The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) and the International Fire Service Training Association at Fire Protection Publications, Oklahoma State University (IFSTA/FPP-OSU) are honored to select two fire prevention education pioneers, Cathy Lohr and Pam Powell, as the 2015 recipients of the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education. The award presentation will take place on April 16th at the 27th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, D.C.
Catherine B. Lohr:
Cathy Lohr became a fire safety educator for Guilford County, North Carolina in 1970, making her the first fire department staff person in the nation whose sole responsibility was fire prevention education. This distinction came about three years before America Burning was published.
The federal fire programs were in their infancy when the Public Education Division of the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration (NFPCA) identified successful public fire educators and Cathy Lohr was among the core members of the assembled group. The 1976 publication she authored, Teaching Fire Safety Education for the NFPCA, was based on her own experience in teaching school children. In this document, she blazed the trail for championing the importance of community involvement and program evaluation to measure success.
On the state level Ms. Lohr was instrumental in working with the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in 1983 to implement a statewide Learn Not to Burn® program that continues to this day. On any given day in North Carolina, thousands of school children learn about fire and burn prevention. Cathy’s success in North Carolina became the gold standard for state level fire prevention education.
Ms. Lohr was an original Learn Not to Burn Field Representative for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and later was a NFPA Risk Watch Field Advisor. She has influenced the profession through speaking at fire prevention conferences across America, authoring publications and serving as a validation committee member for the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) first fire prevention education manual, IFSTA 606 Public Fire Education, 1st Edition in 1979.
In retirement, she continues to work in fire prevention as a member of the North Carolina Fire and Life Safety Education Council.
In 1976, Cathy had a dream to build a network of qualified fire and life safety educators. She made it happen in North Carolina and led others across America to make the dream a reality coast to coast. In 2016, North Carolina will celebrate the 40th consecutive state public fire education conference.
Cathy says, “In my heart and spirit, I will always be in the fire service. I am a fire prevention educator always.” Bill Jenaway, CFSI President; Craig Hannan, Director of Fire Protection Publications at OSU; and Mike Wieder, IFSTA Executive Director issued a joint statement honoring Ms. Lohr. “Cathy Lohr is a leader among leaders in preventing fires and burns through public education. She set a high bar for excellence in implementing local and statewide educational programs to keep North Carolina and America fire safe. Generations of fire and life safety educators have benefited from her passionate and effective leadership. It is with pride that we acknowledge the impact of Cathy’s work by presenting to her the 2015 Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education.”
Pamela A. Powell:
The early pioneers of fire prevention education at the national level were staffers of the Public Education Division at the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration (NFPCA). This division validated the impact of Dr. Anne Phillips’s contribution to America Burning. Pam Powell stepped into the new agency and was instrumental in bringing the vision of Dr. Phillips into reality.
In 1974 fire prevention educators on the local level were isolated and had few resources. To support grassroots fire and life safety educators, Ms. Powell was instrumental in delivering national fire safety education conferences, to build a network of fire safety educators from states and local jurisdictions.
These national conferences became a model for state conferences. Over forty years later, state conferences devoted to fire and life safety education continue across America.
Ms. Powell produced the 1977 hallmark fire prevention education document, Public Fire Education Planning: A Five-Step Process. It continues to be distributed by FEMA in an updated version 38 years after its original publication. Public Fire Education Planning can be considered the forerunner of Community Risk Reduction.
Forty years ago, fire and life safety educators worked largely in isolation and all too often faced resistance from “suppression only” peers. Ms. Powell partnered with state and local advocates to overcome opposition and secure their role in the fire and emergency response community through the Public Education Assistance Program she managed at the NFPCA. Pam’s work gave positive meaning to the phrase “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” Her work was guided by Anne Phillip’s vision of fire prevention as an equal and integral companion to fire suppression.
Two generations of fire and life safety educators have completed fire service careers since the establishment of the Public Education Division of the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration (the precursor of the United States Fire Administration). In local fire departments and state public safety agencies, fire and life safety education flourishes. When today’s educators plan a program based on risk, participate in a conference, or call a peer for advice, they are benefitting from and advancing the work that Pam began.
After leaving USFA, Ms. Powell divided her career between fire and life safety education, technical writing and editorial management. She was section editor of the first fire and life safety education section of the Fire Protection Handbook, first executive director of NFPA’s Learn Not to Burn Foundation, and the author of IFSTA’s Fire and Life Safety Educator, 2nd Edition. She is a nationally certified Fire and Life Safety Educator.
Mike Wieder, IFSTA Executive Director along with Bill Jenaway, CFSI President, and Craig Hannan, Director of Fire Protection Publications at OSU, join together to honor Ms. Powell. “Pam Powell made significant contributions to bring the vision of Dr. Anne W. Phillips into reality in the early days of our federal fire programs. Her contributions benefit fire and life safety educators today as they make their communities more fire safe. We are very pleased to recognize the legacy of her work by presenting Pam with the 2015 Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education.”
Recognizing IFSTA’s support of the program, Jenaway extended his thanks to IFSTA/FPP and Oklahoma State University. “On behalf of my fellow board members, including Louis J. Amabili who served with Anne Phillips on the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, I extend my personal thanks to IFSTA/FPP-OSU for its continued support of CFSI. The Dr. Anne W. Phillips award is very important to maintaining a constant awareness of the benefit of fire and life safety education throughout the nation.”