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Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders: Class 2021

Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders

The mission of the National Fire Heritage Center (NFHC) is to preserve the perishable history of the fire services and fire protection disciplines. The Hall of Legends, Legacies, and Leaders (HLLL) helps fulfill that mission by providing recognition to the individuals who have made significant contributions and have distinguished themselves in the service of Fire and Emergency Services and Fire Protection disciplines and who have become known/recognized in the national and or international fire service arena.

Now in its 11th year, the 2021 HLLL inductees is the largest class with 21 outstanding individuals, the second class to include a woman, and the largest number of living inductees. The HLLL Committee determined the following individuals met all of the criteria to be inducted into the National Fire Heritage Center's Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders:

Anthony C. Apfelbeck #77

Florida

Tony was appointed as the Director of the City of Altamonte Springs, FL Building and Fire Safety Department in 2019. During Tony's thirty-five-year career, his influence has impacted the entire industry of public fire safety and building design, construction and building safety. Tony has made his mark on the development of law, codes and standards in the construction industry and the leadership and professional development of construction and fire and life safety industry professionals.

"Tony Apfelbeck has spent an entire career participating in and contributing to our public safety industry with special emphasis on the safety and survivability of the members of our communities, which we protect. Among Tony's many other contributions is his benevolence in establishing a permanent fund in support of the National Fire Heritage Center." - Treasurer, Assistant Fire Chief (Ret.) Paul Brooks

Donald P. Bliss #78

New Hampshire

From 2013 to 2019, Mr. Bliss served as Vice president for the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) International Division and Regional Field Operations in the United States and Canada. The NFPA, an international association with more than 60,000 members in 120 countries, is located in Quincy, MA.

"This is a fitting recognition for Don as he has devoted his entire career to fire and life safety. NFPA is fortunate to have benefited from his fire and emergency service expertise, passion and sense of humor in every area of our organization as he served on technical committees, our board of directors, the standards council and finished his career as a valued member of the senior staff." - Jim Pauley, NFPA President and CEO

Ricky N. Brockman #79

Maryland

Member of the Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services Working Group since 2003, providing corporate knowledge and subject matter expertise to the last two revisions of Department of Defense Instruction 6055.06 and Department of Defense Instruction 6055.06-M.  2019 Developed, codified (CNIC Instruction 11320.3) and implemented the inaugural U.S. Navy Firefighter Fitness and Wellness Program in close coordination with the International Association of Fire Fighters.

"While being interviewed a few years ago, I was asked what I thought would be the major accomplishment of my career. It took me a couple of minutes of thought and I replied, mentoring young people to become successful fire service contributors and leaders. I can point with pride to several individuals I mentored who served with distinction in leadership positions at the Metropolitan Washington Airports fire department and the United States Navy fire and emergency services. Eighteen years ago, I recruited Naval Base Ventura County's Fire Chief Rick Brockman to serve as Assistant Program Director on my staff at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. I didn't really know Rick, but he had a good track record with the Navy fire service, having served in several venues, including tours in Europe. Rick had a distinguished fire service career with the United States Air Force that began with graduating from tech school at Chanute AFB with honors. His learning didn't end at Chanute and continued throughout his career. Rick earned an MBA degree in Finance from National University MBA and a Master's in Executive Fire Service Leadership from Grand Canyon University. I cannot claim to have "mentored Rick Brockman", but I know he is a team player and a dedicated professional. Rick was recuperating from surgery in 2003 and everyone in the Navy Fire and Emergency services office was on travel or leave. The threat of a hurricane was imminent, and the Washington Navy Yard was in the path of the storm and flooding was highly likely. I called Rick at home from the Philadelphia Navy Yard and asked him if he could go into the office and move the computers and files to a safe place. Rick, his wife Kim and daughters Liz and Sarah went into the office on Saturday and placed all of the computers on desks and relocated files. The storm hit, and the floodwaters were over a foot deep. Monday morning, the Navy's fire and emergency services program office was in service while other Navy offices were out of commission. Rick's contributions made a difference in the delivery of fire and emergency services and his leadership is recognized as an inductee in the National Fire Heritage Center's Hall of Legends, Legacies, and Leaders." - Immediate Past President, Fire Chief (Ret.) Bill Killen, CFO, FIFireE

"As I think of Ricky Brockman, he's been a stalwart in the Fire Service. Through the years, I've learned a lot of lessons from him. His contributions influenced the Navy Fire & Emergency Services and the Department of Defense as a whole. Ricky's advocacy for professional development has helped me become who I am today." - Director, Dr. Carey D. Waddell, Ed.D, MS, CFO, FM, CTO, MIFireE 

"Remember what it was like when you were a firefighter and be the Chief you wanted to work for." - Ricky Brockman

David Casey #80

Florida

Managing Partner and co-owner of a consulting firm providing promotional testing and training to municipalities and fire service organizations. Developed/produced seven training videos for Fire Engineering. He served as Director, Louisiana State University Fire & Emergency Training Institute.

Dr. Burton Clark #81

Maryland

Dr. Burton A. Clark, EFO has been in the fire service for 50 years working in urban, suburban, and rural communities. He protected the President in the White House and neighbors in their farmhouses. He taught stop, drop, and roll to kindergarteners and doctoral researcher to firefighters. He has championed fire service safety, professionalism, research, and home fire safety; his contributions have influenced firefighters internationally.

Burt began his fire service journey in 1970 with the Kentland Volunteer FD Co 33 in Landover, Maryland. He was a career firefighter in Washington DC from 1972 to 1980 when he joined the faculty of the National Fire Academy retiring as the Management Science Chair in 2014. His contributions include creating the EFO Applied Research Project which produced a significant body of fire service scientific research, developing the Firefighter Mayday doctrine and creating the Fire Service Seat Belt Pledge Campaign. He served as Assistance Chief in Laurel, Maryland and as an Operations Chief for FEMA on 50 national emergences and disasters. He serves as a technical expert reviewer for the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention program and at various universities as a doctoral research advisor. Burt is married to Carolyn Smith-Clark they have six children, 14 grandchildren and 3.5 great grandchildren.

"Dr. Burton Clark has made significant contributions throughout his entire career most notably through his advocacy of smoke alarms, the development of a National Fire Service Seat Belt Pledge, creation of the Executive Fire Officer Program and educating well over 10,000 students at the National Fire Academy. When I asked him in an interview, what was the most significant? Dr. Clark said, "All of the things I have done are the results of my calling to the fire service. From day one to the present, the fire service has helped give meaning and joy in my life." - Director/PIO Christopher Baker

"Dr. Clark is dedicated to the advancement of the fire service profession. He has shared innumerable data-driven perspectives on recurring themes in the fire service. He has an unparalleled passion for educating, guiding and mentoring the next generation of firefighters and leaders. Thank you for fifty continuous years of service to our great profession!" - Dr. Lindsay Judah, CTO

"Burton Clark's passion for life safety was focused on both firefighters and the citizens they were sworn to protect, including seatbelt usage for firefighters and smoke alarms installations in structures. Burt's efforts to educate the fire service on firefighter deaths caused by the lack of seatbelts being worn in emergency and personal vehicles, coupled with the National Fire Service Seatbelt Pledge, saved countless lives over the last 15 years." – Peter Matthews, Editor-in-Chief/Conference Director, Firehouse

"Dr. Burt Clark exemplifies the meaning of a fire service professional, he leads by example, strongly encourages others to succeed and assist them along their journey. Dr. Clark's passion for excellence and commitment to fire service learning is unparallel." – Dr. Ron Wakeham

Jim Crawford #82

Washington

Jim began his fire service career as a volunteer firefighter in 1975 in Clackamas County, Oregon, and was hired on in 1976. Jim devoted most of his career to prevention efforts, serving first as a public education officer, and finally as Chief Fire Marshal in Portland, OR and then Vancouver, WA where he ended his active fire service career to help found and manage the Vision 20/20 Project. During his career, Jim served as a consultant to the U.S. Fire Administration, adjunct faculty for the National Fire Academy, Past Board Member and President of the International Fire Marshal's Association, a member of the Standards Council for NFPA and a founding member and first Chair of the Professional Qualification Standard for Fire Marshals at NFPA. Jim is a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers, a life member of the IAFC, and a recipient of the R. Wayne Powell Excellence in Fire Prevention Award; the Fire Protection Person of the Year in 2011 from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers; the Dr. Anne W. Phillips Leadership in Fire Safety Education award from the International Fire Service Training Association and the Congressional Fire Services Institute; and the Percy Bugby Award from the International Fire Marshal's Association. He is an author of several books and articles on fire prevention and community risk reduction topics.

"Jim's leadership and vision solidified our industry's sustainability and provided us a means to blaze our own path toward community outcomes. His legacy is measured by the impacts the fire service and is remembered for his kind heart and true character." - Joe Powers, Deputy Chief – Community Risk Reduction, Charlottesville Fire Department (VA)

I. David Daniels #83

Georgia

The hallmark of I. David Daniels' legacy as a fire and emergency services leader has been his steadfast commitment to health and safety. This focus began early in his career as a member of the Seattle Fire Department and continued as Fire Chief in Fulton County, Georgia, through his final fire service position as Chief Safety Officer/Deputy Fire Chief in the City of Richmond, Virginia. Nationally, Daniels is a life member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where he was Safety Committee Chair, founding Chair of the Safety, Health and Survival Section and the first-ever Safety representative on the IAFC Board of Directors. He was also the founding chair of the IAFC's Bullying, Harassment and Violence Prevention Task Group. Daniels's efforts to improve health and safety have continued at a national level in his post-fire service career as a member of the Delegates Committee of the National Safety Council (NSC), founding chair of the NSC's Government and Public-Sector Division, and a past member of the NSC Board of Directors. He is also an affiliate of the Workplace Bullying Institute and a member of the International Association of Safety Professionals.

"To inspire others who come after you, a path has to be blazed. Chief David Daniels is one of those individuals who have blazed a higher education trail and diversity in the Fire Service. In my book, he has cemented footsteps for me and others to follow." - Director, Dr. Carey D. Waddell, Ed.D, MS, CFO, FM, CTO, MIFireE

"Dave has been self-motivated since his start as a firefighter to learn by study and work with mentors and in turn became the trainer and encourager to impact the careers of many others. As Chief of fire departments and a leader in the IAFC, he has built relationships and knowledge about ways to improve the safety of America's fire service culture." – Director, Dr. Lynn White

Larry Davis (1944 – 2008) #84

Pennsylvania

Noted author, instructor, lecturer and fire service leader. Chaired numerous professional association organizations and served on the NFPA Professional Qualifications technical Committee. He presented more than 500 Rural Firefighting Tactics and Rural Water Supply Operations seminars throughout the United States and Canada.

"Lawrence William Davis Jr. has a distinguished career dating back to 1963 with the Canonsburg Volunteer Fire department in Pennsylvania. Davis served in the United States Air force as a Fire Protection Specialists from 1966-1969. Davis served in the Industrial Fire Protection World from 1970 to 2008. Unfortunately, his distinguished career came to an abrupt end in 2008 at his death. Davis had a plethora of expertise and college certifications, including many related to fire instruction. Affiliations included the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, International Society of Fire Service Instructors, and the National Fire Protection Association Pro-Qualifications Committee. Davis was a distinguished author of Many publications and periodicals." - Vice President, Fire Chief (Ret.) Billy Shelton

Dr. Paul O. Davis #85

Maryland

Paul O. Davis, Ph.D., FACSM, has a 50-year career in the creation, consulting and delivery of public safety services. As an EMT, paramedic, firefighter, instructor-Lieutenant, trainer, researcher, author, presenter and creator he has consulted or appeared as an expert witness, representing such organizations as the NYPD, FDNY, FBI, DEA, DHS, ICE, DOJ, EEOC, OSHA, Senate Armed Service Committee and the House Committee on Aging as well as hundreds of local jurisdictions and governments. Known internationally for his Firefighter Combat Challenge® on ESPN, he is the executive producer for over 30 televised properties on Discovery, CBS Sports, Versus and OLN. One of the first FEMA grants was to his research group at the Sports Medicine Center of the University of Maryland's School of Public Health in a cooperative study with the Nation's Capital's Council of Governments. This ground-breaking study quantified the human energy costs and oxygen-lactate kinetics of structural fire suppression.


"Paul Davis has spent a lifetime supporting the health and fitness of first responders and the military. His original research of occupational fitness for firefighters at the University of Maryland lead to the Firefighter Combat Challenge. This program showcases firefighter fitness and demonstrates the physical challenges that firefighters face to the general public." – Executive Director, Sam Goldwater

"Dr. Paul Davis is the creative genius of the Firefighter Combat Challenge now in its 30th year; the gold standard for physical fitness and strength for the international fire service." – Ben May

M. H. Estepp #86

Maryland

Chief Estepp has had a varied professional career marked with accomplishment at every level. His career began at a young age as a volunteer firefighter in Prince George's County in the early 1960's. He was hired as a fire inspector in 1965 for the Prince George's County Fire Marshal's Office and quickly rose to Captain's rank. The Prince George's County Fire Department began in 1966 as a county career fire department and Jim Estepp quickly rose through the ranks to Deputy Fire Chief of Operations and in 1977 was appointed as the Fire Chief of Prince George's County. 

"Jim Estepp hails from the long line of distinguished fire service leaders from Prince George's County, Maryland. From his start as a volunteer firefighter in the early 1960's, his contributions in the field of public safety on the local, state, and national level have been remarkable. His service to his community as well as the State of Maryland and the nation are certainly worthy of this honor." - Secretary Stuart Nathan

Michael Hildebrand #87

Maryland

Michael was recognized as one of the "plank holders" and leaders within the North American hazardous materials (HM) emergency training and response communities. As a responder, educator, author, and advocate, he has truly been a "change agent" within the HM emergency response community. His professional contributions have had a significant influence on current HM training and response doctrine and standards. Among his contributions are active participation in the NFPA voluntary consensus standards process for over 30+ years. His "Propane Emergencies" and "Pipeline Emergencies" textbooks are the basis for national training curriculum and "Hazardous Materials: Managing State Training Agencies have adopted the Incident" textbook as the basis for Hazardous Materials Technician and HM Incident Commander certifications.

Dr. Carl G. Holmes (1927 - 2017) #88

Oklahoma

Carl Holmes is a legend whose name, especially in my generation of fire service personnel, is exceptionally well known. His legacy, developed over his entire lifetime, has affected our profession and our culture. His legacy is a personal attitude and insurmountable work ethic along with a body of knowledge and systems to improve the life of African-Americans in the fire service, non-blacks whose perception of people of color and gender were forever changed, and an institute to continue his legacy for future generations of fire service officers.

"All that I am, I owe. I live eternally in the red." - Dr. Carl G. Holmes

"Thank you National Fire Heritage Center for recognizing the significant contributions that Dr. Carl Holmes has made on the fire service with his induction into the "Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders" class of 2021. Chief Holmes was a visionary and was fueled by a higher purpose. By embracing his calling and focusing on his vision which included ensuring that minority firefighters had equal opportunity for professional development and career advancement, Chief Holmes went on to create his most indelible mark on the American fire service, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI), which began in 1991 at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. The mission of EDI is to develop the management skills and leadership potential of African American firefighters, preparing them for attainment of higher ranks. This was to augment their own personal higher education and structured to be specific to the subjects of fire department budgets, community-based fire and EMS programs, media relations, and fire personnel management. EDI has proven to be one of the most successful programs of its kind with hundreds of graduates now serving as Officers, Chief Officers, and Fire Chiefs. Since its inception close to 30 years ago, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute has served more than 2,500 participants from across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Chief Holmes' impact in the fire service is beyond measurable, which is a testament to those who have attended EDI or participated in his training courses and lectures. Chief Holmes made an impact on thousands of people in the fire service industry by teaching real-world applications in the development of future fire service leaders. He was passionate about issues related to equitable hiring practices, promotions, training, operations and the day-to-day needs of the community by their fire department." - Reginald D. Freeman, MS, FIFireE, CFO, Fire Chief – Emergency Management Director, City of Hartford (CT)

"While researching Chief Carl Holmes, an overwhelming sense of pride came over me. His career is a testament that others regardless of race can be promoted through the ranks within the Fire Service." – Director, Dr. Carey D. Waddell, Ed.D, MS, CFO, FM, CTO, MIFireE

"Carl G. Holmes was one of the first twelve (12) African Americans appointed to the Oklahoma City fire department in 1951. Holmes rose through the ranks, overcoming the hostility in the newly integrated firehouses and gained the respect of peers and officers. In 1978, Holmes was promoted to Assistant Chief, the highest rank attained at the time by an African American on that department. After retiring from Oklahoma City in 1981, he founded the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute for Fire Management Training as an alternative to the National Fire Academy and an annual conference at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was best known for mentoring thousands of African American firefighters in leadership training from 1981 to 2017. At the 2016 Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) Dinner in Washington, DC, he was awarded the CFSI/Motorola Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award for his groundbreaking fire service career and leadership. Holmes passed away at age 90 on November 24, 2017." – Director Mike Wieder

"All I am I owe, I live eternally in the RED" Spend a week at The Dr. Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI) and this phrase is forged in your spirit. To all who take on the noble profession of firefighting, you automatically make a difference. How much of a difference is measured by how many others you impact because of your service. Dr. Holmes lived a life, eternally in the RED. He was a motivator, innovator, and educator who blazed trails for firefighters. He empowered minority firefighters through education to let their light shine. This investment created generational leaders who have become trailblazers in their own right. The trail blazed by Carl Holmes still illuminates today which lights the pathway of excellence to all who see the light." - Fire Captain Larry Conley, St. Louis Fire Department (MO)

Rhoda Mae Kerr #89

Florida

Prior to joining the City of Fort Lauderdale, Kerr spent almost 10 years as Fire Chief of the City of Austin, Texas, managing one of the nation's 20 largest fire departments, with nearly 1,200 sworn personnel, 113 civilian personnel, and 47 fire stations. From 2004-2009, she served as Fire Chief of Little Rock, Arkansas. A fourth-generation firefighter, Kerr began her career in the fire service in 1983 with the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr is a respected pioneer. She paved the way for other women in the fire service to take their place at the table and have a voice. Congratulations, Chief, on a well deserved award! - Dr. Candice McDonald, CVVFA 2nd Vice President, Women in Fire Trustee

"I remember meeting Rhoda Mae in Austin at the Fire Rescue International conference. I was an Assistant Chief aspiring to become a Fire Chief one day. It was such an honor to not only see Rhoda Mae as a Chief of a very large department, but also the President of the IAFC. She was blazing the trail for women across the globe. Rhoda Mae was seemly a very busy lady with all those responsibilities, but took the time to chat with me about how it was at the top and what aspired her to climb the ladder. Additionally, I loved her 1920's inspired class A uniform and had to know where she was able to find such a beautifully designed dress uniform. It wasn't long after that when I applied for the IAFC Fire Executive Development Institute Program (FESDI) and hoped to be chosen as one of the next students. I was able to achieve that goal, and become a Fire Chief. I credit her for being one of the people who inspired me to reach for my dreams to become a Fire Chief. Rhoda Mae is an inspiration to all women who hope to lead a department and possibly the IAFC one day. I am so excited to see her be placed into the hall of legends, legacies and leaders. Congratulations Rhoda Mae Kerr, it is an honor to know you and thank you for all you have done for women across the globe." - Fire Chief Joanne R. Rund, Baltimore County Fire Department (MD)

"Rhoda Mae Kerr was sworn in as the City of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Chief on July 2, 2018. With the appointment, Kerr became the City's first female Fire Chief in the department's 106-year history. She provides leadership and vision to the almost 500 professional firefighters, ocean rescue lifeguards, and administrative personnel, and directs day-to-day operations for the fully accredited department that responds to more than 54,000 calls annually. Her focus is, "we are more than our mission. She created a culture of accountability and responsibility and encourage organizational ownership in the department's future by prior to joining the City of Fort Lauderdale, Kerr spent almost ten years as Fire Chief of the City of Austin, Texas, managing one of the nation's 20 largest fire departments, with nearly 1,200 sworn personnel, 113 civilian personnel, and 47 fire stations. From 2004-2009, she served as Fire Chief of Little Rock, Arkansas, where she was instrumental in implementing a bond program to renovate the City's fire stations, upgrading communication equipment, and completing a Fire Training Academy. Chief Kerr has been a pioneer and trailblazer in the fire profession for decades. In 2015, she was the first woman elected President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) in the organization's 142-year history. She served as President of the Metropolitan "Metro" Fire Chiefs Association from 2016 - 2017 and is a former President of the National Society of Executive Fire Officers (NSEFO).In December 2016, Chief Kerr was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, where she along with academic, public, and private sector experts, advised the sitting President on matters regarding the security of critical infrastructure and related information systems." – Director, Dr. Lynn White

John Leahy #90

Florida

Chief Leahy's career started as a firefighter in Pittsburgh and took him to every corner of the United States (as well as offshore) to teach and lecture. In thinking about his leadership capabilities, I think about a group of firefighters gathering after an incident, listening, and absorbing every word spoken by John, with the understanding they were under the grasp of a true leader.

"When you have been in the fire service as long as I have, you meet a lot of people with a broad range of expertise and knowledge. Yet there is always someone who stands out above the crowd and usually is someone who started at the bottom and worked his way through the trenches like Chief John R. Leahy Jr. John reminds me of the colonial era fire mark featuring four clasped hands from the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire, Philadelphia, PA. Circa 1752. It didn't matter if you were a five bugle chief or a rookie; John always offered a helping hand with a smile on his face. Examples of John's helping hand included the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Ambassador to the Pacific Rim to exchange information on fire safety and training, the VCOS Symposium in the Sun and a laundry list of roles and contributions to the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. Tapped to serve as Pittsburgh's Fire Chief in 1985, he initiated a rebuilding program that included improved training and modernization of Pittsburgh's fire apparatus fleet. In addition to serving in the Pittsburgh FD, John served as Fire Chief of the Pinellas Suncoast and the Seminole Fire Departments in Florida. John has traveled this country from Maine to New Mexico and Florida to Alaska and back teaching and lecturing on fire and rescue matters, as well as representing the National Sprinkler Association promoting the use of residential and commercial sprinklers. It is an honor to add my name to the long list of those who received a helping hand from John Leahy." - Immediate Past President, Fire Chief (Ret.) Bill Killen, CFO, FIFireE

Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877 - 1963) #91

Ohio

Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. the seventh of eleven children born in Paris, Kentucky, was an African American inventor, community leader and businessman. His most notable inventions were the first modern gas mask (smoke hood) notably, used in a 1916 tunnel construction disaster rescue and the first automatic three-way traffic signal system, which he eventually sold to General Electric.

Don Oliver #92

North Carolina

Don has Fifty years' experience in municipal fire suppression and prevention, thirty-nine years of administration and management experience. He began his career as a firefighter with the Wichita (KS) Fire Department in March 1967. Served as a firefighter, fire apparatus driver, District Chief's Aide and Rescue Squad member. Hired in Thornton, Colorado Fire Department (1973-1992) ranks held; Firefighter, Firefighter Specialist/Engineer, Fire Lieutenant, Training Officer, Assistant Fire Chief and retired as Chief of the Department. Served as Chief of the Wilson Fire/Rescue Service (NC) from March 1992 until September 2017, completing over 50½ years of continuous career fire service.

"Don has served in the fire services of several states, the majority of which were in Chief Officer positions. He has served his industry and professional organizations on a national and international level, most notably in the development and application of technology, and also in his voluntary service to the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy." – Treasurer, Assistant Chief (Ret.) Paul Brooks

Ernst R. Piercy #93

Colorado

Chief Ernst Piercy had a distinguished career in the fire service, including 36 years of active service. He served as a regional fire chief in San Diego; the fire chief at the Air Force Academy; and in a variety of additional fire service positions. Chief Piercy has served on numerous national and international committees and taskforces and continues to do so well after his retirement from active service. Since his retirement in 2013, he has continued to contribute to the body of knowledge through an extensive portfolio of speaking engagements, leadership facilitation, workshop instruction and publication of fire service articles. Chief Piercy is a graduate of Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard University, has completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy, and is a Chief Fire Officer Designate from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. 

"Truly a legend, not only in the Air Force Fire and Emergency Services but in the International Fire Service Community as a whole. Chief Piercy's impact on and dedication to this fine profession and support of its evolution over the years has positively changed and will continue to influence us all and generations to follow. Thank you for your leadership and mentorship over the years!" - Chief Todd Canale, Fire Emergency Service (FES) Flight for the 355th Civil Engineer Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona

"I first met Ernst Piercy during a Department of Defense Working Group meeting at the United States Air Force Academy, where he served as the Deputy Fire Chief. Ernst was a key player in hosting the meeting of the Department of Defense Fire Program managers. During 18 years, Ernst advanced through the ranks serving as station chief, fire prevention inspector, assistant chief for training, assistant chief for operations, and deputy chief. Ernst served as the Air Force Academy's Fire Chief from 2003 to 2013. In 2012 he was awarded the Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service Award for the performance of assigned duties in an exemplary manner and the Air Force Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his leadership and skill during the Waldo Canyon Fire. Ernst received the Air Force Association Outstanding Air Force Civilian of the Year in 2012. He served as Regional Fire Chief, Navy Region Southwest, one of the largest regions in the U.S. Navy, spanning 42 locations, 500+ firefighters, at seven separate installations in a 6-State area." - Immediate Past President, Fire Chief (Ret.) Bill Killen, CFO, FIFireE

"Chief Piercy is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program and a graduate, Senior Executives in State and Local Government, Harvard University. Piercy represented the Department of Defense on the Commission on Fire Accreditation International for nine years and served as Chairman. Chief Piercy served on the team that developed the first Department of Defense Fire & Emergency Services Strategic Plan. Chief Piercy is a guest lecturer at the Air Force Institute of Technology and several community colleges." - Immediate Past President, Fire Chief (Ret.) Bill Killen, CFO, FIFireE 

Charles Rule (1936 - 2003) #94

California

Charlie Rule was one of those professional influencers whose name may slip from contemporary memories but whose influence and legacy has impacted everyone in or served by the fire and emergency services. He was an educated fire chief before it became popular. He took up issues long before they became trendy. Charlie Rule fit the definitions for thought leader and influencer long before those terms became commonplace in our contemporary dialogue.

"Charlie Rule is most likely unknown or forgotten to many in today's generation of emergency responders, but all of us, young and old, have been impacted positively by Chief Rule's leadership and contributions. Although considered non-traditional and yes, even brash, Charlie was always willing to wade into issues by taking action personally and by implementing groundbreaking policies to improve health and wellness, diversity, and cultural change. He might best be "unknown" for his role in developing the international accreditation program currently administered by the Center for Public Safety Excellence." – Treasurer, Assistant Chief (Ret.) Paul Brooks

Bruce Varner #95

Arizona

Chief Varner began his fire service career with the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department in 1967, promoting to Deputy Chief in 1985. He has professional Fire Service experience through all ranks to the position of Fire Chief, experience as a Program Manager, Instructor, Lecturer, member, and Chair of NFPA fire service standards committees. Named Fire Chief Magazine "Career Fire Chief of Year" – 2001. Received Chief Fire Officer Accreditation 2003, renewed 2007 and 2010. Retired from Santa Rosa Fire Department December 30, 2010. Post retirement includes instructor and consulting work, Principal at BHVarner & Associates. Previously served as an advisor to UCLA PHASER Team (a DHS S&T project) and continued involvement in the NFPA committee process. In March 2009 team member for a study of fire services in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. In December 2011, received Blue Card Incident Commander and Instructor certification. Awarded Fellow grade membership in the Institution of Fire Engineers January 2012, and Companion Fellow by IFE Board of Directors in March 2016. In 2014 appointed to and participated in the National Academies of Science Panel on Review of the Engineering Laboratory at the NIST. FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) Master Instructor "Traffic Incident Management" Train the Trainer Program. Pro Board certified as Fire Department Incident Safety Officer and Fire Department Health Safety Officer. Principal organizer of IFE Asia-Pacific Forum 2016, San Diego. Currently IFE-USA Branch Board Advisor, Elected to IFE International Board Member and Trustee in 2017 and IFE International President for 2019 -2020.

"Chief Varner is the International President of The Institution of Fire Engineers, he serves as their business manager for the IFE-USA branch and is a Companion Fellow CFFireE. Chief Varner is a member of the National Fire Protection Association Technical Correlating Committee on Fire Service Protective Clothing and Equipment and the Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment for Fire and Emergency Services. He is a Life Member of the NFPA and has been involved in the Protective Clothing and Equipment project since 1985. In addition, he remains an active member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs: Safety, Health and Survival Section. Chief Varner served as Chief of Department with the Carrollton (Texas) Fire Department for 12 years and in 2001 was selected as the Career Fire Chief of the Year by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Prior to that, he served for 25 years with the Phoenix Fire Department progressing through the ranks, promoting to Deputy Chief in 1985 and finished his fire service career as the Fire Chief of the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Fire Department, where he retired in 2010. Chief Varner is the ultimate professional within the fire, rescue, and emergency medical services both here in the United States and around the world. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities within the agencies he served and has maintain a steady commitment to the advancement of the safety and wellbeing of the international fire service community. For the entire time that I have known Chief Varner, he has always been a contributor to the fire service through his vision, compassion, and dedication. He has strived for the advancement of our industry and worked tirelessly to reduce firefighter injuries and deaths through training, education, research, professional qualifications, equipment standards and safety leadership." -Director, Fire Chief (Ret.) Ron Siarnicki

"Chief ( Ret.) Bruce Varner is definitely deserving of his induction into the National Fire Heritage Center's Hall of Legends. Bruce was the "power behind the curtain" for NFPA's Fire Command Seminar Series that was hosted by the late Chief Alan Brunacini. Bruce's technical expertise has been used in the NFPA Standards development process to improve firefighter PPE performance and safety for more than 30 years. Bruce has served more than 30 years in the fire service in a number of roles in the Phoenix Fire department, and as Fire Chief in Carrollton, Texas and Santa Rosa, California. More recently, Bruce has gained international recognition and respect for his involvement and leadership in the Institution of Fire Engineers, headquartered in the United Kingdom, where he will shortly complete serving as IFE International President." – Fire Chief (Ret.) Bill Peterson, Plano Fire-Rescue (TX)

"The passion and effort put forth by Fire Chief Bruce Varner on improving the health, safety and well-being of firefighters across the Free World, is insurmountable in the modern Fire Service. Chief Varner is, and continues to be, both a mentor and friend for over four decades; what an excellent inductee for the National Fire Heritage Center." - Division Chief Mark Nugent, Midway Fire Rescue (SC)

"Congratulations to my Best Friend and Mentor, Fire Chief Bruce H. Varner on the occasion of being inducted into the Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders, Class of 2021 by the National Fire Heritage Center. This is a well-deserved honor for one of the hardest working members in Fire Service over the past forty-five years! Chief Varner as always represented the best in our business in everything that he does. I know that Chief Alan Brunacini is looking down and smiling as one of his favorites is bestowed with such a wonderful national recognition award. Thank you to the Selection Committee for making an incredible choice! I look forward to attending this ceremony." - Love you, Big Brother, Dennis "The Rube" Rubin

Charles Werner #96

Virginia

Chief Charles Werner is a 46-year public safety veteran, serving 41 years in the fire service, 37 years at the Charlottesville VA Fire Department, the last ten years as fire chief. Throughout his career, Charles has been in leadership roles at the local, state and national levels in the areas of technology, communications, interoperability, information sharing, GIS, broadband, IoT, FirstNet and presently drones. Charles served as chair of the DHS SAFECOM Executive Committee, National Information Sharing Consortium, the Virginia SIEC, the DHS-White House Incident Management Information Sharing Committee, the IAFC Technology Council, the IAFC Radio Interference Committee and President of the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association. Chief Werner also served on the FirstNet Advisory Board, the NPSTC Governing Board, the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, the DHS Homeland Security Information Network among others. Chief Werner has received 4 Governors Awards for Fire Service Excellence, National Career Fire Chief of the Year 2008, inducted into the Firehouse Hall of Fame in 2018 and selected as Homeland Security Today Magazine's Person of the Year 2018. Charles presently serves as the director of DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Alliance nonprofit which just received (2020) the AUVSI International Public Safety Award.

Warren Whitley #97

North Carolina

Warren retired as an Assistant Chief after 32 years of service with the Prince William County (VA) Department of Fire & Rescue. He has been pursuing knowledge about fire behavior internationally since the late 90s and has been assisting with the Kill the Flashover project since it started in 2011, conducting real-time fire tests with actual home furnishings fuel packages, exploring the effects of limiting air, using enhanced water and thermal imaging and thermal data to understand the how tactics influence fire behavior and extinguishment. He is currently a member of the Southport (NC) Fire Department; continues to share knowledge and experience through teaching and writing articles, and serves on the Board of Directors of Kill the Flashover.

"Warren Whitley had a distinguished career with the Prince William County, Virginia Department of Fire and Rescue from 1981 to 2012. Whitley rose through the ranks from Firefighter to Assistant Fire Chief. After retirement, Whitley became the Lieutenant of Training for the Southport Fire Department in Southport, North Carolina. Whitley currently serves in that position. Whitley has two master's degrees and is one of the most renowned Heavy and Tactical Rescue Specialists in Virginia's Commonwealth. A noted author and expert on fire behavior and flashover management with several publications to his credit. Affiliations include the Institution of Fire Engineers, International Association of Firefighters, and National Fire Protection Association." - Vice President/COO, Fire Chief (Ret.) Billy Shelton

"Chief Warren Whitley is an inspirational example for the fire service. His level of knowledge, understanding, and experience is phenomenal. He has led the way in the subjects of fire behavior, tactical air management, and fire suppression in his previous fire department and for Kill the Flashover. I am thankful for his friendship, mentorship, and his many contributions to improving firefighters overall understanding of the fire environment." - Battalion Chief Andrew Starnes 

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  • The National Fire Heritage Center
  • Physical Address: 17701 Creamery Road, Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727
    Mailing Address: P.O. Drawer 76, Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727
  • Phone: (916) 667-1313