Author(s): James Pauley. Published on November 1, 2019.

Poignant Partners


In my role at NFPA, I often get opportunities to attend and speak at many different events, and I recently participated in the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors World Burn Congress and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend. Both events are poignant reminders for me of how important the work of NFPA and its members is to our communities and to society.

The work of the Phoenix Society focuses on the optimal healing and lifelong recovery of burn survivors. But just as important is the society’s advocacy role that they have taken on for burn prevention. At the recent World Burn Congress in Anaheim, California, I was incredibly moved as I talked to burn survivors. Each has a unique and important story, and they have all found a place where they can share their stories and take advantage of the peer support offered by other survivors. One burn survivor summed up her story quite well when she said, “My burns do not define me—they refine me.” Many of the burn survivors not only benefit from the programs of the Phoenix Society, but they are are also using their voices to advocate for issues that are critically important to reducing loss from fire and other hazards. NFPA is fortunate to have our partnership with the Phoenix Society to help further our own mission.

I also traveled to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where my wife Lisa and I attended the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend. That weekend, 119 names were added to the national memorial on the grounds of the National Fire Academy. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was established by Congress to carry out the duty of honoring our fallen heroes. Many of the families are able to attend the memorial through the generosity of the Foundation. It is a weekend filled with tears and remembrance, but also one where the families are able to talk with others who have suffered similar losses and to share the stories about their family heroes. I had the privilege of reading a tribute to those fallen heroes during the ceremony.

I would encourage everyone in our NFPA community to learn more about both organizations. You can find more information on the Phoenix Society at, and on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation at