The International Code Council Foundation honored a 92-year-old Fire Marshal, two Congressmen and the World Bank for furthering the cause of building safety and fire prevention during the recent celebration of Building Safety Week. The Silent Defender Awards recognize exemplary actions taken to improve public safety, health and welfare.
The inaugural recipient of the Silent Defender Award is Congressman Curt Weldon (R-Pa.). First elected to Congress in 1987 Congressman Weldon is the founder of the Congressional Fire Service Caucus and helped establish the Congressional Fire Service Institute. He has supported the Firefighters Grant Program, the Hometown Emergency Response and Operations Act, the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act and many other pieces of legislation that seek to improve building safety and enhance fire prevention. Congressman Weldon coined the term "silent defender" to describe members of the building safety and fire prevention professions who struggle daily to ensure the safety of the built environment, but who rarely receive recognition for their efforts.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) also received a Silent Defender Award. Congressman Blumenauer has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996. He is a strong advocate for livable communities and helps his hometown of Portland, and other cities throughout the nation, improve their quality of living in all aspects: diversity, transportation, housing, recreation and other means of smart growth. Congressman Blumenauer also champions the development of strong building codes and disaster mitigation to help prevent disasters before they occur. As a co-author of legislation to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program, Congressman Blumenauer supports the construction of disaster resistant communities by providing mitigation assistance and saving taxpayers millions of dollars in avoided flood damage.
O'Hara (Pa.) Township Fire Marshal George Sacco also received a Silent Defender Award. Nearing age 93, Sacco has committed his life's work to fire safety and prevention. He began his career in 1929 as a member of the Fire Brigade with Gulf Oil in Pittsburgh. He is a certified Pennsylvania state fire instructor and teaches at community colleges and volunteer fire departments. Sacco also visits schools to talk about fire safety and fire-related professions. Sacco's lifetime of volunteering and providing his services without financial reward is the epitome of a true "Silent Defender."
The final Silent Defender Award was presented to the World Bank. While the organization's main mission is to fight poverty around the globe, reconstruction is an important focus of the Bank's work, especially during natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. The World Bank assists nations in preparing for and recovering from disasters that can result in great human and economic losses. Through its Hazard Risk Management Program the World Bank promotes sustainable mitigation projects and initiatives, supports disaster response training and identifies means to reduce losses from natural disasters through structural and non-structural measures, community involvement and partnerships with the private sector.
The International Code Council, a membership organization dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes chose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.