A familiar face at fire service conferences across the country, Bobby Halton, has passed away.
He began his fire service career with the Albuquerque, NM, Fire Department and held many ranks before he retired as chief of operations in 2004.
He was named fire chief in Coppell, TX, and worked there for a year before being named editor-in-chief of Fire Engineering Magazine. He later took on the role of education director for the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC).
He was later promoted to vice president and educational director.
He was active in many fire service organizations, including the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, UL Fire Safety Research Institute, Columbia Southern University, and served on several National Fire Protection Association technical committees.
"Through his writings and teachings, Bobby has changed the way firefighters think, train and respond to today's emergencies," said Firehouse Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews. "Bobby has helped countless firefighters create a solid foundation for their time in the fire service and prepared countless fire officers for the known and unknown challenges they will face throughout their career."
"This one hurts," said Firefighter Cancer Support Network Director Bryan Frieders. "Bobby Halton was not only a fire legend, but he was the biggest supporter of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. More importantly, he was my good friend - and I will miss him terribly. Thank you Bobby Halton for always being there."
Billy Goldfeder, Firehouse's Close Calls columnist and author of several Fire Engineering Books under Halton remembered him, saying: "Bobby represented every firefighter. Small town, big town - he didn’t care - his passion ran through every rank and type of service, so when he spoke to communities, elected officials and those who needed to hear about what 'we' do, Bobby had our backs. Each and every time. He was also a close personal friend to so many of us who have fought cancer, getting us through a battle he knew all too well. I’m still trying to process this loss because, after all his own medical battles, the ones that Bobby won every single time - I just didn’t think he was ever going anywhere…but now God needs him more. Thank you so much for everything Bobby. Everything. Love you Brother."
"Bobby was certainly committed to the fire service, and he wanted firefighters to be the best operationally. There will be a hole to fill..." said Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Longtime fire service veteran Steve Austin said of Halton: "Training and safety were paramount to him. He also was a strong believer in brotherhood and sisterhood of the fire service."
Austin said Halton was a trooper who kept going and wouldn't let anything sideline him. "Even as he battled his own medical challenges, he never missed a beat. He was there when you needed him..."
National Volunteer Fire Council Deputy CEO Dr. Candice McDonald remembered him fondly. "All of us at the NVFC are deeply saddened by this incredible loss. Chief Bobby Halton was a trail blazer, a passionate advocate and spokesperson for the fire service and a true friend of the NVFC."
McDonald, who also is president of Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association, also lauded him for his activity on other fronts. "His support of volunteers has had an incredible impact, as has his work to advance and promote women in the fire service. It is now up to all of us to carry on his legacy."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and the entire fire service community as we process this news."Frank Leeb, Deputy Assistant Chief, FDNY, said: "Chief Bobby Halton is without question one of the most influential leaders of our generation. His transformation of FDIC and how firefighters learn and train will forever be part of his enduring legacy. A good friend of mine and the FDNY - he will be sorely missed.
Tuesday afternoon, FDNY released a Tips from Training to remember Halton. Download it here.
You can read Halton's columns and articles here.