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FLSS Excellence Award: Past Winners

2012 Excellence Awardee

Apfelbeck Earns Fire & Life Safety Award
Alfelbeck 2012Building/Fire Safety Division Chief Anthony "Tony" Apfelbeck is the recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award, which is sponsored by the International Code Council (ICC) and the IAFC FLSS.

"Through active involvement in code development and service on several ICC committees, Anthony Apfelbeck demonstrates his sincere commitment to public and firefighter safety," said ICC CEO Rick Weiland. "He has authored or co-authored hundreds of code change proposals, changes to Florida state statutes and IAFC position statements addressing home rule code adoption authority, consumer fireworks and residential sprinklers."

As a division chief, Apfelbeck serves as the fire marshal and building official. His expertise includes code management, plan review, inspection, code compliance and fire investigation. He holds a host of ICC, Florida and Center for Public Safety Excellence licenses and certifications including Certified Building Official, Certified Fire Marshal, Fire Instructor and Chief Fire Officer Credential.

"I believe he [Apfelbeck] has been the driving force behind many, if not all, of the recent FLSS initiatives," said nominator Adolf Zubia, South Carolina State Fire Marshal. "Without his energy, passion and initiative, the section would not have produced the positive results."

The ICC is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe and sustainable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process.

2011 Awardee

George Michehl Wins 2011 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award
George Michehl - FLSS 2011 Award WinnerGeorge Michehl, Fire Marshal of the Buffalo Grove, Ill. Fire Department and Executive Director Emeritus of the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association has been named recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award.

"George Michehl—through his service on the International Fire Code Council, which is now the Fire Service Membership Council—demonstrated his dedication to the development of fire prevention and building codes that ensure public and firefighter safety," Code Council CEO Richard P. Weiland said.

"He also is to be commended for his efforts that resulted in the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of fire-safe cigarettes legislation and the Greek Housing Fire Sprinkler Retrofit bill."

Michehl also successfully advocated for regulations in Illinois to require residential fire sprinklers, resulting in almost 70 ordinances. He currently is lobbying to ban novelty lighters.

In 88 Illinois communities, his efforts are credited for zero-square-foot thresholds for commercial and multifamily fire-sprinkler protection, more than any other state, according to Thomas Lia, Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board executive director, who nominated Michehl.

2010 Awardee

John Mueller Wins 2010 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award
John Mueller - FLSS 2010 Award WinnerNew York Deputy State Fire Administrator John Mueller has been named recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award, sponsored by the International Code Council (ICC) and the Fire & Life Safety Section (FLSS).

"John has spent his career improving life safety and public safety in the built environment to the benefit of New York State and the country," said ICC CEO Rick Weiland. "His crowning achievement is the implementation of the safe-cigarette law in New York. The statute was the first in the world and led to the same standard for fire-safe cigarettes across the United States and Canada. John is active at our code-development hearings and chaired the International Fire Code Committee during the past two cycles."

Mueller's nomination states that fire fatalities attributable to smoking materials have decreased about 33% over the four years since the safe-cigarette legislation took effect and suggests that, other than smoke alarms, no other fire-safety enhancement has produced results as impressive. He also is commended for organizational and coalition-building skills.

"I remember that his department was a pioneer in computerizing their fire-prevention inspection processes by using hand-held computerized devices to remotely access their office database. I will be forever impressed by his gracious willingness to share that process with my department. It made quite an impression on me," said Deputy Chief Joe Pierce of the Dallas Fire Department and chair of the FLSS Section.

2009 Awardee

Ed Comeau wins the 2009 Award for Excellence in Fire & Life Safety
FLSS 2009 WinnerWe are very pleased to announce that Mr. Ed Comeau is the third annual winner of the Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award, sponsored by the International Code Council (ICC). This year, the judges felt that Mr. Comeau best exemplified the award criteria of an individual whose service, professional abilities and leadership were exemplary in promoting fire prevention and who serves as an example to all fire prevention and fire protection professionals.

The award was presented at Fire-Rescue International on August 28 by Fire Chief Adolf Zubia, president of the International Code Council and Fire & Life Safety Section board member and Chief Jeffrey D. Johnson, president and chairman of the IAFC. They were joined on stage by Mr. Jim Tidwell, who was, until recently, the vice president for fire service activities for the International Code Council.

Mr. Comeau, of Belchertown, Mass., is the owner of, a technical writing firm that publishes Campus Firewatch, a monthly electronic newsletter that focuses on issues relating to campus fire safety. He is the founder and past-director of the Center for Campus Fire Safety, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization focusing on the complex issues of campus fire safety. Mr. Comeau has been instrumental in developing educational materials targeting students as well as raising national awareness of the importance of fire safety among parents, administrators, legislators and students. His writing has appeared in a number of international publications and he is the author of the campus fire-safety chapter in the current edition of the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook.

Before forming, Mr. Comeau was the chief fire investigator for the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Fire Investigations Department, responsible for the investigation of numerous major domestic and international incidents, including the English Channel Tunnel Fire, the Dusseldorf Airport Terminal Fire and the Oklahoma City bombing, among others... Read more (pdf)

2009 award photo, from left: Chief Jeffrey D. Johnson, IAFC president and chairman of the board, Chief Adolf Zubia, president of the International Code Council (ICC) and Fire & Life Safety Section board member, and Mr. Jim Tidwell, former vice president for fire service activities for ICC (far right) present the award to Mr. Ed Comeau, the publisher of Campus Firewatch for his fire prevention activities.

2008 Awardee

Michael T. Love wins the 2008 Award for Excellence in Fire & Life Safety
FLSS 2008 AwardeeDivision Chief Michael T. Love of Montgomery County (MD) Fire & Rescue is the second annual winner of the Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award.

Chief Love, on his own initiative, recognized the need for much better collaboration among fire safety professionals across the country. The problems that one AHJ may be facing in his or her community could be, and probably are, very similar to those that have been addressed elsewhere. However, there was no mechanism for easily asking questions and sharing information and solutions among fire prevention professionals.

With the explosive growth of the Internet and the resources that it provides, Chief Love realized that there was a tool that was, literally, at our fingertips and that was completely free to use. He established two chat groups on Yahoo—the National Fire and Life Safety Educator group and the EPARADE group—to foster information exchange. The growth in these two groups has been tremendous. Division Chief Love stood out among the other nominations based on the national scope of his accomplishments... Read more (pdf)

2008 award photo, from left: Mr. Jim Tidwell, ICC's VP of Fire Services Activities and Mr. Richard Weiland, ICC's Chief Executive Officer present the award to Division Chief Love. At right is Chief Adolf Zubia, FLSS Board member.

2007 Awardee

Ozzie Mirkhah Wins First Annual Excellence in Fire & Life Safety Award
The FLSS board of directors is very pleased to announce that Azarang (Ozzie) Mirkhah, PE of the Las Vegas (NV) Fire Rescue Department is the first winner of the new Excellence in Fire & Life Award, sponsored by the International Code Council (ICC).

Mr. Mirkhah's nomination cites his many years of research and ongoing communications efforts on behalf of the 1947 President's Conference on Fire Prevention. Following is an excerpt from his nominating abstract:

Since the America Burning Report, few have done more to bring a focus to fire prevention in this country. He has spent countless hours of his own time, through writing and speaking, spreading the word about the need for fire prevention. His dynamic style and passion for the subject raises everyone's awareness of the U.S. fire problem. Ozzie has revitalized the 1947 Presidents Conference on Fire Prevention by retyping the report and making it universally available. It is now a prominent report on the USFA, NFPA, IFMA and other organizations' website. His grasp of the fire problem, the need for change and his ideas in forwarding fire prevention are at the forefront of the fire service& Read more (pdf)

2007 award photo, from left: IAFC President Chief Jim Harmes and ICC VP of Fire Services Activities Mr. Jim Tidwell present the FLSS Excellence Award to Mirkhah.