In recognition of his outstanding leadership, commitment to the fire service and dedication to improving firefighter safety, Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, recently received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA). This award is granted to Eagle Scouts who, after at least 25 years, have distinguished themselves in their life work and who have shared their talents with their communities on a voluntary basis.
“This award is a testament to the respect Chief Siarnicki has garnered throughout his entire fire service career. He is highly skilled at building consensus, defining objectives and achieving goals,” said Chief Dennis Compton, Chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Board of Directors. “The survivors of the fallen and our nation’s firefighters could not have a better champion when it comes to getting the support and resources they need.”
Chief Siarnicki began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Monessen, Pennsylvania. He joined the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department in 1978 and, over 24 years, progressed through the ranks to Chief of the Department. In 2001 he retired from PGFD and was appointed Executive Director of the NFFF. He is President of United Communities Volunteer Fire Department in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland and serves on several non-profit boards of directors.
Under his leadership, the NFFF has expanded services to assist the survivors of firefighters who died in the line of duty and developed programs to address firefighter safety and reduce the number of line-of-duty deaths. One of his most important contributions to the fire service is the 2004 Firefighter Life Safety Summit which resulted in the creation of the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives.
The Foundation staff nominated Siarnicki for the award and it was presented at the recent NFFF Board of Directors Meeting. Garry Briese, a member of the Board’s Advisory Committee and a DESA recipient, said Chief Siarnicki was completely surprised and honored by the award. “He credited his parents for instilling in him the importance of volunteerism and giving back to the community,” Briese noted.
The DESA was established in 1969 and is administered and presented by the National Eagle Scout Association. It is the association’s highest honor and has gained prominent standing among Scouting’s recognitions.
Of the more than 2.2 million Eagle Scouts, approximately 2,000 have been awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. Previous recipients include President Gerald R. Ford, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, former White House Chief of Staff Samuel Skinner, astronaut Neil Armstrong, as well as several governors and senators, military flag officers, university presidents, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Siarnicki has been recognized for his outstanding contributions with numerous awards, including: The 2013 CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award, The Everett E. Hudiburg Award, The Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award, Alan Brunacini Fire Services Executive Safety Award from the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs’ Presidents Award of Distinction, University of Maryland, University College Distinguished Alumnus, American Burn Association’s Moncrief Award and the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Silver Medal of Valor.