Chief Chris Barron is the 2012 winner of the John M. Buckman III Leadership Award, sponsored by Provident Insurance.
Barron has been a member of the fire and emergency service for more than 22 years, serving as the fire chief of the Manchaca Fire/Rescue Department located just outside of Austin, Texas, for the past 12 years. During his tenure as chief, he led the organization from an all-volunteer 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.
Barron has been a champion for volunteer firefighters throughout his fire service career, not only in Texas but across the country as well. He actively advocates for volunteers through his career job as the executive director of the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association and 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.
Barron helped develop the statewide Mutual Aid Legislation Plan, and he assisted in obtaining an additional $15 million for H.B. 2604, which provides grants for equipment and training for rural volunteer department. He worked to resolve issues that arose over the Texas State "Black Hydrant Program" and he helped write tuition exemption legislation for firefighters. He has also organized and run the successful Fire Service Legislative Day at the Texas State Capitol every July for the past several years.
For all these 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 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, which was fighting the most terrible series of wildfires in its 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 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.
Chief Chris Barron is a leader in every sense of the word; he's the "go-to guy" in Texas who never fails to assist or champion a cause that benefits not just the volunteers but everyone in the fire and emergency service. He's a true visionary who embodies the spirit of the John M. Buckman III Leadership Award.