After serving in the U.S. Navy as a Damage Control Officer, Chet joined Schirmer Engineering Corporation in 1952 as a Consulting Engineer, with responsibilities for fire protection system design and analysis, and conducting property risk control surveys. Chet was promoted to Vice President of the firm during the period 1957 to 1964, and then managed the firm as President during the period from 1964 to 1991, overseeing the firm's worldwide fire protection/loss control engineering services. He served as Chairman of the Board until 1995. Chet was a Registered Professional Engineer in five states and a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. His influence on many projects in fire protection include instrumental changes on sprinkler systems and the design of the life safety systems in the Sears Tower in 1970, which significantly influenced tall building fire safety design. In 1982, Chet received a Presidential Commendation from Ronald Reagan for his contributions to the development of the quick response sprinkler system concept.
Chief among his many accomplishments was Chet’s service and dedication to the goals of the National Fire Protection Association’s fire/safety codes and standards process. He served an unprecedented 24 years as the Chairman of the NFPA Technical Committee on Automatic Sprinklers (NFPA 13) from 1974 to 1997. His service also included membership on the NFPA Board of Directors from 1974 until 1986, including tenure as Chairman of the Board for two years. Chet was the recipient of the NFPA Standards Medal (1992) and the Paul Lamb Award
, the highest award that NFPA bestows (2003).
In retirement, Chet dedicated his efforts in promoting fire safety by furthering the installation of automatic sprinklers systems in the residential home environment. He proactively engaged in the design, installation and promotion of residential sprinkler systems for Habitat for Humanity homes. In 2007, the NFPA dedicated the Automatic Sprinkler Systems Handbook
to Chet Schirmer noting that Chet’s expertise, knowledge and services were an integral part of NFPA 13 and were fundamental to the long-term success and performance of automatic fire sprinkler systems.
The Schirmer family has asked that memorial donations be made in Chet Schirmer’s name to:
Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills
2268 NC 5 Hwy
Aberdeen, NC 28315