Fire Prevention & Protection

Fire Safety Pioneer Bob Barr Passes Away

Robert (Bob) Barr, a fire safety pioneer and employee of the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department, passed away suddenly at the age of 77 in Scottsdale, Arizona, on January 3. Barr is survived by two daughters, several grandchildren, and extended family.

Barr was born in Lick Creek, Iowa on January 31, 1938, the son of Clarence Thompson Barr and Helen Craig Barr. He grew up in Meridian, California, and graduated from Sutter Union High School in the class of 1955. Bob worked for Pacific Telephone Co as a Lineman until he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

He served in the U.S. Army as an electronics instructor at Fort Bliss, Texas, and then took degrees, first at Yuba College and then in the Fire Science program at Oklahoma State University. He was head of the Fire and Safety Engineering Technology program at Rowan Technical Institute in Salisbury, North Carolina, from 1967 to 1971 before assuming the position of Fire Marshall in Prince William County, Virginia.

In 1974, he went to work for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Boston, where he was director of the Public Protection Division and a pioneer in fire service training.  He was instrumental in developing the National Professional Qualifications System and served as its first executive secretary and also as executive secretary of the Fire Marshall’s Association of North America.

After leaving NFPA in 1988, Bob established his own consulting firm, working as an expert witness, developing training programs for the U.S. Air Force, and employing GIS (Geographic Information System) technology to do fire station location studies.  At the age of 65 in 2003, when most people contemplate retirement, he took a job with the Phoenix Fire Department, where he remained active until his passing.

He had a lifelong dedication to the fire service. He loved his work and the people he worked with. Throughout his professional career he always remained a common man with pride and compassion for his many friends, classmates, and fellow workers.

Write-up courtesy of Bruce Varner