FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Pete Barry, GIS specialist for the Colorado State Forest Service, has received the prestigious Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for providing leadership in the ranks of wildland firefighting. The national award, sponsored by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), recognizes individuals and groups who set the example through practice of the wildland fire leadership values and principles.

Pete Barry of the CSFS received the Paul Gleason Award for providing leadership in wildland firefighting
Pete Barry (left) with State Forester Mike Lester

Barry was recognized specifically for his leadership in the “Mentoring and Teamwork” category, due to his critical work in the development and continued support of the Colorado State University Student Firefighter Association, based within the Warner College of Natural Resources.

Although Barry has not been active on the front lines for some time, he was a wildland firefighter for decades, starting with the CSFS Boulder District in the 1970s and later serving on the Arrowhead Hotshot crew based in California.

While working for Colorado State University and the CSFS in more recent years, he helped create the Student Firefighter Association when teaching graduate-level classes and completing his own graduate work.

The group’s vision is to embody Paul Gleason’s “Student of Fire” concept and connect students studying wildfire science to career opportunities.

Providing opportunities for students of fire

“The fact that Pete completed his active fireline career so long ago, yet continues to enthusiastically live by the strong principles and values of the wildland leadership program and advocate for younger generations of firefighters, speaks volumes,” said Esther Godson, project management officer for the U.S. Forest Service National Technology & Development Program. Godson helped nominate Barry, and worked alongside him in the creation of the Student Firefighter Association.

In a lengthy nomination, Barry was recognized for securing many cooperative agreements with other agencies to provide opportunities for future professional students of fire. He also played a key role in ensuring that the Paul Gleason Wildland Firefighter Scholarship – which from 2003 to 2014 successfully enabled nine students to pursue studies within the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship – has remained fully endowed.

Barry worked with Gleason’s family to achieve long-term funding for the scholarship, actively pursuing and coordinating donors so that it would be available to future students of fire.

Firefighting safety protocol

The award’s namesake, Paul Gleason, is an enduring legend in the wildfire community. He began a four-decade wildland fire career at age 18 when he took a job on a hotshot crew in southern California. In the years that followed, he became a dedicated student and teacher of fire, and is perhaps best known for developing the firefighting safety protocol referred to as “LCES” (Lookouts, Communications, Escape routes, Safety zones), which is now taught to all wildland firefighters.

Gleason later served at Colorado State University as an adjunct Professor of Fire Science until an untimely death from cancer in 2003.

“I am so humbled to receive this award,” Barry said. “Warner College of Natural Resources has been at the forefront of understanding the science behind wildland fire for many years, largely to help ensure firefighter safety, and I am just one of many more-deserving professionals who have been a part of this.”