Robert T. Bettenhausen is the recipient of the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award. This prestigious national award, which is sponsored by Scott Health and Safety, is given annually to recognize a volunteer firefighter whose remarkable achievements in the fire service and community exemplifies outstanding performance. Bettenhausen was honored at an award ceremony on October 26, during the Fall Meeting of the NVFC’s Board of Directors.
“Thank you so much for this award. I especially want to thank my family for their support throughout the years, and I am grateful they can be here tonight,” Bettenhausen told the audience, which included his wife, three sons, grandchildren, department chief, and the mayor of Tinley Park.
Bettenhausen has a long and distinguished history in the volunteer fire service. He has been a member of the Tinley Park Fire Department (TPFD) in Illinois since 1952, holding positions including Assistant Chief and Chief, and is currently Chief Fire Marshal. His lifetime of service to his community, his state, and beyond truly exemplifies outstanding achievement.
The standards set by Chief Bettenhausen enabled TPFD to maintain its status as an all-volunteer department in a Chicago suburb that has a population of over 55,000 people. It was Chief Bettenhausen’s vision that made it possible for TPFD to secure specialized vehicles designed for volunteer firefighters and the latest gear and rescue equipment. He was instrumental in the development of a training facility that assists in the training and emergency preparedness of the department’s firefighters and serves as the cornerstone of the 3rd District Chiefs Association/MABAS 24 Training Academy, which has graduated over 1,000 firefighters.
Chief Bettenhausen’s long list of accomplishments also include the planning and oversight for the construction of four fire stations, initiating qualification for ISO ratings for the Village of Tinley Park (which is currently qualified for an ISO Rate Class 3 and is under review for a Class 2 rating), establishing a full-time Fire Prevention Bureau in Tinley Park, successfully lobbying to create Illinois laws requiring sprinkler systems in schools, and much more.
Chief Bettenhausen serves on numerous local, state, and national fire commissions and panels, and is an active member on various fire service committees as well as emergency service associations. He has authored many articles and contributed to many books and manuals for the operations of volunteer fire departments.
Bettenhausen’s lifetime of service has received far-reaching praise in his community and beyond. “His dedication to the fire service and to our community compare to none,” said Village of Tinley Park Mayor Edward J. Zabrocki. Ken Farmer of the National Emergency Training Center of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security noted that, “Chief Bettenhausen is respected by his community and is a cornerstone of Tinley Park.”
In addition to his work in the fire service, Bettenhausen was a partner in Bettenhausen Hardware Company from 1945-1992. He and his wife, Colleen, have three sons.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is the only national non-profit organization whose sole mission is to support the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. Since 1976, the NVFC has served as the voice of the volunteer on Capitol Hill and continues to provide invaluable tools, resources, programs and advocacy for first responders across the nation. Learn more at www.nvfc.org.