Chester W. "Chet" Schirmer, 84, who led the engineering firm his father founded to pioneer approaches in sprinkler engineering and fire protection design, died on Feb. 19 in Pinehurst, N.C., of natural causes, says Aon Corp. The insurance giant acquired Schirmer Engineering Corp. in 2001 but maintained its brand for nearly a decade.

The firm ranked at No. 289 on ENR's list of the Top 500 Design Firms in 2011. 

Schirmer was firm president from 1964 to 1991 and chairman until 1995. "His influence on many projects in fire protection include instrumental changes on sprinkler systems and the design of life-safety systems in the Sears Tower in 1970, which significantly influenced tall-building fire-safety design," says Aon.

In 1982, Schirmer was cited by President Ronald Reagan for contributions to development of the quick-reaction sprinkler-system concept.

He served an unprecedented 24 years as chairman of the National Fire Protection Association's technical committee on automatic sprinklers, says Aon.