Validating Cleaning Procedures for Firefighter PPE Wins 2024 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal

June 17, 2024 – The National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) announced that the project on Validating Cleaning Procedures for Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was awarded the 2024 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal. This prestigious award recognizes a project completed in the previous year that best exemplifies the Research Foundation’s fire safety mission, commitment to tackling technical challenges, and collaboration on project execution.

The presentation of the Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal and recognition of Jeff Stull, Crystal Forester, Jay Tarley, and Marni Schmid took place at the NFPA Stars at Night awards ceremony during the annual NFPA Conference & Expo® (C&E) in Orlando on Sunday, June 16, 2024.

This year’s winning project, funded by a Department of Homeland Security/FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant, focused on assisting the fire service in identifying persistent contaminants from the fireground and validating cleaning methods that effectively remove these contaminants. This critical research is aimed at protecting firefighter health and safety from the many dangerous substances they are exposed to on the fireground and at other emergency response scenes. The project was lauded for providing actionable insights and contributing important updates to NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.

Award Recipients:

  • Jeff Stull has been involved with personal protective equipment (PPE) since 1983, starting his career in the US Coast Guard, where he managed several PPE projects related to hazardous materials and maritime fire protection. He has led numerous studies and projects, including the “How Clean is Clean” project, sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security since 2015.
  • Crystal Forester began her career at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 2001 and worked on several projects involving indoor air investigations using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. She investigated cleaning effectiveness on ensemble components such as boots and helmets. Crystal also led an exposure assessment project within this group to determine contamination from single fire events in an attempt to link contaminants with fire types.
  • Jay Tarley is a physical scientist and team lead for the Post-Market PPE Testing Team with the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) at NIOSH. For over 14 years, he was an investigator with the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, conducting over 100 fire investigations. For the past 11 years, he has focused on cancer-related fire service projects and turnout gear cleaning efficiency. Jay is active on several NFPA Technical Committees, including NFPA 1500, NFPA 1971, and NFPA 2500.
  • Marni Schmid has been involved in firefighter protective clothing and materials for more than 20 years. Originally a product marketer for flame-resistant enhanced visibility products, Marni started working with the Fire Industry Education Resource Organization (FIERO) in 2008 and co-developed the first FIERO Fire PPE Symposium. As a consultant and fire service advocate, Marni is an alternate member of multiple NFPA technical committees and participates in several task groups.

The 2024 NFPA Stars at Night Gala celebrated 14 individuals or organizations across seven award categories. You can learn more about this year’s recipients by visiting the awards section of the NFPA website.

For this release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research, and resources, please visit the NFPA press room.

About the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®): Founded in 1896, NFPA® is a global, self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.