Stephens named 2022 Fire Chief of the Year

On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, San Marcos Fire Chief Les Stephens was honored by the Texas Fire Chiefs Association. Stephens was presented with the Fire Chief of the Year award during a ceremony at the Texas Fire Chiefs Association Annual Conference in Waco, TX.

The award recognizes Stephens’ outstanding performance within the Texas Fire Service. In making its selection, the organization reviewed nearly two dozen letters of support submitted by City staff, elected officials, and community members.

“Chief Stephens has revolutionized our fire protective services,” said Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp. “From the moment that he arrived in San Marcos, Chief Stephens set a higher standard for service, training, community involvement, transparency, and professionalism not only within the fire department but throughout the City of San Marcos.”

Stephens was named San Marcos Fire Chief in 2009. Since then, the department has improved training, increased diversity, expanded fire prevention programs, and modernized fire stations and equipment to serve the city’s growing population.

Stephens has overseen the department through several disasters, including the May 2015 flood and Winter Storm Uri, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the deadly fire at the Iconic Village Apartments in 2018.

Several letters of support submitted to the Texas Fire Chiefs Association referenced Stephens’ strong leadership and the compassion he offered to the victims of the fire and their families.

“From the beginning to today, he has remained a resource to all of them and a friend to many of them,” said former San Marcos Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner. “He treated the parents and loved ones of the victims how he would want to be treated. He treated them with support, compassion, strength, and advocacy. To this day, the unsolved case is still one of his professional and personal priorities.”

Stephens began his career in 1988 as a Firefighter/Paramedic with the River Oaks Volunteer Fire Department. He joined the Garland Fire Department in 1991 and held several positions before he was selected as Chief of the San Marcos Fire Department in 2009.

He holds several degrees and certifications, including a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences and Certified Public Manager credentials from Texas State University, and the Chief Fire Officer designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Stephens is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Hays County Fire Chiefs Association, and previously served as president of the Texas Fire Chiefs Association.

The Texas Fire Chiefs Association strives to be the liaison between the Texas Fire Service leadership and the legislative members of the State of Texas, attempting to further strengthen and logically apply proposed and current regulations which actively enhance the safety of the citizens of the State of Texas while protecting the career and volunteer firefighters throughout the State.

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