Phoenix Society (2)We all enjoy receiving a gift, right? It’s nice to feel appreciated and, if we’re lucky, it’s something useful. But at the end of the day, do you really need another engraved paperweight on your desk, or another little gold pin for your lapel? This year, rather than sending out individual gifts to its volunteers, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) decided to make a donation on behalf of them to the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. Fire codes and standards of development are written and compiled by the NFPA’s technical committees, which are made up of fire protection experts across the globe, who volunteer their time to the organization and the mission of eliminating fire loss.

To learn more about this amazing donation, we talked with reps from both NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, and here’s what we found out.

“Every few years we provide a token of appreciation to our volunteers,” said NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy Lorraine Carli. “This year, because we’re working even more closely with the Phoenix Society and have made a commitment to their future, we decided to make a donation on behalf of our volunteers, figuring that would be a more meaningful use of the funds.”

The Phoenix Society is a nonprofit organization that provides support for burn survivors through recovery programs for children, adults, and families. The NFPA does a tremendous amount of important work involving codes, numbers and statistics, and a partnership with the Phoenix Society helps to humanize the NFPA’s work.

“If we’re going to eliminate loss from fire, it’s one thing for the NFPA to talk about stats and data, facts and figures, but when you bring to the table somebody that has had a real life experience with fire that has not only changed their life but the lives of those around them, that changes the debate,” Carli said. “It makes people pay attention and think much more deeply about fire and the fact that we have not solved the fire problem yet.”

One of the challenges that fire protection experts face is that because the number of fires has gone down considerably in the last couple decades (about 8,000 people used to die in fires each year, according to Carli, and now that number is less than 3,000), the general public may not be aware that fire is still a problem.

“The average person might not know anybody who’s been impacted by fire, so how do we keep this problem front and center?” Carli said. “People might say wow, we’ve had great success, but if we still have 3,000 people per year ding in fire, we haven’t solved the problem yet.”

Sharing their stories of survival and spreading awareness can be immensely empowering for burn survivors and their healing process. According to Phoenix Society Executive Director Amy Acton, the partnership with the NFPA gives the Phoenix Society and its members a larger platform to share these stories and advocate for safety through codes, education, research and advocacy. After all, she said, the best way to prevent burn injuries is the best treatment.

“We are experts, unfortunately, on why codes are important,” Acton said. “And the NFPA and their thousands of volunteers are the experts and consensus body for how best to do it.”

The partnership has built awareness in the community, even within the NFPA and broader fire protection community.

“It has helped those in the fire protection business understand that those with burn injuries with adequate resources can recover and live productive lives,” Acton said. “We are your neighbors, classmates, and live in your community yet many have never had direct connection with someone who has recovered from a fire burn that they have worked so hard to prevent.”

The funds the NFPA donated in honor of its volunteers will go directly into the Phoenix Society’s recovery programs.

“Our goal is to assure that no one is alone in their journey to recovery,” Acton said.

For more information about the Phoenix Society or to get involved or donate, check out