NFPA remembers Tom Moses, building and fire safety advocate

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Jul 22, 2015


Tom Moses surveys the construction of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, including Cinderella Castle, circa 1969. (P
hoto: Reedy Creek Improvement District)


by Robert Solomon, NFPA Division Manager for Building Fire Protection


There is a little bit of sadness at the Happiest Place on Earth today. We learned yesterday that Tom Moses passed away in his Florida home on the morning of July 21. For almost 50 years, Mr. Moses served with the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) in Florida. At the time of his death, he was on the Board of Supervisors for RCID and he was the City Manager for the City of Bay Lake.


RCID oversees the 38.5 square miles that is home to Walt Disney World. The District provides myriad services to The World ranging from plan review, design evaluation, inspection, fire and EMS support, and other services typical of any jurisdiction.


Mr. Moses came to RCID in 1969 as construction on the Magic Kingdom was getting underway. My favorite story from Mr. Moses was that he wasn’t quite sure what was in mind for the massive plots of land in central Florida that Disney had purchased. He was a healthy skeptic - and it took the convincing of none other than Roy Disney (Walt Disney’s older brother) to convince Tom to come on board and have a say in what was about to transpire. Not only did he have a voice in these discussions, he helped set the policy, culture and tone that is still a hallmark and sets a high bar for safety at WDW.


In his role with the District in those early days, Mr. Moses oversaw innovations that are a bit more main stream today. Among those ideals were the absolute importance of putting automatic sprinkler systems into every building - no matter the size. He was overseeing performance based design before we had a name for it. He was managing cutting edge modular design and construction techniques that were used at the Contemporary Resort. In short, he embraced the innovative spirit that Disney had in 1969 with a focus on safety- something that continues in 2015. 


In whatever spare time he had, Mr. Moses generously served the building community at large, being an active participant in the model code organizations and serving in several different roles for NFPA. He was on the NFPA Board of Directors from 1990 until 1997;  served on the Board of Trustees for the Fire Protection Research Foundation from 1990 to 2003; and was a member of the Correlating Committee for the NFPA Building Code from 2000 to 2015.


He was awarded the Research Foundation Medal for extraordinary contribution in 2000. He was always willing to share his ideas, discuss solutions that worked on Disney projects and provided very insightful talks about the challenges faced during the construction and ultimately the operation of the many different types of occupancies, building uses and functions that encompass RCID.


In one his first appearances at an NFPA meeting, Mr. Moses attended the NFPA Fall Conference in Cleveland in November of 1971. NFPA's Fire News described his presentation as follows


The Fall Fire Conference Luncheon is a feature all in itself, since you will hear at this luncheon about the fire protection at Disney World and the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Also to be shown during the luncheon is a color motion picture prepared by the Disney organization on the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Come and learn what can be done in fire protection when "Imagineering" is introduced!


Mr. Moses was a good friend of NFPA, an innovator of safety based solutions and an all-around class act. Those attributes live on throughout RCID. So remember, the next visit you have to WDW, Mr. Moses’ vison for safety has a hand in keeping you safe in the parks, your Disney hotel room or anywhere else you venture on Disney property-none of those things just happened on their own.