James Boyer, specialized in fire prevention

June 12, 1994|By Karen Zeiler | Karen Zeiler,Contributing Writer

James L. Boyer, founder and president of a Baltimore business that provided fire protection devices for many restaurants, fast-food outlets and other organizations, died of melanoma Monday at his home in Ruxton.

Mr. Boyer, who was 48, started the company in 1970 with a $1,000 loan, working out of the basement of his grandmother's Pimlico home.

Two years later, Mr. Boyer landed a contract with Hardee's fast food chain, which led to the opening of a branch office in Rocky Mount, N.C.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the business expanded, offering more sophisticated and expensive systems to clients to safeguard computer systems, artwork and medical labs from fire damage.

Through the years, his company installed systems for the White House, National Archives, Federal Reserve Data Center, Walters Art Gallery, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

His firm supplied fire-safety systems to production facilities for The Baltimore Sun and Bethlehem Steel Corp.

"He was an unbelievable people-person who had an uncanny ability to look inside people and see what they could do," said Rickey Leonard, general manager of the Rocky Mount office who worked with Mr. Boyer for 20 years.

"It was through a lot of hard work that the company grew like it did over the past 24 years," said his wife, Pamela, who works for the firm.

BFPE International, formerly Baltimore Fire Protection and Equipment Co. Inc., employs more than 100 people at branch offices in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia and sells equipment worldwide. It provides sprinkler systems, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers as well as more expensive chemical systems.

The company also services installed equipment and performs routine inspections.

Mr. Boyer donated fire protection equipment and services to several Baltimore shelters for the homeless, including Our Daily Bread and Christopher's Place, his wife said.

Last winter, after hearing about shrinking supplies at the Maryland Food Bank, Mr. Boyer planned a fund-raiser with his employees, collecting food and clothing to donate to the charity.

Mr. Boyer was a member of the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors and the American Fire Sprinkler Association.

As education committee chairman for the Fire Suppression Systems Association, he developed a training program for fire protection companies.

Mr. Boyer was born in Richmond, Va. His parents moved the family to Baltimore a year later and settled in the Pimlico area.

He graduated from Forest Park High School in 1963 and received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Baltimore in 1968. In the early 1960s, Mr. Boyer served in the Maryland National Guard.

In addition to his wife of 21 years, the former Pamela Ann Jenkins, he is survived by a daughter, Shelley Lynn Boyer of Ruxton; a sister, Cheryl Port of Owings Mills; two brothers, George and Walter Hill, both of Owings Mills; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service was to be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Hunt's Memorial United Methodist Church, 1912 Old Court Road. Interment is private.

The family suggested memorial donations to the Friends of Dr. E. George Elias, 10418 Green Mountain Circle, Columbia, Md. 21044.

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