This prestigious award is presented annually to a member of the fire service community in appreciation of their continued, dedicated support and service to the Burn Institute.
In 1994, the Burn Institute established the Pamela R. Kelly Volunteer of the Year Award in honor of late Fire Prevention Officer Pam Kelly, who worked for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Pam was well known for her tireless volunteer efforts throughout San Diego County.
Nima Biganeh, San Diego Fire-Rescue
Nima Biganeh began his fire service career with San Diego Fire-Rescue in 2007 with a drive to help others. When he learned about the Burn Institute’s Camp Beyond the Scars in 2014, he was eager to volunteer. After his first year at camp, he fell in love with the organization, and more importantly, helping young burn survivors. He came back to camp in 2015 and 2016 as a teen counselor, and instantly became a camp favorite.
In 2016, Nima was selected to attend the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Burn Camp in Washington DC with a teen camper. This provided him the opportunity to mentor survivors from around the country and connect with fire service members who shared his same passions.
After IAFF Camp, Nima returned inspired to make an even greater impact, in particular with the young adult burn survivor population (ages 18-24). He brought an idea to the BI staff to develop a program that would teach young adults important life skills and provide them a space to connect with one another. Nima and a fellow volunteer worked tirelessly for months on creating what is called the “Young Adult Program” and launched it in 2017. It consists of quarterly meet-ups that focus on skills such as financial literacy, job training and goal setting.
Nima has built a relationship with many of the young adults acting as both a mentor and friend. In 2017, he was the Camp Beyond the Scars counselor for their age group and in 2017 and 2018 he attended the Young Adult Retreat in Georgia, which brings together survivors from around the US. The Burn Institute and burn survivor community is proud to have such a caring and dedicated volunteer in Nima Biganeh.
Fire Inspector Tom Santos (2017)
Captain Tom Piranio (2016)
Firefighter Dustin Kuhn (2015)
Chief Scott Walker (ret.) (2014)
Deputy Fire Marshall Adam Beardsley (2013)
Captain Mark Waters (2012)
Chief Robert Pfohl (2011)
Captain Patrick O’Neil (2010)
Engineer/Paramedic Jeff Chumbley (2009)
Chief Erwin Willis (ret.) (2008)
Captain Dale Stewart (ret.) (2007)
Deputy Chief Mitch Villalpando (2006)
Captain Ron Hollander (2005)
Captain Tom Ferguson (2004)
Captain Mike Nuanes (2003)
Captain Daryn Drum (2002)
Chief Roger Purdie (ret.) (2001)
Chief Dennis Van Der Maaten (ret.) (2000)
Captain Steve Ricci (1999)
Captain Arnell Garcia (1999)
Captain Doug Elliott (1998)
Fire Marshal Paul Dawson (ret.) (1997)
Captain Angelo Cappos (1996)
Captain Ed Montgomery (ret.) (1995)
Chief Bill Wright (ret.) (1994)