Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship Awarded

In just its second year, the Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship, like its namesake, has become synonymous with excellence. This annual scholarship been awarded to Nicholas Eschner, a 4.0 student at Oklahoma State University.

A 46-year veteran of the fire sprinkler industry, Thomas (“Tom”) S. Waller served as chairman of the board of Viking Fire Protection of the Southeast, Highpoint, N.C. He served 10 years on the American Fire Sprinkler Association’s Board of Directors, including two years as its Chairman. Waller also chaired the Apprenticeship & Education Committee and the Fire Sprinkler Public Education & Awareness Committee, and he was co-founder of the Center for Life Safety Education. In 1996, AFSA honored Waller with the Henry S. Parmelee award in recognition of his many contributions to the industry.

After the unexpected passing of Tom Waller in May 2005, the AFSA board of directors, established this scholarship in memory of Tom Waller through its educational affiliate, the Center For Life Safety Education (CLSE). The scholarship recognizes excellence in academics and leadership and will be presented annually to a junior or senior majoring in the Fire Protection and Safety Technology Program at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla.

The 2007 winner of the Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship is Nicholas Eschner, a McHenry, Ill. native who originally came to OSU to follow his interest in the fire service. But after becoming engulfed in the study of fire protection engineering, he soon realized what drew him to the study. “The factors that have influenced me have been the constant challenges of the career, the problem solving skills that are needed, the ability to prevent accidents, the ability to give people the right to live and work in a safe environment, and the ability to save thousands of lives.” Eschner wrote in this scholarship application.

In the fall, Eschner will be a senior at OSU, where he is a presidential honor roll student, member of Phi Kappa Phi, a prestigious university honor society, president the Society of Fire Protection Engineers student chapter, president of the Fire Protection Society as well as the treasurer of the American Society of Safety Engineers and a ConocoPhilips SPIRIT scholar. In his spare time, Eschner works for the OSU Colvin Recreation Center and also volunteers when he can at the Winnetka, Ill. Fire Department and the McHenry, Ill. Parks and Recreation Department. Additionally, he volunteers as a “success coach” for incoming OSU Fire Protection and Safety Technology students. This summer, he plans on returning to Illinois to intern at a fire protection engineering firm and two local fire prevention bureaus.

As his academic advisor, professor and interim department head, James D. Brown, CSP, PE, believes that Eschner’s life-long interest and his abilities merit this award. In Eschner’s recommendation letter, Brown wrote, “Nick has a strong interest in public service and influencing the safety of communities and mitigating of a variety of natural and man-made hazards. He has the experience and maturity to understand what will be expected of him in his chosen profession.”

Agreeing with Brown about Eschner’s qualifications, Dr. Pat Brock added this comment about the 2007 recipient: “He is of outstanding character and one of our best ever!” Brown, who also served as Eschner’s advisor, presented the award to a surprised yet humbled Eschner at the SFPE’s annual awards dinner Tuesday evening.

Scholarship applications for the 2008-2009 academic year are available on the Center’s Web site ( More detail about this scholarship is also available on the Web site. To make a tax-deductible contribution to this scholarship fund, please visit or contact Janet Knowles, CLSE President at 469-385-7638.

About the CLSE

The Center for Life Safety Education (CLSE) is a not-for-profit educational organization recognized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In addition to administering the Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship, the organization provides quality, cost-effective education programs for Authorities Having Jurisdiction. Tax-deductible donations to two scholarships, the Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship and the Philip L. DeCamara Scholarship, can be made online at or mailed to CLSE, 12750 Merit Dr., Ste. 350, Dallas, TX 75251. (Please designate specific scholarship.)

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