FDIC 2013 General Session: Glenn Corbett Awarded Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor Glenn Corbett, an associate professor of fire science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a technical editor of Fire Engineering magazine for 20 years, has been designated as the recipient of the 2013 FDIC Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, presented at this morning’s Opening Session, was presented by Fire Engineering Editor in Chief and FDIC Education Director Robert Halton and Eileen Brennan Cress, the daughter of Tom Brennan, in whose memory the award is named. Tom Brennan was Fire Engineering‘s editor in chief for eight years and a technical editor for 17 years. He had more than 35 years of fire service experience, including more than 20 years with the Fire Department of New York and five years as chief of the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department.

“This Lifetime Achievement Award is overdue and at the same time it is but a placeholder in the career of this fire service giant,” Halton said in his presentation remarks. “Glenn has been a tireless warrior. His passion doesn’t end in today’s controversies. He is a keeper of our traditions and history; he is a world-class instructor and a true friend. He has been a mentor to all of us and a confidante, a teacher, and a role model to me personally,” continued Halton. “He has made great contributions to our profession.”

Among Corbett’s many accomplishments and contributions to the fire service and related areas are the following:

  • He is a former assistant chief of the Waldwick (NJ) Fire Department, where he has volunteered since 1986, serving in virtually every rank.
  • He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Texas
  • He testified before the 9/11 Commission and recently served on the Federal Advisory Committee of the National Construction Safety Team that investigated the World Trade Center disaster and pushed, through congressional testimony, for an investigation of the 9/11 WTC disaster and the creation of the National Construction Safety Team Act, which ultimately led to improvements in our nation’s regulatory codes and response procedures.
  • He is the chief technical advisor to the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, and also served as the president of the New Jersey Society of Fire Service Instructors.
  • He has dedicated a large part of his career to code enforcement. He was a fire protection consultant for the Austin (TX) Fire Department and was the administrator of engineering services for the San Antonio (TX) Fire Department. He is a member of the New Jersey State Fire Code Council.
  • He is a co-author of the legendary Francis L. Brannigan’s Building Construction for the Fire Service, 4th Edition and the editor of Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II. His avid interest in firefighting and history are evident in his works The Great Paterson Fire of 1902 and Historic Fires of New York City (coauthor).
  • A member of the board of two affiliated research centers, the Academy of Critical Incident Analysis and the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies.
  • He has been a member of the Fire Engineering advisory board since 1990 and a member of the FDIC advisory board since 1997.

Professor Corbett has a master of engineering degree in fire protection engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is pursuing a Ph.D. in public administration from Rutgers University.


Fire service luminaries have lauded Corbett’s achievements and involvements in expressing their congratulations on his receiving this award.

Deputy Chief (Ret.) Vinnie Dunn, Fire Department of New York:

Glen Corbett is the spokesperson for all the firefighters in New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut. An expert statesman, Glen speaks out on behalf of all tri-state fire departments, even when fire chiefs cannot, or will not. He understands the complex issues of fire protection and translates them clearly for news reporters of television, radio, and the press.

He was the sole voice of wounded families after the World Trade Center terrorist attack. He guided friends and families of 9-11 victims through a maze of media to help get their cries for help heard. He has been an unsung hero of the fire service for the past quarter of a century.

2012 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

Chief (Ret.) Jack Murphy, Leonia (NJ) Fire Department and 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient:

Glenn Corbett is a walking ‘fire service encyclopedia’ on the many facets of this job. Whether it is about fire protection systems, codes, fireground tactics, or the history of the fire service, he will provide you with an answer that is concise not only on the subject matter but also on its historical perspective.

He is the fire service advocate when no one else is willing speak up on tough issues facing our job. When given a project, he adheres to a simple motto,

‘Don’t just do the job; do the job well, so the job will speak of you.’

Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder, Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department

When I heard that Glenn was selected for the FDIC Lifetime Achievement Award, I thought to myself, well duh, who better? Absolutely no one! There is no aspect of the fire service that Glenn has not had a positive impact on–and few can claim that achievement. Of course, Glenn himself wouldn’t claim that, as he is one of the most unassuming firefighters I have ever met.

Even if you don’t know Glenn personally, he has impacted you. Glenn is the example of ‘low key leadership’–he knows how to make a measurable difference that is always about the issue he is focused on and the people impacted–never ever about Glenn.

Glenn is an expert, and that is not only interesting, but it matters in the projects he gets involved with under the theory that ‘we have to know where we have been to determine where we are going.’ An example of that is the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Southgate, Kentucky. Glenn played a leadership role in determining what really happened at this fire–decades later. How lucky we are to have him among our ranks, passionately leading, teaching, and protecting us for all these years!”

Captain Bill Gustin, Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue Department:

Glenn Corbett is a brilliant fire protection engineer who is responsible in large part for keeping Fire Engineering true to its name. As its technical editor, Glenn keeps the word ‘engineering’ in Fire Engineering with his extraordinary knowledge of codes, building construction, and fire protection systems. Anyone who has learned from his articles, benefited from his editing, or has been his student is a smarter firefighter today because of him.

George H. Heflich Sr., president, New Jersey State Firemen’s Association:

Glenn is a bundle of knowledge and will stop what he is doing to assist anyone and try to solve their problem any time of day or evening. Glenn knows more about fire memorabilia than anyone. He is also a great speaker and keeps a captive audience wherever he speaks.

I don’t know of anyone who would have spent all of the time, effort, and knowledge he has put into trying to make Ground Zero a lasting memorial and bringing honor and dignity back to the first responders and the people who perished on 9/11 and their families.

Doctor Charles R. Jennings, director of the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies at John Jay College:

Glenn Corbett is a selfless scholar and activist. His numerous ongoing contributions to the fundamental texts of our field help to improve firefighting practice and keep firefighters safe. His advocacy for numerous causes–most notably to document and learn from 9/11 in New York–has made enduring contributions to the safety of firefighters and of the public.

Lieutenant Michael Ciampo, Fire Department of New York:

Since our days together at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to working on the Fire Engineering Firefighter 1 and II textbook, Glenn has always amazed me with his knowledge and insight into the field of firefighting.

Thanks, Glenn, for sharing your passion and knowledge with us and making the fire service stronger through all of your works. But most of all, my sincere gratitude for shaping my career and giving me the opportunity to work alongside you as a brother and a friend. You truly deserve to receive this award and

to be recognized along with the legend for whom it’s named and for those legends who have received this award in the past.

Lieutenant Frank Ricci, New Haven (CT) Fire Department

Glenn Corbett is a towering man, not just in stature. His body of work will serve as a lasting legacy for the ages. He has been the man behind the curtain as one of the technical editors for Fire Engineering. With a strike of the pen, he has been responsible for improving and building others’ works. This is what Tommy Brennan was all about, building others.

Glenn has demonstrated the political courage to stand out front on issues of our time ranging from his work on the 9/11 Commission and properly honoring our fallen at the 9/11Memorial.

Sally Regenhard, The Skyscraper Safety Campaign and 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters:

As chief technical advisor to The Skyscraper Safety Campaign and the 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters, Glenn Corbett has been the guiding force behind most of the authentic 9/11 Family advocacy accomplishments of the past decade. His academic skill, research prowess, and personal dedication have made an invaluable contribution to the National Institute of Standards and Technology federal investigation of the WTC collapse, The 9/11 Commission, the reform of the NYC Building Code, and the successful release of the NYC 9/11 tapes and transmissions by the New York State Court of Appeals.

His devotion to the fire service and the families of the victims of 9/11 is legend. We can never adequately thank him for what he has done for us.

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