Robert Havens, instructor at Lamar Institute of Technology, has been named the Texas Association of Fire Educators’ 2009 Fire Instructor of the Year.

This is his second time to be honored as the instructor of the year; he also received the award in 2004. Havens has been an instructor at LIT for 11 years, teaching Fire Technology, Homeland Security and Emergency Medical Technology.

Havens developed his talent for training others when he was in the U.S. Army.

“I learned early on about personal development and development of [my] subordinates and peers,” he said.

Havens serves on the curriculum and testing committee with the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The committee is responsible for reviewing, adopting, developing and revising all training curricula for firefighters in the state.

This commitment provides him with extensive knowledge in fire training needs.

Havens says that the most difficult part of training new firefighters is to emphasize that they are a team.

“Anybody who is going into public service needs to realize that the customers are the citizens of the city where they work. It’s a much bigger job than any one person can perform,” he said.

“It’s not an easy, clean job, but it is extremely rewarding.”

A big part of training new firefighters is teaching them how to conquer their fears; it is against human nature to run into a burning building, yet that is exactly what Havens’ students must do.

“There are a lot of fears that we have to get past in order for our students to become firefighters. People are scared of fire, dark spaces, tight spaces…,” he said. “We have to be able to get our students to understand that through training, they will develop confidence in equipment and tactics.”

“Knowledge is power.”