Donald P. Bliss is a subject-matter expert providing support for the project teams at Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI), a municipal management consulting firm based in Plymouth, NH. He retired in July 2019 as vice president for field operations at the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA where he oversaw NFPA’s international division and NFPA’s regional operations in the U.S. and Canada. NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international non-profit, non-government organization founded in 1896 is to eliminate deaths, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and other hazards by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission.
Prior to joining NFPA, Bliss was a senior project manager and public safety consultant with MRI, participating in numerous fire department assessments and fire chief recruitments. He also chaired various technical committees at NFPA, including the technical committee on cultural resources. He served on the NFPA board of directors, NFPA Standards Council and the Fire Protection Research Foundation board of trustees.
From 2003 to 2012, he served as the director of the NI2 Center for Infrastructure Expertise, a not-for-profit applied research group based in Portsmouth, NH dedicated to strengthening the security and resiliency of the nation’s built critical infrastructure and key resources. Bliss was responsible for managing federal and state funded projects that included the Canada-US Cargo Security Project, the CARVER2® critical infrastructure risk assessment tool, the SMART School Tool®, and an in-depth assessment of cross-border critical infrastructure protection and emergency response capabilities between the US and Canada.
Bliss served as the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal from 1992 until 2003, responsible for overseeing fire investigations; fire, building and electrical code enforcement; and public fire safety education efforts throughout the state. He has served as president of the New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs, the New England Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, and chair of the NH EMS Coordinating Board. In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, he took over responsibility for New Hampshire’s emergency management and homeland security efforts. He also served as homeland security advisor to both Governor Jeanne Shaheen and Governor Craig Benson.
From 1983 to 1992, Bliss served as the fire chief in Salem, New Hampshire. From 1989 to 1992, he served as both fire chief and the town’s emergency management director. From 1980 to 1983, Bliss served as the director of the University of Connecticut Fire Department and as fire marshal for the University of Connecticut System. He began his career with the Durham-UNH Fire Department in 1970, rising from call firefighter to fire marshal/deputy chief. During his time in Durham, he also volunteered as an EMT with the Durham Ambulance Corps (now known as McGregor EMS) and served in various leadership positions, including president.
Bliss has served as a subject matter expert on critical infrastructure protection with the Mobile Education Team of the Center for Homeland Defense Studies at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and was an adjunct professor in the graduate public administration program at the University of New Hampshire. He currently serves on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Advisory Council, is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute and serves on the board of directors of McGregor EMS in Durham, NH.
Bliss received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of New Hampshire in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration degree, also from the University of New Hampshire, in 1979. He has completed numerous courses at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.