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FLSS Excellence Award: Past Winners

Excellence in Fire and Life Safety Award

2014 Excellence Awardee

Hoover Earns 2014 Award
California State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover is the 2014 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award recipient.

Chief Hoover is a determined champion for the mission of CAL FIRE with a focus on fire prevention and life safety, regulating hazardous liquid pipelines, assisting in providing statewide direction in wildfire-prone areas, and providing training and education. She has championed and facilitated many fire and life safety initiatives that target home fire and life safety. Her success in implementation is due to her collaborative approach, working with stakeholders to achieve targeted results with statewide impact.

Chief Hoover has worked on many life-safety projects, including:

  • Improved statewide residential fire-sprinkler protection requirements
  • Supported ignition-resistive building-construction materials
  • Established wildfire-severity zones
  • Established new permitting guidelines for photovoltaic installation
  • Implemented recommendations from a smoke-alarm study

All of these initiatives focus on the safety of firefighters and California residents who are at risk and most vulnerable to fire in their homes. Chief Hoover has been actively involved in fire prevention, public education, and risk mitigation for more than 20 years and served as the fire marshal for the Moraga-Orinda (Calif.) Fire District, located east of the Oakland/Berkeley hills. She has also served as a deputy fire marshal for the University of California at Berkeley and fire inspector/plan reviewer for two Bay Area fire departments.

2013 Excellence Awardee

DeCrane Earns 2013 Award
Battalion Chief Sean DeCrane, 2013 FLSS ExcellenceBattalion Chief and Director of Training Sean DeCrane, City of Cleveland, Dept. of Public Safety, Division of Fire, is the 2013 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award recipient.

Chief DeCrane represents the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the Cleveland Division of Fire in the ICC process and participates in the IBC, IFC Membership Council. He is serving as the Chair for the 2015 edition of the International Fire Code. He has represented Cleveland Fire and the IAFF since 2006.

Chief DeCrane has worked on creating educational modules and educational video for the IAFF website to educate firefighters on how the code impacts firefighter safety, and how and why to get involved in the code adoption process. He established the "Protecting Our Work Environment" blog on the IAFF website and maintains updates based on ICC and NFPA code processes. Chief DeCrane co-presents a seven hour workshop, "Firefighter safety and the Building Codes: A Necessary Partnership." He also has presented at numerous fire service educational forums including FDIC, NFPA, ICC, SFPE, state organizations and the IAFF's John Redmond Health & Safety Symposium.

Chief DeCrane is a member of the NFPA 1 Technical Committee, the ICC Fire Service Membership Governing Council, the Steering Committee for Vision 20/20, Underwriters Laboratories Fire Council, UL Research Technical Panels and the Institute of Fire Engineers and is a frequent contributor to EPARADE.

2013 award photo, from left: Chief Sean Decrane City of Cleveland, Dept. of Public Safety and ICC President Ronald E. Piester

2012 Excellence Awardee

Apfelbeck Earns 2012 Fire & Life Safety Award
Alfelbeck 2012Building/Fire Safety Division Chief Anthony "Tony" Apfelbeck is the recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award.

"Through active involvement in code development and service on several ICC committees, Anthony Apfelbeck demonstrates his sincere commitment to public and firefighter safety," said ICC CEO Rick Weiland. "He has authored or co-authored hundreds of code change proposals, changes to Florida state statutes and IAFC position statements addressing home rule code adoption authority, consumer fireworks and residential sprinklers."

As a division chief, Apfelbeck serves as the fire marshal and building official. His expertise includes code management, plan review, inspection, code compliance and fire investigation. He holds a host of ICC, Florida and Center for Public Safety Excellence licenses and certifications including Certified Building Official, Certified Fire Marshal, Fire Instructor and Chief Fire Officer Credential.

"I believe he [Apfelbeck] has been the driving force behind many, if not all, of the recent FLSS initiatives," said nominator Adolf Zubia, South Carolina State Fire Marshal. "Without his energy, passion and initiative, the section would not have produced the positive results."

The ICC is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe and sustainable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process.

2012 award photo, from left: ICC CEO Rick Weiland; Building/Fire Safety Division Chief Anthony (Tony) Apfelbeck, Altamonte Springs, Fla.; IAFC First Vice President Chief William R. Metcalf.

2011 Awardee

Michehl Wins 2011 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award
George Michehl - FLSS 2011 Award WinnerGeorge Michehl, Fire Marshal of the Buffalo Grove, Ill. Fire Department and Executive Director Emeritus of the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association has been named recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award.

"George Michehl—through his service on the International Fire Code Council, which is now the Fire Service Membership Council—demonstrated his dedication to the development of fire prevention and building codes that ensure public and firefighter safety," Code Council CEO Richard P. Weiland said.

"He also is to be commended for his efforts that resulted in the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of fire-safe cigarettes legislation and the Greek Housing Fire Sprinkler Retrofit bill."

Michehl also successfully advocated for regulations in Illinois to require residential fire sprinklers, resulting in almost 70 ordinances. He currently is lobbying to ban novelty lighters.

In 88 Illinois communities, his efforts are credited for zero-square-foot thresholds for commercial and multifamily fire-sprinkler protection, more than any other state, according to Thomas Lia, Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board executive director, who nominated Michehl.

2011 award photo, from left: IAFC First Vice President Chief Hank Clemmensen; Fire Marshal George Michehl, Buffalo Grove, Ill. Fire Department; Mr. Bruce Johnson, ICC Director of Fire Service Activities.

2010 Awardee

John Mueller Wins 2010 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award
John Mueller - FLSS 2010 Award WinnerNew York Deputy State Fire Administrator John Mueller has been named recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award.

"John has spent his career improving life safety and public safety in the built environment to the benefit of New York State and the country," said ICC CEO Rick Weiland. "His crowning achievement is the implementation of the safe-cigarette law in New York. The statute was the first in the world and led to the same standard for fire-safe cigarettes across the United States and Canada. John is active at our code-development hearings and chaired the International Fire Code Committee during the past two cycles."

Mueller's nomination states that fire fatalities attributable to smoking materials have decreased about 33% over the four years since the safe-cigarette legislation took effect and suggests that, other than smoke alarms, no other fire-safety enhancement has produced results as impressive. He also is commended for organizational and coalition-building skills.

"I remember that his department was a pioneer in computerizing their fire-prevention inspection processes by using hand-held computerized devices to remotely access their office database. I will be forever impressed by his gracious willingness to share that process with my department. It made quite an impression on me," said Deputy Chief Joe Pierce of the Dallas Fire Department and chair of the FLSS Section.

2009 Awardee

Ed Comeau wins the 2009 Award for Excellence in Fire & Life Safety
FLSS 2009 WinnerMr. Ed Comeau is the third annual winner of the Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award. This year, the judges felt that Mr. Comeau best exemplified the award criteria of an individual whose service, professional abilities and leadership were exemplary in promoting fire prevention and who serves as an example to all fire prevention and fire protection professionals.

Mr. Comeau, of Belchertown, Mass., is the owner of, a technical writing firm that publishes Campus Firewatch, a monthly electronic newsletter that focuses on issues relating to campus fire safety. He is the founder and past-director of the Center for Campus Fire Safety, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization focusing on the complex issues of campus fire safety.

Mr. Comeau has been instrumental in developing educational materials targeting students as well as raising national awareness of the importance of fire safety among parents, administrators, legislators and students. His writing has appeared in a number of international publications and he is the author of the campus fire-safety chapter in the current edition of the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook.

Before forming, Mr. Comeau was the chief fire investigator for the NFPA's Fire Investigations Department, responsible for the investigation of numerous major domestic and international incidents, including the English Channel Tunnel Fire, the Dusseldorf Airport Terminal Fire and the Oklahoma City bombing, among others... Read more (pdf)

2009 award photo, from left: Chief Jeffrey D. Johnson, IAFC president and chairman of the board, Chief Adolf Zubia, president of the International Code Council (ICC) and Fire & Life Safety Section board member, and Mr. Jim Tidwell, former vice president for fire service activities for ICC (far right) present the award to Mr. Ed Comeau, the publisher of Campus Firewatch for his fire prevention activities.

2008 Awardee

Michael T. Love wins the 2008 Award for Excellence in Fire & Life Safety
FLSS 2008 AwardeeDivision Chief Michael T. Love of Montgomery County (MD) Fire & Rescue is the second annual winner of the Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award.

Chief Love, on his own initiative, recognized the need for much better collaboration among fire safety professionals across the country. The problems that one AHJ may be facing in his or her community could be, and probably are, very similar to those that have been addressed elsewhere. However, there was no mechanism for easily asking questions and sharing information and solutions among fire prevention professionals.

With the explosive growth of the Internet and the resources that it provides, Chief Love realized that there was a tool that was, literally, at our fingertips and that was completely free to use. He established two chat groups on Yahoo—the National Fire and Life Safety Educator group and the EPARADE group—to foster information exchange. The growth in these two groups has been tremendous. Division Chief Love stood out among the other nominations based on the national scope of his accomplishments... Read more (pdf)

2008 award photo, from left: Mr. Jim Tidwell, ICC's VP of Fire Services Activities and Mr. Richard Weiland, ICC's Chief Executive Officer present the award to Division Chief Love. At right is Chief Adolf Zubia, FLSS Board member.

2007 Awardee

Ozzie Mirkhah Wins First Annual Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award
The FLSS board of directors is pleased to announce that Azarang (Ozzie) Mirkhah, PE of the Las Vegas (NV) Fire Rescue Department is the first winner of the new Excellence in Fire & Life Award, sponsored by the International Code Council (ICC).

Mr. Mirkhah's nomination cites his many years of research and ongoing communications efforts on behalf of the 1947 President's Conference on Fire Prevention. Following is an excerpt from his nominating abstract:

Since the America Burning Report, few have done more to bring a focus to fire prevention in this country. He has spent countless hours of his own time, through writing and speaking, spreading the word about the need for fire prevention. His dynamic style and passion for the subject raises everyone's awareness of the U.S. fire problem. Ozzie has revitalized the 1947 Presidents Conference on Fire Prevention by retyping the report and making it universally available. It is now a prominent report on the USFA, NFPA, IFMA and other organizations' website. His grasp of the fire problem, the need for change and his ideas in forwarding fire prevention are at the forefront of the fire service... Read more (pdf)

2007 award photo, from left: IAFC President Chief Jim Harmes and ICC VP of Fire Services Activities Mr. Jim Tidwell present the FLSS Excellence Award to Mirkhah.

About the Award

The Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award honors those who have dedicated themselves to saving lives and property through the development of codes, fire-prevention practices and leadership techniques. The award is sponsored by the International Code Council (ICC) and the Fire & Life Safety Section (FLSS) of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and is presented annually during Fire-Rescue International.