FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              CONTACT:  D’Arcy Montalvo

September 3, 2003                                                                              (214) 349-5965 ext. 115



Gary Keith Named Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year

AFSA Recognizes NFPA Vice President and HFSC Chairman


Dallas, TX   — The American Fire Sprinkler Association has chosen Gary Keith, Vice President of Building & Life Safety/Regional Operations for NFPA and Chairman of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, as its 2003 Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year. Lawrence Thibodeau of Hampshire Fire Protection Co. Inc., Londonderry, N.H., who is a member of the AFSA Board of Directors and Chairman of the Legislative Committee, will present the award to Keith on September 11, during the general session of AFSA’s 22nd Annual Convention & Exhibition in Boca Raton, Fla.

As Vice President of Building & Life Safety/Regional Operations for the National Fire Protection Association, Keith oversees ten regional offices that work with state and local officials to adopt NFPA codes and standards.  He also has management responsibility for NFPA 5000™, Building Construction & Safety Code™, which is the first consensus-based model building code, and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®.

Keith has chaired the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) since it was formed in 1996 through the efforts of three founding organizations, AFSA, NFPA and NFSA. The coalition was created “in response to the tremendous need to inform the public about the life-saving value of home fire sprinkler protection.”  It has already gained national prominence and has grown to include 24 steering committee, associate, and affiliate members.  Through its award-winning website, outstanding printed materials and feature segments on such television programs as ABC’s Good Morning America, HFSC has exposed millions of people in the U.S. and Canada to the life- and property-saving value of residential fire sprinklers.

 “In my nearly 25-year career, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition has been the most rewarding project I’ve worked on in terms of the spirit of cooperation. Everyone on the coalition is willing to roll up their sleeves to get the job done and put aside political differences to increase fire sprinkler awareness in North America,” says Keith.



He also proudly notes that in January 2004, residential fire sprinklers will have the largest presence ever at the International Builders Show, through a partnership between HFSC and manufacturers of residential sprinklers. In addition to a 900-sq ft island booth in the central exhibit hall, sprinklers will be showcased in all of the Show Village homes, giving an anticipated 90,000-plus members of the building industry an opportunity to view an installed residential fire sprinkler system.

Keith believes in practicing what he preaches, so he retrofitted his own home in West Bridgewater, Mass. AFSA member Yankee Sprinkler Corp., located in South Easton, Mass., installed the NFPA 13D residential system in the 20-year-old house.

“My wife, Candi, and I have three children, and when I mentioned retrofitting our home, Candi was all for it.  With the amount of travel that I do, we both feel better,” he says.

AFSA President Steve Muncy states: “As chairman of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Gary Keith has been at the forefront of efforts to educate the public about residential sprinklers. His dedication to this effort goes well beyond what is expected of him… He is truly a disciple of residential sprinklers and spreads the message about residential sprinklers in many ways. You simply can’t find anyone more dedicated to this task.”

AFSA’s Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year award honors individuals not directly involved in the fire sprinkler industry whose efforts have significantly advanced the fire protection industry and automatic fire sprinklers.  The award, previously known as the Fire Service Person of the Year, was renamed in 2001 to better reflect the diversity of backgrounds, including the fire service, as well as legislative, code, and standards-setting groups, in which individuals can have a major impact on the fire sprinkler industry. AFSA’s Board of Directors unanimously approved Gary Keith as the 2003 recipient.


Established in 1981, the American Fire Sprinkler Association is an international association representing the open shop fire sprinkler contractor. AFSA is dedicated to the educational and professional advancement of the automatic fire sprinkler industry.