Trending Topics

‘And the winner is ...': Fire service awards to highlight your FD’s best, brightest and bravest

National awards programs can showcase those above-and-beyond moments and members

BenFranklinAward (1).jpg

Highlighting the incredible contributions of those in your organization puts the focus on the work performed and the lives saved.


By FireRescue1 Staff

If you watch local news coverage of a critical incident from anywhere in the country, you’ll easily find interviews with those who were first on the scene brushing off the hero descriptor with the standard public safety response: “I was just doing my job.”

However, there are certain calls that require an above-and-beyond response. There’s also essential work that supports the long-term fire department mission and community safety – and that work should be recognized.

Highlighting the incredible contributions of those in your organization puts the focus on the work performed and the lives saved. It’s a value statement and highlights the impact of the members on the organization, as well as the organization’s impact on the community.

Recognizing the actions of first responders honors their service, and acts as inspiration for those just starting their journey. As such, we’ve compiled a list of national fire awards and recognition programs to consider when looking to elevate the life-saving work of your members.

Congressional Fire Service Institute

The CFSI awards nomination period typically opens in fall and closes early January. Learn more about CFSI Awards.

International Association of Fire Chiefs

  • Fire Chief of the Year Award: Established in 1996, the Fire Chief of the Year Award recognizes one career and one volunteer fire chief for their leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, public service and contributions to the fire service. For more information, email
  • Ben Franklin Award for Valor: Honoring the nation’s first fire chief, the Ben Franklin Award for Valor recognizes an individual or up to a four-person team for the expert training, professional service and dedication to the duty displayed in saving human life.
  • Heart Safe Community Awards: The annual Heart Safe Community Awards are presented by the IAFC EMS Section at Fire-Rescue Med to one fire department serving a large community (population of over 100,000) and one fire department serving a small/mid-sized community (population under 100,000).
  • James O. Page Award: This award recognizes an individual who has played a key role in creating and/or promoting non-clinical innovation and achievements in fire-service EMS management and leadership that has had a positive impact nationally.
  • Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award: This award honors those who have dedicated themselves to saving lives and property through the development of codes, fire-prevention practices and leadership techniques.
  • Hazmat Awards: The IAFC Hazardous Materials Committee has four hazmat awards that recognize outstanding contributions in the field of hazardous-materials emergency response, which are presented annually at the International Hazardous Materials Response conference:
    • Chairman’s Award
    • Level A Award
    • John Eversole Lifetime Achievement Award
    • Making a Difference Award
  • President’s Awards of Recognition: This award honors individuals from the fire and emergency service community who have contributed in a significant way during the president’s term
  • Safety, Health and Survival Awards: The Safety, Health and Survival Section awards recognize both organizations and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the overall environment of health and safety in their organizations or the fire service. The Safety Health and Survival Section award program is comprised of four awards:
    • Alan Brunacini Fire Service Executive Safety Award
    • Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award
    • Garry Briese IAFC Safety Performance Award
    • Chief Sandy Davis Safety Officer of the Year Award
  • Volunteer & Combination Awards: The Volunteer & Combination Officers Section issues a series of awards that recognize achievement in leadership, operations and administration. The four awards included in the VCOS awards program are:
    • John M. Buckman III Leadership Award
    • Emergency Vehicle Safe Operations Achievement Award
    • Retention and Recruitment Award
    • Training Officer Award

Learn more about IAFC Awards.

National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

  • Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Safety Leadership Award: In partnership with CFSI, this award recognizes organizations for outstanding leadership in advancing firefighter health and safety.
  • Arthur J. Glatfelter Distinguished Service Award: This award recognizes exceptional service to the NFFF by men and women who continue to support his legacy.
  • Seal of Excellence Award: This award is presented to an individual or group, or fire, rescue, EMS department that demonstrates the commitment to the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives, commitment to firefighter health and safety and for their contribution to reducing the number of firefighter line-of-duty deaths and injuries.

Learn more about NFFF awards.

National Fire Protection Association

  • DiNenno Prize: This award recognizes significant technical developments that enhance fire safety.
  • James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal: This award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the fire loss problem through advocacy.
  • NFPA Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award: This award recognizes fire service educators who reach out to their audience in creative ways and who demonstrate excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community with NFPA materials.
  • Harry C. Bigglestone Award: This award is given annually to the paper appearing in Fire Technology that best represents excellence in the communication of fire protection concepts.
  • Paul C. Lamb Award: This award honors members whose service to NFPA characterizes the height of volunteer spirit and deed. It is the highest award that NFPA bestows.

Learn more about NFPA awards.

National Volunteer Fire Council

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: This award “honors an individual who has been a volunteer firefighter for at least 20 years and whose remarkable achievements in the fire service and community exemplify outstanding performance.”
  • Chief James P. Seavey Sr. Health and Wellness Leadership Award: This award honors a volunteer firefighter, EMS provider, or rescue worker who has served as a leader in creating or promoting emergency responder health and wellness programs or initiatives in areas including, but not limited to, firefighter cancer, heart health, behavioral health, and overall health and wellness.
  • Junior Firefighter of the Year Award: This award honors a junior firefighter who has gone above and beyond in their service to their fire department.
  • Junior Firefighter Program of the Year Award: This award honors a junior firefighter program or Explorer Post that has demonstrated significant community impact, innovation, and creativity.
  • E. James Monihan Director Award: This award honors a current or former NVFC board member whose remarkable achievements on the NVFC board exemplify outstanding performance and have gone above normal expectations.

Learn more about NVFC awards.

International Association of Arson Investigators

  • Distinguished Service Award (George H. Parker Award): This award is given to individuals who are active members of the IAAI and who have shown outstanding service, effort and direction to the purposes and objectives of the Association.
  • Outstanding Chapter Award (James L. Smith Award): This award is given after a thorough study of the activities of each chapter throughout the year, including goals suggested by the president of the Association.
  • Outstanding Chapter Publication: This award is given for outstanding newsletter or magazine publications that disseminate knowledge, education and information to the chapter/international members and others.
  • Outstanding Accomplishment Award (Guy E. “Sandy” Burnette Award): This award is presented to municipalities, agencies (law enforcement or private), and companies that have developed successful programs that help to reduce the incidence of arson by implementing and achieving a progressive, innovative and successful program.
  • Award of Recognition: This award may be given to any individual or organization for service rendered to the Association and its purposes.
  • Investigator of the Year Award: This award is given to an individual who has shown outstanding achievement through the use of professional expertise in both the criminal and civil fields of arson control.
  • Hall of Flame: This award is given to individuals who have shown outstanding and significant achievements to the IAAI and the field of fire investigations in general through the use of professional expertise that advances the global mission of the IAAI.

Learn more about IAAI awards.

International Association of Wildland Firefighting

  • Wildland Fire Safety Award: This award is given to an individual in the international wildland fire community who has made a significant contribution to wildland firefighter safety, either directly on the fireline; or indirectly through management, cultural changes, or through wildland fire research.
  • Firebreak Award for Excellence in Fire Management: This award recognizes an individual who have made lasting contributions in program management and inspired others through their creativity, innovation, leadership, application, guidance, and communication in response to challenging and controversial wildland fire management issues.
  • Early Career Award in Fire Operations: This award recognizes a promising early-career professional who has demonstrated outstanding ability in any field of wildfire operations.
  • Early Career Award in Fire Science: This award recognizes a promising early-career professional who has demonstrated outstanding ability in any field of wildland fire science.
  • Ember Award for Excellence in Wildland Fire Science: This award recognizes sustained excellence in wildland fire research and to encourage innovation, exploration, application, and dissemination of important research results.

Learn more about IAWF awards.

Media Awards

This section includes awards honoring the work of fire service journalists and affiliates, as well as awards established by media entities to honor fire service professionals.

International Association of Fire Fighters

  • Media Awards: These awards recognize affiliates and journalists for their best work in communicating with their members and the public, and honors reporting and photography that best portray professional firefighters and paramedics as dedicated all-hazards responders.

Fire Engineering/FDIC International

  • ISFI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award: This award honors extraordinary accomplishments in fire service training.
  • Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award: Originally the Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement, it was renamed in honor of former Fire Engineering editor and technical editor Tom Brennan after his passing in 2006.
  • Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award: This award recognizes members who display “exemplary courage on the fireground.

Firehouse Magazine

  • Michael O. McNamee Award of Valor: This award recognizes acts of courage and bravery, including both physical acts to rescue a victim in hazardous conditions as well as critical decisions or preventative actions that ensured civilian or firefighter safety.
  • Station Design Awards: This award recognizes architects or construction firms and fire departments for their innovations and achievements in fire station design and construction.
  • Firehouse/FDSOA Emergency Vehicle Technician of the Year Award: This award focu on leadership, professional development, integrity and a commitment to the safe operation of emergency vehicles for the responders and the community.

Government awards

This section includes awards established at the federal level of government.