Donors Make the Difference

Donors Make the Difference

DeCamara and Waller Scholarship Programs Help Fire Protection Students

The Center for Life Safety Education (CLSE), an educational affiliate of the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), is proud to sponsor two scholarship programs: the Philip L. DeCamara, Jr. Scholarship and the Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship. These programs honor dedicated industry veterans who made a difference in the fire sprinkler industry by offering scholarships named in their honor to students studying for a fire protection engineering career.

Philip L. DeCamara, Jr. Scholarship – University of Maryland (UMD)

The DeCamara Scholarship celebrated 31 years of giving in 2015, and has awarded over $115,000 in scholarships. Established by the AFSA Board of Directors in 1984, the program benefits outstanding juniors and seniors majoring in the Fire Protection Engineering curriculum at the University of Maryland in College Park, DeCamara’s alma mater. The program presents two scholarships each year.

AFSA honors DeCamara for his commitment to the fire sprinkler industry and the association. As president of DeCamara Fire Protection Products (DFPP), he became involved during AFSA’s early years. In 1983 he chaired the Budget & Finance Committee and co-chaired the then newly formed Manufacturers & Suppliers (M/S) Council. Later that year, DeCamara passed away of a heart attack, leaving behind his wife Terry and their five children. Terry is still involved with the scholarship committee today, evaluating applicants and presenting scholarship awards.

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In 2015, Irene Lemberos, a senior studying fire protection engineering with a minor in international engineering, received the first place award of $4,000. A member of the Salamander Honors Society as well as the RISE Leadership Academy, Lemberos is in the University of Maryland Honors College and has earned the University Honors Citation. She spent one semester studying abroad at the Technical University of Denmark, where she designed and created an upward flame spread test to determine the safety of materials used by NASA on spacecraft and space infrastructure. Lemberos also worked as a junior mechanical design engineer intern at the National Security Agency (NSA), where she performed 3D design work using SolidWorks CAD software.

Julie Dicus, a senior fire protection engineering major, was the second-place winner in 2015 and awarded $3,000. Dicus has been a member of the student chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) since she first enrolled at the University of Maryland, and has served as president of that organization. She volunteers her time to teach high school girls about the engineering industry, as well as welcome and mentor freshmen students that are new to the program. “I loved volunteering for these opportunities because I enjoy spreading the word about fire protection engineering,” says Dicus. “I do not ever want new students to miss their opportunity to join such a great program just because they have not heard about it…[I] know that I am helping out the department that has already done so much for me.”

Thomas S. Waller Memorial Scholarship – Oklahoma State University (OSU)

The AFSA Board of Directors voted to fund a second scholarship in 2005 after industry leader Thomas S. Waller passed away. Waller devoted more than 40 years to the fire protection industry. He served as chairman of the board of Viking Fire Protection of the Southeast in High Point, North Carolina, and also gave much of his time to AFSA. He helped form the AFSA Carolinas Chapter and served on the board of directors of the North and South Carolina state chapters. He also served on the AFSA Board of Directors from 1985-1995 and as national chairman of the board from 1989-1991. Waller believed in the value of education and was determined in his efforts to provide educational opportunities for young people, both in and outside of the industry. The Waller scholarship is presented to juniors or seniors enrolled in the Fire Protection & Safety Technology program in the College of Engineering, Architecture & Technology at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. To date, the Waller Scholarship has provided over $30,000 to OSU FPST students.

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In 2015, Jonah Lund received the $4,000 Waller scholarship. He entered his senior year at OSU with a perfect grade point average, having maintained a 4.0 throughout his first three years at OSU. A native of Prairie View, Wisconsin, Lund is a member of the Fire Protection Society and vice president of the Firefighter Combat Challenge Team. He describes himself as “passionate” and says: “… I am eager to apply my knowledge to the real world. Knowing that my actions and contributions can someday help save lives and property will always keep me motivated and interested to learn.”

Invest in the Future

Your donations help students attain their educational goals and professional dreams while positively impacting this industry. Supporting either the DeCamara Scholarship Fund, Waller Scholarship Fund or both is greatly appreciated by the winners, their families, and the DeCamara and Waller families. Remember, as CLSE is a 501(c)(3) educational affiliate of AFSA, all contributions made to these scholarship funds are tax deductible. To make a one-time donation or become a regular donor, visit CLSE online at and click on “Scholarships” or mail a check to DeCamara Scholarship OR Waller Scholarship, c/o CLSE, 12750 Merit Dr., Ste. 350, Dallas, Texas 75251. For more information or to apply, visit

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