Pat Barrett, champion of the Texas fire service and advocate of firefighter safety and education, died Saturday (April 3) at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston after collapsing at an event in League City on Wednesday. Barrett, 57, was Associate Director of the Emergency Services Training Institute, a division of the Texas Engineering Extension Service, which operates the world-renowned Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station. He also served as a member of the Executive Board of Directors for the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas.
Barrett was honored by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents with the prestigious Regent Fellow Service Award in 2003 for his efforts to improve fire protection in Texas and for enhancing the quality and accessibility of firefighter training. The award is the highest honor given by the A&M System Board of Regents.
“Pat Barrett was a man of highest character and purpose, a true Texan in every sense of the word,” said Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, Vice Chancellor and Dean of Texas A&M Engineering. “He committed himself to going all over the State of Texas to train firefighters, always there to help others. As so many who loved this great man know, you couldn’t ask for a better friend to have at your side. He will be greatly missed.”
Barrett’s affiliation with the Annual Texas Fire School began as a guest instructor in 1978, and he joined the Texas Engineering Extension Service full-time in 1992. His first position involved training firefighters through extension and area school classes held on weekends, allowing firefighters in small and volunteer departments to get vital, top-notch professional training in their local area without taking time away from the job.
During his tenure with TEEX, Barrett played an instrumental role in the development of the statewide urban search and rescue team, Texas Task Force 1, and was one of its original members. He also worked with the Texas Department of Public Safety to revamp the state’s disaster response system, and helped develop the State Emergency Response Team, which assists communities following a disaster. His work with the Division of Emergency Management led to his participation on a number of statewide teams, including the state Catastrophic Overhead Team and the Air Ground Support Team, responding to incidents such as the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. These teams have helped countless citizens in Texas and across the nation to recover from disaster.
“As a great Texan, Pat served this state well. He would quickly rush to defend Texas whether it be vicious wildfires or massive hurricanes,” said Chief Les Bunte, Director of TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute. “Pat had a strong sense of duty to educate firefighters throughout Texas on how to protect themselves and their communities particularly those in the rural frontier areas. He was an extremely compassionate man to all and paid special attention to the needs of the elderly and our youth. Because of his service and compassion, Pat was one of those rare persons truly respected by everyone. It has been a great honor to have known him and worked with him. He will be sorely missed. Pat Barrett was a stoic Texan in the truest sense.”
Prior to his promotion to Associate Director, Barrett managed the Municipal Firefighter Training Program and Annual Texas Fire Schools for TEEX. He was especially noted for his role in planning the future development of the Brayton Fire Training Field, considered by many to be the top firefighter training facility in the world.
He was also recruited to serve on numerous state and national boards for awarding equipment or training grant and loan programs, including training grants to rural fire departments in Texas. Barrett served on the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, where he worked to uphold and ensure standards for the fire service throughout Texas. He also worked with the National Fire Academy/U.S. Fire Administration and the Department of Homeland Security on the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Review Board.
“Pat Barrett reflected all that is great about the State of Texas,” said TEEX Director Gary Sera. “He had a heart of gold, sacrificed his time and energy to help others, and was fiercely independent. His service to the state fire community resulted in many lives saved and buildings spared. His service to the 4H community helped kids to acquire life skills and the confidence to succeed. The amount that the TEEX family will miss Pat can not be measured, but we are all very lucky that he touched our lives.”
A native of Spur, Texas, Barrett was a graduate of Sul Ross State University.
A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, April 9th at 10:00 a.m. at Central Baptist Church, located at 1991 F.M. 158, in College Station. A fire service processional will travel from the church to the Brayton Fire Training Field immediately following the memorial service. The committal service will be held on Saturday May 1st at 2:00 p.m. in Spur, Texas. Details of the committal service in Spur will be released later this week.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made to the Pat Barrett Scholarship Fund at the Texas A&M Foundation. This scholarship will benefit students of the Brayton Fire Training Field. Checks should be made payable to the Texas A&M Foundation and mailed to 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas 77840-2811.