This week at the Fire Department Safety Officers Association's annual Apparatus Symposium in Orlando, Fla., organizers and attendees alike had an industry pioneer in their thoughts.
Bob Barraclough, 70, died at his home in Plano, Texas on Jan. 21 after a period of declining health.
"If it wasn't for him, this conference wouldn't have lasted," FDSOA Executive Director Mary McCormack said. "He was always a strong advocate of this program. Bob was the key."
Twenty-three years ago, Barraclough and Al Morganelli pitched the idea of the symposium to McCormack and her husband, Ed -- who passed away in 2006 -- when the association was first established. Since then the event has grown and thrived.
"When Bob and Al first came to us to talk about starting the symposium, Ed didn't want to do it at first, but he soon gave in," she said with a smile. "This is the first year we are without (Bob) here. He's sorely missed."
Ian Laing, International Director of FDSOA and Assistant Deputy Chief of Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services in Ontario, Canada fondly remembers the long-time fixture of the fire apparatus industry.
"We just enjoyed each other's company," he said. "(Bob) knew so much and I had so much to learn," he said. "He was always willing to help."
David Durstine, vice president of marketing for equipment manufacturer Akron Brass, said he owes a lot to Barraclough.
The two first met at the annual NFPA conference in 2002 as Durstine was just starting his career.
"It was my very first show and I knew no one. Being one of the young guys, it was intimidating," he said. "(Bob) was the first person who introduced himself to me."
Barraclough was able to help open doors for Durstine, who served as the moderator for Tuesday's general session.
"He was a great mentor," he said. "He'll truly be missed in this industry. He was an icon."
Dean Mayhew, who works for the Performance Advantage Company and retired from the Fort Worth Fire Department last year, has known Barraclough since 1975.
"Bob had the greatest love for the fire industry," he said of his fellow Texan. "His great ambition was the safety of firefighters."
FDSOA Certification Coordinator Bob Finley, who is a charter member of the organization, like many, knew Barraclough well.
"Bob was very outspoken. You always know where you stood with him," he said. "He was well-liked and had friends all over."
Bill Foster, one of the co-founders of Spartan Motors, spoke with reverence of his fallen peer.
"There are very few people in this industry who have the passion of Mr. Barraclough. He'll be missed. No doubt about it."
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any contributions be made to:
Oklahoma State University Foundation
Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology Program
Bob Barraclough Memorial Fund (#20-03700)
P.O. Box 1749
Or Online at OSUgiving.com