AFSA members and staff were saddened to learn of the passing of Jan Gratton, a dedicated fire safety educator from Covina, California, who was instrumental in the widespread acceptance of smoke detectors and residential fire sprinklers. AFSA honored her as its 2004 Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year, in recognition of four decades of leadership in life safety education.
Jan Gratton began volunteering with the Covina Fire Department in the 1960s to help educate the public about a new life saving technology, the smoke detector. She designed the first “Smoke Detectors for the Elderly and Handicapped” project, which became a model for the nation. Within a few years, her own home became the first residential fire sprinkler retrofit in the area, and she used it to provide programs to educate other communities about sprinklers.
Gratton served on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Board of Directors and made history as NFPA’s first female national officer. When the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) was formed in 1996, she represented NFPA’s Board of Directors on the HFSC steering committee. Gratton also served on several Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) fire prevention and public education teams, as well as the US Fire Administration “Solutions 2000” and “Beyond Solutions 2000” initiatives to improve fire safety. In 2014, the National Fire Heritage Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland, created a display honoring Jan Gratton’s achievements.
As Ron Coleman noted in his AHJ Perspective column in the July 2015 issue of Sprinkler Age, “In spite of every obstacle that was put in her way, [Jan Gratton] relentlessly pursued the development of public education programs and materials to address fire safety within the public education system.”
Jan Gratton was preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, Rich, and is survived by two children and their spouses, five grandchildren and their spouses, and nine great-grandchildren, as well as a sister, a brother, and many colleagues and friends who recognize the long-lasting impact she had on fire safety.