Meet Our Board & Staff


Chief Ernest (Ernie) Mitchell, Jr.
Chairman of the Board

Ernest Mitchell, Jr. was the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration. He began his tenure on December 5, 2011 and was responsible for managing the United States Fire Administration, the programs and training activities at the National Emergency Training Center.

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Chief Mitchell retired as the Fire Chief and Assistant Director of Disaster Emergency Services for the City of Pasadena, California Fire Department after 33 years in the fire service. Chief Mitchell is an active member and former officer of the IAFC. During his last year in Pasadena he was also President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where he continued until the completion of his term. He served in Pasadena from 1998 until 2004. Prior to becoming Fire Chief in Pasadena, Chief Mitchell served as Fire Chief and Deputy City Manager in the City of Monrovia, California for seven years.  He began his career as a fire fighter with the City of Compton, California. He served there for twenty years in various ranks until leaving to become Fire Chief in the City of Monrovia.

His most recent professional affiliations include serving as a member of the International Fire Service Training Association Executive Board, the International Association of Firefighters Hazardous Materials Advisory Board, the IAFC President’s Council, the IAFC Foundation Board, and the IAFC/IAFF Labor/Management Initiative Facilitator Team.

In previous years he has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee; on numerous committees and task forces of the IAFC; and presided over several fire service organizations, including: the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association; the League of California Cities Fire Chiefs and the Foothill Fire Chiefs. He has also been an Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighters’ Everyone Goes Home ® Program, an adjunct instructor for the National Fire Academy and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Fire Chief Magazine.

Chief Mitchell has an Associate of Science Degree in Fire Science from Long Beach City College; a Bachelor Degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco; and a Master of Public Administration Degree from California State University at Northridge.

During his career Chief Mitchell has either chaired or been a member of many working committees that contributed to the progress and development of communities as well as local, state and national fire and emergency services. He is a past recipient of the IAFC President’s Award for Service and has received several community awards for service.

He is a past recipient of numerous community and organizational honors, including: the IAFC President’s Award for Service, designation as a City of Compton Hometown Hero, and selection to the Long Beach City College Alumni Hall of Fame.

John H. Granby
Secretary/Treasurer of the Board

John H. Granby has been involved with the design, manufacture, distribution and sale of protective clothing, and supporting technical services to the Fire Service for over 35 years. Over the last few years he has also been involved at the federal level in developing products and programs for both the private and public sectors in protective clothing and logistical management as well as securing funding streams for the  first responders of the United States. He is presently Vice President of Government Relations and Corporate responsibility for Lion, Inc. In addition he is an active member of the Miami Valley Urban Search and Rescue team (Federal Task Force OHTF-1) as a technical Information Specialist and served as a subject matter expert for the US&R Logistical Working Group from 1999-2003. In the 1980’s he worked with the Washington Township Fire department as a subject matter expert in Personal Protective Equipment and was an honorary member of the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association.

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John holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University and has been involved with additional postgraduate work and technical seminaries at various universities.  John is married and has one child who is now an active firefighter.

He was an active member of the National Fire Protective Association and has served on multiple committees within the NFPA including 1971, 1976, 1991 92 and 93 that address protective clothing for firefighters and as an alternate for NFPA 1500. He is a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials and has served on both ASTM F18 and F23 committees. Presently he is a member of E54 committee on Homeland Security. Previously he was Co-chair of the F18 Utility Rainwear task group the chair of F23’s FR Industrial Clothing committee. He was also involved in develop a handbook on use of protective clothing in the industrial/chemical work place.

In addition to his first responder activities he is a member of the Business Council of the US Conference of Mayors, a member of the National Advisory Council for the Congressional Fire Service institute and Chair of the Corporate Advisory Board (now called the NFFF Partner Council) of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Over the last12 years in addition his other activities he has been actively involved in working with the United States legislative and executive branches to promote a higher awareness and additional funding for the US Fire Service.

John has written many articles on protective clothing for both the industrial petro/chemical, utility market place and municipal and industrial fire service markets and Co- authored the first protective clothing design criteria ever written for firefighters. At present he is a board member of The Fire and Emergence Manufacturers and Services Association (FEMSA) and serves as a Co-Chair of the joint FEMS/FAMA Government Affairs Committee.

Barry D. Balliet

Mr. Balliet is the President of Provident in Pittsburgh, PA., a company offering group insurance benefits to emergency personnel and their families since 1928. Commencing employment in 1979, he has played an instrumental role in growing Provident from a regional concern to one with national and international reach. Under Mr. Balliet’s leadership, Provident has garnered national recognition for its innovative insurance coverages, customer care, and sincere dedication by all its staff to emergency service related causes.

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Mr. Balliet received a bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and earned his Chartered Life Underwriter designation (CLU) in 1997. Additionally, he has maintained membership at the Pleasant Valley Fire Company since 1983, having served as a firefighter and in a number of administrative roles.

He currently is the Vice President of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Foundation Board. He feels privileged to serve on various other committees within the fire service community as well as volunteering for several other outside commitments.

Fire Chief John S. Butler
Fairfax County (VA) Fire and Rescue Department

John S. Butler has been the Fire Chief for the Fairfax County (VA) Fire and Rescue Department since September 2018. He formerly served as the first internal Fire Chief for Howard County (MD) Department of Fire and Rescue Services and was the first chief to have held every rank within that department.

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He is an active paramedic and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore, a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, and certificates from the Johns Hopkins Public Safety Leadership Program, Harvard University, National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program, and Fire Service Executive Development Institute.  Chief Butler co-chairs the International Association of Fire Chiefs Diversity Executive Leadership Program; holds the Chief Fire Officer, Chief EMS Officer, Chief Training Officer, and Fire Marshal designations awarded from the Commission on Professional Credentialing; is a member of the National Fire Academy Board of Visitors; sits on the Northern Virginia Fire and Rescue Leadership Development Institute Advisory Board; and is a commissioner with the Commission of Fire Accreditation International.  He is a retired U.S. Marine with 20 years of active and reserve service, including two combat tours.

Jeff G. Fackler
DuPont Personal Protection at DuPont

Since 2012, Jeff Fackler is the North America Business Development Director for DuPont Personal Protection. In his role, Jeff is responsible for managing the distribution portion of the thermal industrial apparel channel, and sales for the fire service apparel channel. Jeff also serves as the Challenger Sales Process Champion for the business driving development and implementation of insights that contribute to business and customer growth.

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Jeff joined DuPont in 1981, and has held various roles in Marketing / Business Development, Sales, Training, Site, and Strategic Planning Management, as well as being a Six Sigma Sales & Marketing Deployment Champion and Six Sigma Black Belt. From 1981 – 2006, Jeff worked in the Coatings business before moving into DuPont Personal Protection where he led the global body armor business segment, then the 1st Responder business segments in NA from 2006 – 2012.

Jeff serves on the board of directors of The Partnership for Electrical Safety and The Global Emergency Services Action.

David Halfpenny
AXIS Accident & Health

David brings 30 years of experience in the financial, insurance and reinsurance industries, the last 11 overseeing AXIS Specialty Accident and Health business.  Before joining AXIS, David was Vice President, Accident & Health for AIG, where he managed sales and underwriting staff, as well as a diverse multi-million book of accident & health business.

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David was also Assistant Vice President, Underwriting at Endurance Reinsurance Corporation of America, where he was responsible for A&H and workers’ compensation reinsurance.  Prior to that, David worked in progressive roles at CIGNA Group Insurance for more than 10 years, most recently as National Accounts disability and life underwriter with an employer group book of business exceeding $100 million.  David graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from La Salle University.  He currently resides in Sarasota Florida with his wife and children


Chief Ronald Jon Siarnicki
Executive Director

Ronald Jon Siarnicki the Foundation’s Executive Director, began his career as a firefighter with the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department in 1978 and, over 24 years, progressed through the ranks to Chief of the Department. In this position, he served as the Chief Executive Officer responsible for the fire, rescue and emergency medical services of Prince George’s County, Maryland. While with the Department, he also served on the Joint Fire and Police Pension Board for four years.

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Prior to joining the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, he served as a volunteer firefighter with the Monessen Volunteer Fire Department, Hose House #2, in western Pennsylvania. In doing so, he followed a family tradition-both his father and grandfather were volunteer firefighters.

In July 2001, he retired from the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department to take the position of Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. In this role, he has managed the day to day operations of the Foundation to include the National Memorial Services, construction of the National Memorial Park and the renovation of the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In addition, he created the catalyst for the development of the Everyone Goes Home® Program designed to reduce the number of firefighter line-of-duty deaths that occur each year in the United States.

Chief Siarnicki delivers presentations at fire and emergency conferences and meetings across the country, increasing awareness of the Foundation, the efforts of its prevention work and support for the families of the fallen. In recognition of his outstanding leadership with the Foundation’s and the fire service as a whole, he has been recognized by various groups and organizations to include: 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.

A strong proponent of higher education, he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) and served as a UMUC faculty member for the Fire Science Curriculum.

Ed Klima, CEM
Managing Director

Ed Klima has served as the Managing Director of the FRCE since its inception in 2016.  He  began his public safety career as a volunteer firefighter in Delaware in 1988 and became a career firefighter in Fairfax County, Virginia in 1997.  Unfortunately, a back injury cut his career short in Fairfax County and he entered the private sector to focus on emergency and public safety management for major special events.

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His event experience includes numerous major sporting and entertainment events, including the Philadelphia Eagles, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, NFL Pro Bowl and Super Bowl where he has been a lead coordinator in the emergency planning process for the past fifteen years.  As the Senior Director of Public Safety and Track Operations for Dover Motorsports and Dover Downs Hotel and Casino he oversaw emergency preparedness planning and operations at several motorsports facilities across the U.S. as well as a comprehensive safety and security program for a multi-faceted sporting and entertainment complex in Delaware.  In addition, he specializes in emergency preparedness and capabilities assessments and the development of comprehensive public/private partnerships in emergency preparedness and response for large scale mass gathering events.

As a public safety professional, he has nearly 30 years of experience as an emergency planner, fire fighter, hazardous material technician, EMT and fire inspector.  Mr. Klima has served as the External Affairs Director for the Congressional Fire Services Institute.  He was an original member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 610 Committee, Safety at Motorsports Venues and the NASCAR Security Council and currently serves on NFPA 1585, Standard on Contamination Control.  He has also served as Vice Chair for the IAVM Academy for Venue Safety and Security. A member of various state and local committees, Mr. Klima currently serves on the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisory Council for Delaware and continues to assist his local fire department in Newark, Delaware as Board of Director member.

Mr. Klima holds two Bachelor degrees from the University of Delaware as well as a Masters degree in Public Safety Management from Saint Joseph’s University.

His back injury led him to become an advocate for health and wellness for first responders and enjoys mountain biking, hiking and spending time at the beach with his family.

Gary L. Krichbaum
Program Manager

Gary Krichbaum is the FRCE’s Program Manager and is responsible for the coordination and resources supporting a variety of firefighter support programs related to cancer prevention, behavioral health, cardiac health and overall health and wellness.

An accomplished fire service leader with over 31 years of experience in fire, rescue, EMS and emergency services, Gary entered the fire service in 1989 as a volunteer with the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad, Inc. and retired as an Assistant Fire Chief for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department 2020. He has a been a long-time supporter of the NFFF and currently serves as the Deputy Incident Commander for Memorial Weekend held each year in Emmitsburg, MD.

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Gary has a strong background as an educator and has delivered curriculum for two local Community Colleges and the University of Maryland, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. He is also a Fire Service Team Leader for the Honduras Compassion Partners which develops and implements educational programs and courses in leadership and management, fire and EMS operations, community risk reduction and other related fields to promote professional development in fire departments throughout Honduras.

Gary serves as the current Maryland Director for the International Association of Fire Chiefs and has been a contributing member of multiple NFPA Committees. His most recent published work is “Goal Setting for Mid-Level Chief Officers,” shown on-line for Fire-Rescue Magazine, December 2020.

Gary holds a BS in Fire Science and a Master’s in Emergency & Disaster Management from American Public University. He resides in Maryland with his beautiful wife Allison, and their three amazing children Olivia, Alex, and Emily.

Lori Jacobs
Program Specialist

Lori Jacobs joined the First Responder Center for Excellence for Reducing Occupational Illness, Injuries and Deaths (FRCE) in 2019 as a Programs Specialist. Prior to joining the FRCE Lori worked at Dover Motorsports in the Public Safety Department. Lori’s father was an active member of the Gumboro Volunteer Fire Company for 32 years from 1968 to 2000. Her husband is a member of the Dover Fire Department. She resides in Camden, DE with her husband and children.

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Lori Jacobs joined the First Responder Center for Excellence for Reducing Occupational Illness, Injuries and Deaths (FRCE) in 2019 as a Programs Specialist. Prior to joining the FRCE Lori worked at Dover Motorsports in the Public Safety Department. Lori’s father was an active member of the Gumboro Volunteer Fire Company for 32 years from 1968 to 2000. Her husband is a member of the Dover Fire Department. She resides in Camden, DE with her husband and children.