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Volunteer Fire Chief of 2014: Chris Barron

What does it mean to you to be honored as this year's Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year?

To be honored as Fire Chief of the Year is an experience unlike any other recognition I've ever received. It's not only a very rewarding experience, but I'm also very humbled to be among some of the great leaders in the fire service who have also received this award. As a fire chief in a combination department in central Texas, I was extremely honored to have been nominated for the position and absolutely thrilled to have been selected.

What has the reaction been from your department and community?

The reaction from the community has been wonderful. It's great to receive the respect and appreciation from those in the community who don't even know me yet read about the award in the newspaper.

When was your most difficult time in the fire service and how did you overcome it?

My most difficult time has been the transition from an all-volunteer to a combination fire department. I often state in my classes that it's one of the most difficult times a department goes through and especially for the leader of the organization.

In our position, we have to make decisions all the time where we will never get a 100% approval rating, but we do what we think is best for the department and community. I have always tried to think of the community and safety of our firefighters first when making those types of decisions.

What concerns you the most about leadership in today's fire service?

The leaders of the fire service today have to be prepared for the changing dynamics and mentality of the next-generation firefighter. Learning, training and interacting with people is different now than it was when I started in the service.

Customer-service skills, respect and an appreciation for the advanced equipment we have now still need to be taught in training, since often, simple people skills are lost or forgotten about. We have to prepare our firefighters in customer service and instill in them the concept that we're there to serve and make a patient or victim's bad day better.

What one accomplishment are you most proud of?

I've had many accomplishments in my career and lifetime. Receiving awards in high school, receiving a pilot's license and having a State of Texas House Resolution in my honor have all been great accomplishments. It has all been a great satisfaction to know that I can set goals and reach them.

However, receiving the IAFC's Fire Chief of the Year award for contributions I've made to my department and community is an accomplishment I'm currently most proud of. Receiving the award at FRI and afterwards being recognized and acknowledged by my peers in the halls of Dallas was a great occasion I will never forget.

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