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Chief Bobby Halton, longtime Fire Engineering editor-in-chief, has died

“Bobby was a larger-than-life personality who dedicated his life to God, family, and the fire service,” said Eric Schlett, executive vice president of Clarion Events


Photo/Fire Engineering

By FireRescue1 Staff

TULSA, Okla. — Chief (ret.) Bobby Halton, the longtime editor-in-chief of Fire Engineering magazine and education director of the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), died suddenly on Monday night.

Eric Schlett, executive vice president, Clarion Events – Fire & Rescue, which owns Fire Engineering and FDIC, said in a statement:

We are devastated by the news of Bobby’s sudden passing. Bobby was a larger-than-life personality who dedicated his life to God, family, and the fire service. Bobby spent his life in service of others and his impact serving as VP of Education and Training for Clarion Fire & Rescue, was a source of great pride and personal responsibility. This is a major loss for the Clarion family and the fire service. In this difficult time, we offer our deepest condolences to Marcia, Dean, Ryan, Evan, and the entire Halton family.”

FireRescue1 Executive Editor Chief Marc Bashoor shared his initial reflections on the passing of a giant in the fire service community:

Chief Bobby Halton spoke his mind and was the voice for many who understood the need for safety while maintaining an aggressive learning mindset. No incident was too small nor insignificant to Bobby from a learning perspective.

I fondly recall attending FDICs, with Bobby and I competing in the 5K and walking the steps at Lucas Oil stadium to raise funds for NFFF programs and services.

While Bobby’s leadership and mentorship void will be difficult to fill, we must continue the mission. Rest in peace my friend, we’ve got it from here!”

A native New Yorker, Halton began his career in structural firefighting with the Albuquerque (N.M.) Fire Department and rose through the ranks to chief of training. According to Halton’s Fire Instructor training site, Halton was chief of operations until his retirement from Albuquerque in 2004. He then became chief of the Coppell (Texas) Fire Department, where he served until beginning his work as editor-in-chief of Fire Engineering magazine. Halton served as editor-in-chief for 18 years.

Chief Halton was a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and served on several NFPA technical committees. He also delivered extensive fire service training around the country and internationally.

Many firefighters know Halton from his impassioned speeches at FDIC, often tackling controversial topics, quoting the founding fathers, and asserting the value of fire service traditions, fireground aggressiveness, and embracing the collective brotherhood and sisterhood of the fire service.

Fire service leaders and friends of Halton’s are sharing their reactions with Fire Engineering.

  • Captain (ret.) Michael Dugan, FDNY: “Bobby was an iconic individual who left the fire service better than he found it. He believed in family, trust and loyalty and there were not many like him.”
  • Chief (Ret.) Rick Lasky, Lewisville (Texas) Fire Department: “The fire service just lost an incredible fire service mentor and leader. I just lost my big brother. He was an incredible man, father and husband. He was one of my best friends and I am so blessed that I just got to spend the weekend with him in Hawaii where my son also spent time with him. Very few people will ever have the impact on people’s lives and the fire service as Bobby did. He changed the fire service. His passion and love for the fire service was second to none. I will miss my big brother so much.”

This is a developing story.

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