Chief Chris Barron was presented the 2012 John M. Buckman lll Leadership Award at the recent VCOS Symposium in the Sun. Chief Barron has been a member of the fire service for over 22 years, serving as the Fire Chief of the Manchaca Fire/Rescue Department for the past 12 years. During his tenure as chief, he led the organization from an all volunteer based agency to a combination agency and was instrumental in improving his department's service delivery from an ISO PPC Class 7/9 to an ISO rating of PPC Class 3, resulting in a significant drop in homeowners insurance premiums.
Chief Barron has been a champion for the volunteer firefighters his entire fire service career, not only in Texas but across the country. He actively advocates for the volunteers through his career job as the Executive Director of the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association, by his service as a member of the Rural Fire Advisory Council, the First Responder Advisory Council and the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TEXFIRS).
Chief Barron helped develop the statewide Mutual Aid Legislation Plan, he assisted in obtaining an additional $15 million for H.B. 2604 which provides grants for equipment and training for rural volunteer departments; he worked to resolve issues which arose over the Texas State "Black Hydrant Program;" he helped write tuition exemption legislation for firefighters; and he has organized and run a successful Fire Service Legislative Day at the Texas State Capitol every July for the past several years. For all those efforts, Chief Barron was recognized in 2011 with a State of Texas House Resolution for service and dedication to the fire service of Texas.
One of Chief Barron's greatest accomplishments, however, was the formation of the Wildfire Relief PPE Program in 2011 which brought in over $800,000 in donations to the State Fireman's and Fire Marshal's Association for the Texas fire service, who were fighting the most terrible series of wildfires in their history. The donated funds supplied much-needed gear and equipment to rural volunteer fire departments in Texas. Those departments represent 30,000 firefighters from 1,400 volunteer fire departments, 77% of the state's fire service. His efforts provided enormous financial relief to the firefighters, 86% of whom had been using their own personal funds to meet the day-to-day equipment and supply needs of their department, as they battled over 30,000 wildfires that year.
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