Golden Sprinkler Recipients
The Golden Sprinkler Award is NFSA’s highest honor, and is presented each year to an individual who has dedicated his or her career to promoting the fire sprinkler concept and advancing the fire sprinkler industry.
2019- Buck Buchanan
NFSA is proud to present the 33rd Golden Sprinkler Award to Buck Buchanan. This award, which is the NFSA’s highest honor, is presented each year to an individual who has dedicated his or her career to advancing the fire sprinkler industry.
Buck’s career in fire sprinklers began in 1966 with Automatic Sprinkler of America. In 1975, Buck, along with George and Steve Meyer, opened Central Sprinkler Supply in Atlanta, Georgia, ultimately expanding to 14 locations, merging with Central Sprinkler and going public in 1984. Buck’s journey with the NFSA goes back to 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia, where, along with Jack Hayden, NFSA’s Southeastern Regional Director, and HOF member, they initiated what was to be informally one of the NFSA’s first state chapters.
Buck has represented Central Sprinkler on NFSA’s Board, and Globe Fire Sprinkler, the last eight years. He has served on numerous councils and committees including Manufacturers, SAM, Audit, Awards, Residential, Membership, Nominating, Quality Assurance, and Seminar. He is currently an active member of the AFSA, NFPA IFSA and FM Global’s Advisory Committee.
Buck is only the third person to receive both the NFSA’s Golden Sprinkler Award and the AFSA’s Parmalee Award (2001) along with Bill Meyer and Frank Fee III. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, and residing in Devon, Pennsylvania, Buck and his wife Carmie are the very proud parents of seven children.
2018- Jay Livingston
NFSA is proud to present the 32nd Golden Sprinkler Award to John (Jay) C. Livingston. This award, which is the NFSA’s highest honor, is presented each year to an individual who has dedicated his or her career to advancing the fire sprinkler industry.
Jay is one of NFSA’s most active members. He served on numerous NFSA Technical Committees throughout the years, including Standpipes, Piers & Wharves, Residential Sprinklers and more. He was Regional Committee Chair from 1978 through 1986, Chair of the E & S Committee from 1987 to 1993, and a member of the NFSA Board of Directors from 1998 to 2000.
As a result of his involvement, Jay is the recipient of NFSA’s Russell P . Fleming Technical Service Award and now the NFSA’s highest honor, the Golden Sprinkler Award. A Maryland native, Jay is the proud father of four children, the grandfather of 12 and a great-grandfather to two! He served in the United State Marine Corps until he was honorably discharged in 1957, and was a member of the President’s Honor Guard for President Dwight Eisenhower. We honor Jay and his years of service to the National Fire Sprinkler Association .
2017 – Jack Thacker
Jack Thacker has served this industry for over 50 years and proudly served on the NFSA Engineering and Standards committee for over 30 of those years.
He has been a passionate and unselfish leader in California as the Area Director. Jack has shared his knowledge and experience with his fellow contractors and fire authorities whenever or wherever asked.
He currently serves on many NFPA committees, and it is worthy to note that he will become the first ever recipient of our Association’s two highest honors, the Golden Sprinkler Award and the Technical Service Award, which is now known as the Russell P. Fleming Technical Service Award.
2016 – Kevin Ortyl
Kevin Ortyl served on the NFSA Board of Directors for almost 30 years and has chaired several NFSA committees and initiatives over this time.
In honoring him with the Golden Sprinkler Award, the NFSA Awards Committee noted his leadership in promoting the growth of the industry as well as his contribution to driving a greater acceptance of fire sprinklers overall.
Ortyl was also the first chairman of the Suppliers and Manufacturers Council of the NFSA.
2015 – Buddy Dewar
2014 – Gregg Huennekens
Gregg Huennekens started his career as a design trainee for the Grunau Company. In 1969, Gregg took a position as a sales trainee for Automatic Sprinkler Corp. of America in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and became District Manager in 1972. He moved to Northbrook, Illinois in 1976 when he was appointed Vice President of F.E. Moran’s Fire Protection Division. In 1981, he became President and part-owner of F.E. Moran Fire Protection and F.E. Moran Special Hazards. Recognizing the growth being achieved by the fire sprinkler industry, in 1986 Gregg started United States Fire Protection in Chicago and Milwaukee. In 1995 he was instrumental in starting Alliance Fire Protection, also in the Chicago area, and in 2000 sold all three companies to the API Group on whose Board of Directors he sits.
Over the years Gregg served on several NFSA local 183 negotiating committees. Gregg also served on several 669 bargaining committees, the Common Voices Board, and as a trustee on the NASI Pension and Health and Welfare Fund. Gregg served as Area Director for the North Central Region, representing members from that area on NFSA’s Board of Directors. He has served as Treasurer, Vice Chair and Chair of the Board. He also served on the Finance Committee and Long Term Planning Committee. Gregg’s contribution to the industry is immeasurable.
2013 – Richard Ackley
As founder and President of Dalmatian Fire, Inc., Rich Ackley expanded his Indianapolis-based fire sprinkler business he started in 1989 with offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky. Rich started his career working in a sprinkler fabrication shop in 1963 with Viking Sprinkler in Cincinnati.
Rich has always given back to the industry, being a near lifetime member of NFSA and NFPA. He chaired the Southern Ohio Fire Sprinkler Association at the age of 23, chaired the Indiana Fire Sprinkler Association in 1993-94, served seven years on the Local 660 JATC from 1992-99, represented the sprinkler industry on the Top Notch Board in Indiana for a decade and served on the NFSA Board of Director as Area 5 Director representing Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia. In addition to serving on numerous NFSA Committees over the years, Rich served on the NFSA Contractors Council, the Labor Advisory Committee and chaired the NFSA Membership Committee. He was involved with six Local 669 Negotiating Committees for collective bargaining purposes.
2012 – Claude L. Chafin
2011 – James Dalton
Jim Dalton has spent over 60 years in fire protection, having begun his long career as a recruit firefighter in Montgomery County, Maryland in March of 1960. His first 17 years were spent in the Fire Suppression Division where he progressed through the ranks to the position of Assistant Fire Chief. He was selected as Fireman of the Year in 1963 and in addition to several other service awards, received awards for Invaluable Service to the Community and Outstanding Performance of Duty.
In 1977, Jim was appointed Chief Fire Marshal for Montgomery County, Maryland, a position he held until 1983, when he accepted a position with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors as a fire prevention, fire safety education and fire protection specialist. During this time, Jim became coordinator of the National Community Volunteer Fire Prevention Program for the United States Fire Administration.
In the fall of 1986, Jim became a consultant to the International Association of Fire Chiefs to develop and deliver a series of residential fire sprinkler workshops. A year later, he was appointed Director of Operation Life Safety, a public/private partnership of the U.S. Fire Administration, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the private sector to promote the use of fast-response residential fire sprinklers from homes to high-rises. In 1993, he accepted a position as Director of Public Fire Protection for NFSA. In that capacity, Jim spent many years working at the national, state, and local level with the fire community, public policy makers and advocacy groups to provide educational and technical information and resources regarding the life-safety, property preservation and economic advantages of fire sprinkler code and legislative initiatives. In April of 2020, Jim was inducted into The National Fire Heritage Center’s Hall of Legends, Legacies & Leaders.
2010 – Ausmus Marburger
Aus’s start in the fire sprinkler industry began in 1979, with a position as General Manager of Automatic Sprinkler Corp. of America (ASCOA). After a brief stint with ASCOA, Aus joined Fire Protection Industries as Vice President of Operations. He quickly rose to President, a position he held for many years.
In 2008, the Governor of Pennsylvania appointed Aus to the State’s Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council, representing commercial contractors. From 1994-2000, he was a board member of the Penn State’s Engineering Society, where as chair of it’s Cooperative Education Committee he increased student participation to 40%.
He was a member of the NFPA 14 Technical Committee on Sprinkler Installation Criteria for over 10 years. Aus was NFSA’s Area 2 Director, he chaired the Association’s PenJerDel Chapter and continued to represent contractor interests as a member of the local Joint Apprenticeship and Training, Multiemployer Bargaining and Industry Promotion Fund Advisory Committees.
He represented Area 2 on NFSA’s Engineering and Standards Committee. As a two-term Chair of NFSA’s Board of Directors (2002-2006), Aus was instrumental in increasing membership, advocating for open meetings and great participation opportunities for small and mid-sized contractors. Aus layed the foundation for the Association’s first generation of Best Practice Initiatives and initiated the “From the Boardroom” column in the Association’s magazine. One of his greatest accomplishments was the inspiration in founding Common Voices, a group of advocates who’s stories of tremendous adversity due to fire fueled their passions regarding the life- and property-saving benefits of fire sprinkler systems.
2009 – Wayne Gey
2008 – Kevin T. Fee
Kevin Fee is one of three third generation owner and operators of Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Company, a 100+ year-old manufacturer and distributor of fire sprinkler equipment. The 2010s also marked the beginning of the Fee family’s 4th generation of leadership at Reliable, with founder Frank J. Fee’s great-grandsons Kevin “KJ” Fee Jr. and FJ Fee IV joining the management team. Kevin is the longest-standing NFSA board member and a former Chair of the Board.As a member of the Board of Directors, Kevin continues to work tirelessly towards the origin and development of significant NFSA positions and programs. Some of his accomplishments include initiation of “Grass Roots” participation and expanding NFSA’s products and services. Kevin worked towards increasing the staff of Regional Managers to cover and administer NFSA programs. He worked to form the SAM Council, to create a forum for supplier and manufacturer members, giving them an all-important vote and voice on the Board of Directors.
Kevin was instrumental in the creation of the Sprinkler Manufacturer’s Industry Fund, which is financed and directed solely by sprinkler manufacturers to provide funding for programs and events that promote the fire sprinkler concept. A founding member of the International Fire Sprinkler Association (now called The International Fire Sprinkler Alliance), Kevin was Chair of its Board of Governors for three years.
2007 – Robert L. McLeod, Jr.
Following an impressive career with the fire services in the state of Florida, Bob “Mac” McLeod joined the NFSA team in 1984 as a Regional Manager.
Over the years Mac tirelessly served the NFSA and its membership with everything from NICET exam preparation education to representing the fire sprinkler industry in the building code arena as a member of the SBCCI Fire and Life Safety Committee.
Mac later was to become NFSA’s first Director of Training and Education. Following this, Mac switched gears and was promoted to the position of Director of Regional Operations and later went on to become Vice President responsible for supervising the activities of the Association’s Regional Managers located across the nation.
2006 – William Oliver
Bill’s career in the fire sprinkler industry began in 1957, they year his father started Oliver Sprinkler Company. As the company grew, Bill made time to join and support industry groups that were key to the company’s development.
He was active on the Boards of the Subcontractors Association of Delaware Valley and the General Building Contractors Association. As an Area Director for NFSA, he represented fire sprinkler contractor members from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
Bill was Chair of the NFSA Board of Directors from 1998 to 2000. He sat on the Philadelphia Fire code Board after the disastrous Meridian high-rise fire, helping develop the city’s High-Rise Retrofit Ordinance. His tenure on the Local 692 Apprenticeship and Negotiating Committees began the day his father died and ended in 1999, when he officially retired from the position of President of Oliver Sprinkler Company.
2005 – John A. Viniello
John Viniello began his career with the NFSA serving in a number of positions from 1973 to 1980, including Vice President of Field Operations. For the next three years, he worked for Grinnell Fire Protection in Providence, Rhode Island, where he helped pioneer the development of residential/quick response fire sprinkler technology. It was his recommendation to utilize the residential quick response technology in standard sprinklers.
In 1984, at a time when the NFSA was struggling with its identity, the Board of Directors elected John as President, a position he held for almost 30 years. John also served as Managing Director and Board Member of the IFSA, Treasurer of the European Fire Sprinkler Network, Board Member of the Center for Campus Fire Safety and Common Voices.
John’s accomplishments and the contributions he made to the fire sprinkler industry are many, and, like all great leaders, if asked about his crown-jewel achievement, he would probably point to the ensemble of world-class talent he surrounded himself with at Association headquarters.
2004 – Gene B. Endthoff
Gene’s long career in building codes began in 1975, when he was first appointed as a building official. During his tenure, he chaired numerous committees for BOCA International, including the Code Interpretations Committee and the Chapter 8 Fire Protection Re-write Committee. He was elected President of the Basin Association of Code Administrators of West Texas in 1978 and elected to the Executive Board of BOCA International in 1983. Gene was awarded the BOCA Chapter 7 Service Award in 1978. Gehe was a strong advocate of testing and certification of code officials and worked on committees to develop some of the first examinations offered by BOCA.
He became certified as a Building Official in 1981, in 1982, he became a One- and Two-Family Dwelling Inspector and a Licensed State Plumbing Inspector. Following his appointment as NFSA’s Midwest Regional Manager in 1985, he became the fire sprinkler industry spokesperson in the BOCA Codes and the Board for the Coordination of Model Codes. In this role, he began working for improved sprinkler requirements in the BOCA National Building Code, as well as the Standard Building Code and the Uniform Building Code. In a few short years, Gene was appointed to the position of NFSA National Codes Manager, and then Director of Codes, gradually becoming a major spokesperson for the fire sprinkler industry. In 1999, Gene drafted the first edition of NFSA’s Fire Sprinkler Guide. The Guide became the textbook for the Sprinkler Advantage Training programs nationwide.
2003 – Raymond Malek
During his years with Grunau Company, Ray held many positions, including Senior Vice President. Under his watch, Grunau grew to become one of the largest and most successful sprinkler contractors in the country. In 1971, Ray was instrumental in the acquisition of Vogel Corporation, a sprinkler manufacturing company in Connecticut formerly known as Eddy Sprinkler Company. Shortly after the acquisition and relocation of Vogel to South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the company was renamed Grunau Sprinkler Manufacturing Corporation. Ray managed both Grunau Sprinkler Manufacturing and Grunau’s contracting division through 1975. In 1976, he was named President of Grunau Sprinkler Manufacturing, a position he led through 1983, the year Grunau Company purchased Star Sprinkler Corporation. Following the purchase, Star Sprinkler merged into Grunau Sprinkler Manufacturing, retaining the Star Sprinkler name. Following the merger through 1987, Ray served as Executive Vice President of Star Sprinkler Corporation.
Still, after 33 years of success in the industry, Ray longed to run his own company, which motivated him to buy the Star Sprinkler Distribution Center in Anaheim, California and founding Starfire, Inc. Shortly afterward he opened Starfire’s Midwest distribution center in St. Francis, Wisconsin and turned a relatively small business into leading distribution centers in the Midwest and Southern California.
Over the years, Ray served on numerous NFSA committees. In the early years from 1954 to 1971, he was a member of the NFSA Local 183 Joint Apprenticeship and Labor Negotiating
Committee, where he was instrumental in getting licensing requirements for installers of fire sprinkler systems. From 1971 to 1984, he served on the NFSA Engineering & Standards Committee, a time at which fast response sprinkler technology was being developed. He was Chairman of the NFSA Engineering and Standards Welding Subcommittee, where he played an integral role in the development of welding requirements adopted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In fact, many of Ray’s drawings and welding details remained in NFPA 13 until 1999. He also served on the Association’s Board of Directors from 1975 to 1987 and was a member of the Supplier and Manufacturers (SAM) Council until 2003.
2002 – Michael J. Friedman
From 1969-1993, Mike Friedman ran A.C. McDonald, Inc., a successful fire protection contracting company in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1993, he began a consulting firm specializing in training and education. From 1978=1993, Mike was a member of the NFSA Board of Directors, serving as Chairman for two terms.
He represented the fire sprinkler industry on many committees and projects. He is directly responsible for establishing the first national certification programs for Fire Protection Engineering Technicians under the National Institute of Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). The program continues today as one of the most recognized programs in the country for competency testing of fire sprinkler layout technicians and is the prerequisite to fire sprinkler contractor licensing in nearly every state that requires such licensing.
Mike traveled North America delivering NFSA training seminars on topics of vital importance to the fire sprinkler industry. He is known as one of the pioneers bringing NFSA training and education to new heights within the industry.
2001 – Richard D. Sullivan
Starting with the Association in 1965, Rich Sullivan served as Secretary of NFSA’s Building Code Committee and attended model code hearings to help build the fire sprinkler market. It was in labor relations that he made his mark, heading up that effort for the Association from the time of Ray Casey’s retirement in 1978, until August of 2000.
Rich had a major role in many of the administrative aspects of the Association, including running the Annual Seminars and, as Corporate Secretary, meetings of the Board of Directors.
As one NFSA member put it, “Rich spent his career helping contractors.” After over 36 years of service to the fire sprinkler industry, Rich retired in 2001.
2000 – Richard T. Groos
Richard started his career in the fire sprinkler industry at The Viking Corporation and Tyden Seal Company in 1955. In 1961, he became President and served until 1990, when he became CEO of Viking’s parent company, Tyden Group.
Richard wrote many of the technical data pages of the company and started the industry’s first fire sprinkler training seminar. He registered two patents and played an integral role in developing many of the products and concepts responsible for the company’s success.
Richard served on the NFSA Board of Directors from 1971 to 1982. He also served as the first chairman of the Manufacturers Council from 1974 to 1976.
1999 – Raymond Kenz
Ray began his career in fire protection in 1949 when he became a sales trainee with “The Automatic Sprinkler Corporation of American, in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1952, Automatic sent him to Los Angeles where he managed their West Coast Special Hazards Department for eight years.
Following his departure from Automatic in 1960, Ray went into business with his father Anthony E.Kenz and formed Southwest Fire Protection Company where he later became President and CEO. Over a career that spanned six decades, Ray made numerous contributions to the fire sprinkler industry.
He was one of the founders of the Fire Sprinkler Contractor’s Association of Southern California where he served on the Board of Directors and was President on three different occasions. He was also a member of the Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board for nine years. Until his retirement in 1997, he served three consecutive terms on the NFSA Board of Directors representing contractors from the West Coast.
1998 – Frank J. Fee, III
Frank J. Fee III, Reliable’s Chairman, has served on the National Fire Protection Association’s International Advisory Board. He was past Chairman of the Board and Director of the National Fire Sprinkler Association and held several Board positions including Treasurer, Secretary, and Director of the National Fire Protection Association.
Frank has been active in the fire sprinkler industry since he earned his BSME at the University of Notre Dame in 1964, when he became Vice President of his family-owned company, Reliable Automatic Sprinklers.
In 1966, he was appointed to represent Reliable on the NFPA Board of Directors, a position he held for 17 years. In 1980, several years after becoming President of Reliable, Frank was elected NFSA Chair of the Board, serving one term.
1997 – Robert C. Worthington
Before, during and after earning his Engineering degree from University of Rhode Island in 1960, Bob pioneered groundbreaking fire protection technology through his leadership in innovative sprinkler system design, education, product design, manufacturing and logistics.
The Golden Sprinkler Award was given to Bob in recognition of his life-long commitment to saving lives and protecting property from the ravages of fire. After serving in executive leadership roles at industry-leading companies Star Sprinkler (PA) and Central Sprinkler (PA), Mr. Worthington purchased Standish-based Globe Sprinkler in 1988.
During an era when U.S. manufacturing companies moved jobs overseas, Bob instead focused on keeping jobs in the US by exporting consistent high-quality US-made products through a worldwide network of distribution partners.
1996 – Cos Occhipinti
1995 – Joe E. Wiginton
Joe began his career in the fire sprinkler industry at the age of 17 when he began as a sprinkler fitter’s helper working for the William H. LaDew Company in Dallas, Texas.
After a tour of duty with the U.S. Army Combat Engineers, Joe returned to work in the fire sprinkler industry where he held various positions with the LaDew Company, Henley & Beckwith of Miami, and Viking Fire Protection of S.E. in Orlando and Nashville.
In 1967 he founded Wiginton Fire Sprinklers, Inc. in Orlando. He served on NFSA’s Board of Directors, chaired the Annual Seminar and Membership Committees and as President of the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association, where he was instrumental in forming NFSA’s Florida Chapter.
1994 – William J. Meyer
Bill Meyer was a legend in the fire sprinkler industry. Starting as a fitter for “Automatic” Sprinkler Corporation of America in 1944, he bought Star Sprinkler from long-time friend Seddon Duke in 1964, later selling it to the INA Corporation.
In 1973, he purchased a small company known as Central Automatic Sprinkler and oversaw its growth into a leading fire sprinkler manufacturer until his retirement in 1984.
During this time, Central Sprinkler produced several industry innovations, including what many acclaimed as the first aesthetically appealing residential sprinkler, credited with overcoming a major objection to the installation of fire sprinklers in homes.
1993 – Richard J. (Dick) Boulanger
Dick was a strong supporter of NFSA and served in both local and national leadership positions. After serving with the U.S. Navy in Korea, he attended Seattle University, obtaining a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering.
He began his career in 1954 as a designer trainee for Sentry Automatic Sprinkler Company in Tacoma, Washington.
He later represented the Pacific Northwest on NFSA’s Contractor Council and on the Board of Directors, where he served as Chair in 1984-85. His career in the fire sprinkler industry spanned over five decades.
1992 – Harry N. Rider
Beginning his career in 1919 in the drafting department of Automatic Sprinkler Corporation of America, Harry’s talents led him through a series of promotions, until his retirement as Vice President in 1964.
A registered professional engineer, Rider developed numerous innovative fire protection products and improved existing designs.
He holds 35 U.S. patents and several foreign patents, some of which are still in use today. His many contributions opened new market opportunities and helped make the fire sprinkler industry what it is today.
Harry was a long time member of NFSA’s Engineering and Standards Committee.
1991 – Harold P. Eidson
1990 – Richard Martineau
Richard Martineau spent his entire professional career in the fire sprinkler industry.
He was familiar with all aspects of fire sprinkler contracting and installation and was considered an expert in the areas of hydraulic calculation and computer-aided design.
A long-time member of NFPA technical committees and NFSA’s Engineering and Standards Committee, Martineau served as NFSA Chair of the Board in 1982-83.
1989 – John J. (Jack) Ryan
Joining what was then Culligan FyrProtexion, Inc. of Indianapolis in 1955 after graduating from St. Joseph’s College, John worked as a shop-hand, apprentice, journeyman, bookkeeper, and foreman, and layout technician before moving into management, eventually becoming President of the company in 1969.
He was first elected a Director of the NFSA in 1971, serving as Chairman of the Board from 1976 to 1978.
1988 – William R. Goss
Bill’s career began in 1941 with the Los Angeles Fire Department, where he worked his way up through the ranks, eventually attaining the position of Fire Marshal and Chief Fire Prevention Engineer of the City of Los Angeles, He also served as an advisor to the International Conference of Building Officials and held various posts at the state, national and international levels.
Bill played a key role in the development of the California Uniform Fire code since its inception. Bill came to NFSA as a Regional Manager in 1969. At the time there were only two regional managers covering the entire country. Reflecting on those early years, during his 1988 Golden Sprinkler Award acceptance speech, he fondly recalled being told “just get around and see people and stay out of the way of labor.”
The extension of his fire protection career with NFSA lasted 19 years. He retired in 1988.
1987 – Raymond J. Casey
Hired by the Association as Director of Labor Relations in 1952 following graduation from Union College and an early career spent in industrial relations within the steel, paper and textile industries, Raymond was named the Association’s Executive Director in 1955, and President in 1971.
He served until his retirement in 1978 and is credited with the vision of an Association offering a wide range of services to its members while increasing the demand for the sprinkler concept through the vehicle of codes and standards.