates her role as a leader whose exemplary work in fire safety education has had a lasting impact on the nation's safety. As a member of the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, Phillips authored the 1973 Minority Report as an appendix to the Commission’s landmark report, America Burning, pushing the Commission to recognize the important role of prevention in reducing fire injury and death. Throughout her life, Dr. Phillips demonstrated an unwavering dedication to fire prevention and preparedness, as the basis to strengthening fire safety education across the country. Having established the award in her honor in 2007, the Home Safety Council aims to keep the example and spirit of Dr. Phillips alive well beyond her passing in 2009 by celebrating those whose own work has made a meaningful contribution to protecting society from unwanted fire.

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