COLLEGE STATION – Chief Les Bunte is retiring as Director of the Emergency Services Training Institute and the Brayton Fire Training Field, which are operated by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Bunte is credited with many improvements in the training of Texas firefighters and upgrades to the fire training facility in College Station, as well as the expansion of training partnerships across the globe.
Since he joined TEEX eight years ago, Bunte has overseen a number of major improvement projects at the Brayton Fire Training Field, including new buildings and new training props as well as a wastewater treatment plant and a fire extinguisher refill facility. The most recent upgrade includes new pavement and parking lots throughout the 120-acre campus.
He has also spearheaded efforts to train more volunteer firefighters across the state and improve the curriculum and certification by the National Fire Protection Association and ProBoard. Bunte also established the Texas Fire Officer Program and the EMS Leadership Academy. He was awarded the Regents Fellow Service Award by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in 2010.
Bunte came to TEEX after a 29-year career at the Austin Fire Department where he rose to the position of Assistant Chief, but his ties to TEEX and Brayton Fire Training Field go back much further. He recalls his first trip to the Municipal Fire Training School at Brayton as an Explorer Scout in the late 1960s, and then served as a guest instructor at the annual Municipal Fire Training School for 27 years. He said it was a great honor to come back as head of the school.
He first joined the fire service as a junior firefighter with the Georgetown Fire Department, where he later served as Chief. Bunte graduated from Southwest Texas State University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas.
Of his 30 years in the municipal fire service, Bunte said, “I’ve enjoyed each and every moment of it. It’s been a great run.” He told employees of the Emergency Services Training Institute: “I hope history will show that we made a difference and left this place a little better than we found it.”
Bunte was honored at a reception at the H.D. Smith Building, one of the additions to the Brayton Fire Training Field completed under his leadership. In a memo to employees and customers, Bunte said: “I am extremely proud of all the accomplishments that we made at the Fire School over the last eight years We are truly the largest and best fire and rescue training school in the world and each of you contributed to that .My greatest honor has been to serve you as the Chief of the Fire School and to proudly serve with the men and women of ESTI and TEEX.”
Bunte said his retirement will allow him to spend more time on his business ventures in Bryan/College Station.
Bunte’s position will be filled by Interim Division Director Robert Moore while a search is conducted for Bunte’s replacement.