NFPA Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award

Congratulations to Jessica Xenakis, Fire & Life Safety Education Coordinator, Virginia Beach Fire Department, Virginia, the 2023 NFPA Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year:  

Ms. Xenakis has led her department’s fire and life safety efforts by creating a new virtual learning resource ( while building VBFD’s “Safety Squad” program — an interactive fire and injury prevention curriculum integrated into the school system that aligns with Virginia’s Standards of Learning and the NFPA Educational Messages Advisory Committee (EMAC) Desk Reference.  Using NFPA lesson plans and educational materials, this program provides students with a variety of experiences to engage and learn in a fun way, with demonstrated results.

She is also a contract instructor in Youth Firesetting Prevention and Intervention at the National Fire Academy(NFA)  and a co-founder of the Virginia Beach Fire Foundation.  She acts as a youth firesetting program manager, child passenger safety instructor, and volunteer resource manager for her city. A recipient of the 2023 Virginia Governor’s Award of Excellence in Community Risk Reduction, Ms. Xenakis holds a BA in Spanish with a minor in Education from Old Dominion University.


Each year the Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year award is available to educators in the US & Canada who:

  • Work for a local/municipal fire department or fire marshal’s office.
  • Use NFPA educational programs and materials in a consistent and creative way for their community/audience.
  • Demonstrate excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community with NFPA materials. 

The Educator of the Year receives:

  • $1,000 honorarium which recipients can accept or forward to the charity of their choice.
  • Sparky FLS Educator of the year statue
  • Paid registration to attend the 2023 NFPA Conference & Expo
  • The local fire department or the fire marshal’s office receives a $1,000 donation to support public education activities. 

Past recipients
  • 2022 - E. Brené Duggins, Lexington, NC
  • 2021 - Lauri Volkert, Windsor, CT 
  • 2020 - Maria Bostian, Kannapolis, NC
  • 2019 - Barry Brickey, Kingsport, TN
  • 2018 - Denise Hynes, Toronto, Ontario
  • 2017 - Chief Dolly Hulin, Thomasville, NC
  • 2016 - Sherrie Leeka, Westminster, CO
  • 2015 - Lt. Annmarie Pickett, Worcester, MA
  • 2014 - Samantha Hoffmann,  Barrie, ON
  • 2013 - Tracy Koslowski, Tuscon, AZ
  • 2012 - Marsha Giesler, Downers Grove, IL
  • 2011 - Maria Pelchar, Holyoke, MA
  • 2010 - Beverly Thompson, Tucker, GA
  • 2009 - Dayna Hilton, Clarksville, AR
  • 2008 - Dawn Cull, Harrisonburg, VA
  • 2007 - Vanita Krouch and Jeff Malkowski, Farmers Branch, TX
  • 2006 - Tina Dotson, Asheville, NC
  • 2005 - Tracy Sparks, Shelby, NC
  • 2004 - Amy Hein, Glenwood, IL
  • 2003 - Rae McMullen, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 2002 - Michele Clayton, San Pedro, CA
  • 2001 - Connie Rowden, Roseville, CA
  • 2000 - Michael Jordan, Troutdale, OR