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New fire marshal on right track

The duties of a fire marshal may vary from city to city, but when it comes to public safety, there are few officials that play a more critical role.

From making sure fire codes are enforced to determining the origins and causes of fires, fire marshals must be investigators and educators, and it takes experience and skill to do the job well.

Judging from the background of Denton’s newly appointed fire marshal, our city is in good hands.

Longtime Denton Fire Department employee Laura Behrens brings a wealth of knowledge and energy to the job, Fire Chief Ross Chadwick stated in a prepared statement, and we congratulate her on the appointment.

Behrens, the first woman to fill the role of fire marshal for the city of Denton, is stepping into the spot once held by Rick Jones, who retired from the position earlier this year.

As fire marshal, Behrens will investigate fires and conduct fire safety inspections, and her background more than qualifies her for this part of the job. She holds certifications as a fire inspector and arson investigator, and she is also a master peace officer, officials said.

Another of Behrens’ responsibilities will be to oversee the department’s public education efforts, and her experience in this area is also extensive. Since 2003, Behrens has served as the department’s administration manager, and from 1999 to 2003, she was a public education officer in the fire prevention section.

Her education duties will include sending firefighters to meet with schoolchildren and talk about safety concepts, and it also includes identifying a community issue and developing a program to address it, she said.

A marshal’s investigation, for example, isn’t just to determine the cause or criminality of a fire, but to check for unsafe practices, she told us.

“It’s important to both identify the cause and find a solution,” Behrens said.

She graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration. She previously served as a community supervision officer for Denton County and as a civilian duty officer for the Denton Police Department.

Behrens assumed her new duties Aug. 31, and city officials tell us that she is actively involved in the community and is anxious to determine how the fire department’s role in the fire prevention, education and development process can be improved with better communications and accessibility.

Sounds like she’s on the right track, and we welcome her to the job.

We’re sure she’ll do well.