DOI News

For Immediate Release: Contacts:
February 1, 2010 Kristin Milam
Johanna Royo
Davidson County Man Earns Governor's Award for Innovations
Jonathan Sowers from Welcome created a new firefighter training program
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin today announced that Jonathan Sowers, a training specialist in the Department's Fire and Rescue Training and Inspections Division, has been awarded the Governor's Award for Excellence for Innovations. Sowers developed a training program called Understanding Building Construction after 11 firefighters died in two separate building fires - nine in the 2007 Charleston, S.C. Sofa Superstore fire and two in the 2008 Salisbury Millwork fire here in North Carolina.
"Congratulations to Jonathan for his great work in educating and training our first responders," said Commissioner Goodwin. "The course he developed will go a long way in helping firefighters understand what they're dealing with when they enter a burning structure. I'm proud not only that Jonathan received this prestigious award, but more importantly that through his work firefighters will be safer."   Governor Bev Purdue, Jonathan Sowers and Commissioner Wayne Goodwin at Award Ceremony
"With the changes in technology that have come along, this is definitely a problem that we needed to address in the fire service," Sowers said about the need for establishing the building construction course. He has worked at the Office of State Fire Marshal for three years.
In developing the course, Sowers researched more than 20 years of data compiled by the United States Fire Administration, the National Fire Protection Association, the National Fire Incident Reporting System and North Carolina-specific statistics. He compared the number of lives lost (civilians and firefighters) to the building codes enforced during the 20 year period, developing a course addressing how building codes and construction methods affect the daily jobs of a firefighter. As a result of Sowers' commitment to the citizens and the fire service of North Carolina, the N.C. Fire and Rescue Commission has added an additional six to eight hours of training to the Basic Firefighter I and II programs. This program is now one of the most requested trainings offered by the Office of State Fire Marshal.
North Carolina is currently the only state that has included research from the Charleston, S.C. and Salisbury, N.C. tragedies as the basis for the development of such course. The course has been delivered more than 50 times during the past two years.
For more information about firefighter training in North Carolina, visit the Web site for the Office of State Marshal by clicking on this link.
-- NCDOI --