Sean P. Toomey, the State Fire Marshal of New Hampshire, has been named as the recipient of the Twenty-Sixth annual New Hampshire Construction Industry Ethics Award. The award honors the “individual, business or organization that, through words and deeds, best demonstrates a commitment to upholding the highest ethical standards in construction.” Sean will be presented with this recognition at the Annual Plan NH Awards Evening scheduled to take place on Wednesday June 22, 2022, at the Hotel Concord in Concord, NH.
Sean grew up in Manchester, NH, and is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire where he earned a degree in Civil Engineering in 1998. In 2001, he earned his MS in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Following his graduation from UNH, Sean began employment with SFC Engineering Partnership, Inc., where he worked as a consulting engineer for the next seven years prior to joining the Concord Fire Department as the Assistant Life Safety Officer in 2005. Sean served the Concord Fire Department for 13 years and progressed to the rank of Deputy Fire Chief. In 2018, he became the Deputy State Fire Marshal, and in June of 2021 he was confirmed by the Governor and Executive Council to serve as the State Fire Marshal for New Hampshire. His resume is lengthy with many interactions year in and year out with contractors throughout the state. Today, he resides in Warner, NH, with his wife and two boys.
Sean receives many accolades across all industries, the overwhelming of which are rooted in the same underlying principle about his character. Jeffrey Murphy, PE, Vice President of SFC Engineering, sums it up succinctly. “One of the most impressive things about Sean is that he is the same person regardless of the situation,” Jeffrey says. “All too often, people slant their personality or messaging based on the person they are talking with or the organization they are representing. That is not Sean.” He continues, “Sean is the role model that others want to emulate.” Sean’s work with SFC Engineering was often rooted in fire protection/safety code compliance which can be challenging, as those recommendations can be costly to implement at any phase of building construction. Jeffrey adds, “Very often this news is difficult for… [building owners] to receive, and they naturally look for opportunities to avoid the costs. In all my dealings with Sean, I have never seen him skirt around an issue or recommend a path that was not morally right and ethically sound regardless of the pressure from a client or building owner.”
The University of New Hampshire is a familiar stomping ground for Sean as, even postgraduation, his career takes him back to the campus with regularity. “With approximately 35 residence halls on campus, as well as numerous academic and administrative buildings, the safety of our students, faculty and staff, as well as visitors to campus, is of the utmost importance,” highlights David Emanuel, PE, MPA, Durham Fire Department’s Fire Chief. As it can be imagined, Durham’s Fire Department is continually working with the school and the State Fire Marshal’s office, and when it comes to safety, no corners or costs can be cut. “Marshal Toomey attends critical project meetings with UNH Facilities Design and Construction, the Durham Fire Department, and contractors to ensure that planning, design, and construction are aligned with State and local code expectations. He has been directly involved and an excellent partner in providing valuable input which adds value at the front end of the project, ultimately paying dividends during construction by avoiding costly changes for oversight or omissions,” says David. No small undertaking at a school with more than 15,000 students enrolled. Further, David comments, “We have found Sean to be a tremendous resource for our department and he has shown himself to be a person of high integrity and dedication with a level of technical skill to match. I cannot think of another individual with the qualifications, experience, and influence to impact the construction industry in the State of New Hampshire as Sean Toomey.”
Ethics is defined more by actions than words, but if one wanted a formal definition, Merriam-Webster offers this: Ethics is a set of moral principles, a theory or system of moral values. More simply stated by Jonathan Halle, Managing Member of Warrenstreet Architects, Inc. of Concord, NH, Sean is exemplary of ethics by always, “saying what he means and meaning what he says.” When managing the expectations of the numerous parties on a construction project, this can be an arduous endeavor. Jonathan continues, “With every position that Mr. Twomey has held, he showed the moral principles that governed the decisions he made, the interactions, and the concern he had for the individuals and community he served.” A constant theme in praise of Sean is that his approach has never wavered regardless of who he worked for, or what title he has held. This mentality continues today as the State Fire Marshal. “Mr. Toomey is known amongst his peers as a gentleman. Self-confident, mature, direct, honest, and of the highest integrity,” Jonathan exclaims, concluding by saying about Sean that, “…without reservation, I believe he is deserving and is a great example of the highest standards defined by this award.”
The words of support from Sean’s peers are ample, including from his predecessor. “Marshal Toomey is undoubtedly one of the most ethical, value-driven people I’ve ever met in my personal or
professional life,” touts Paul Parisi, former NH State of NH Fire Marshal (2018-2021). Sean is “open, transparent, and fosters a team environment within his organization. I have had the opportunity to supervise Sean, to work side-by-side with him, and to receive his recommendations for variances from the State Fire Code.” Paul continues, “I have never had any shred of doubt or question in my mind that Sean would execute his duties and responsibilities in a principled manner.” Even the most ethical individuals find themselves in tough situations at the center of unwanted attention, to which Paul comments on, “In fact, unfortunately I have witnessed a couple of instances where Sean was accused of being unfair, or in one case deceptive. While the situations were ultimately resolved, it bothered him terribly (to the point of being physically sick) that someone would even think he would lie or be anything other than honorable.” Paul’s conclusion about Sean is unwavering in its support, which echoes everyone’s sentiment towards him. “Sean embodies the values of the FMO [Fire Marshal’s Office] to the highest degree, which are Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, and Consistency. And while some use those words as a slogan, Fire Marshal Toomey uses them as a way of life.”
In addition to a commemorative plaque, the award carries with it a $1,000 donation to the recipient’s charity of choice. Sean has chosen to split the donation by giving to two organizations; the
Plan NH Scholarship Fund (of which Sean is a prior recipient), and the New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs Scholarship Fund.
The New Hampshire Construction Industry Ethics Award was established and is underwritten by David W. Wood, a former nationally recognized writer, publisher, and marketing consultant specializing in the construction industry. His newsletter, Words from Woody, won 25 awards, including being a three-time recipient of the Construction Writers Association’s prestigious T. Randolph Russell Award. In 2005, Wood was presented with the Silver Hard Hat, the organization’s highest honor. In 2018, Plan New Hampshire (Plan NH), a nonprofit organization with a mission “to foster excellence in planning, design and development of New Hampshire’s built environment,” took over the leadership and heralding of this prestigious award.
Last year’s recipient was Richard M. Piper of R.M. Piper, Inc. in Plymouth, N.H. Other previous recipients of the award include Gerry Perron, formally of Granite State Plumbing and Heating, Bob Longchamps, formerly of Longchamps Electric, Gary Betram, formerly of Hutter Construction, Dan Church, The Rowley Agency, Concord, N.H.; Frank Lemay, Milestone Engineering and Construction, Concord, N.H.; Richard Uchida of Hinckley Allen, Concord, N.H.; Dan Hazelton of Anderson Equipment Company, Manchester, N.H.; Tom Morin of Morin’s Landscaping, Hollis, N.H.; Mark Bates of Weaver Brothers Construction, Bow, N.H.; John Zahr of Harvey Construction, Bedford, N.H.; Bruss Construction, Inc., Bradford, N.H.; Paul Morin of Tarkka Homes, Weare, N.H.; Ron Severino of Severino Trucking Company, Candia, N.H.; Tom Palazzi of The Palazzi Corporation, Hooksett, N.H.; Rich Lambert of Pro Con, Inc., Hooksett, N.H.; Leighton A. White of Leighton A. White, Inc., Milford, N.H.; Mark & Rick Charbonneau of Continental Paving, Londonderry, N.H.; Jim Morrill of Morrill Construction, North Haverhill, N.H.; Tom Avallone of Cobb Hill Construction, Concord, N.H.; Jack McDevitt Jr. of McDevitt Trucks, Manchester, N.H.; Levi Ladd of L.K. Ladd, Concord, N.H.; Samuel Audley of R.S. Audley, Inc., Bow, N.H.; William Walker of The MacMillin Company, Keene, N.H.; and Bill Clark of Clark Masonry, Milford, N.H.
Questions and additional information can be found on PlanNH.org or by contacting the Executive Director of Plan NH, Tiffany Tononi McNamara at PO Box 1105 Portsmouth, NH 03802; via phone at 603-452-PLAN, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.