Hank Blackwell has had an impressive 30-year career in emergency services. He served as Deputy Fire Chief for Operations and Administration and County Fire Marshal for Santa Fe County Fire Department, New Mexico, retiring from that position in 2006. He has also served as Deputy Administrator for New Mexico Disaster Medical Assistance Team, and first Task Force Leader for New Mexico Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, responding to approximately twenty national-level catastrophic events including the Pentagon and Cerro Grande Fire. His service in these responses earned him such prestigious awards as the Medal of Valor and Medal of Honor, as well as the USA Patriot Award, for his actions and leadership.
As Deputy Chief, Mr. Blackwell also managed and administered the daily operations of a four-hundred person department, with forty fire stations covering a two thousand mile jurisdiction. Some of these functions included the Wildland Fire Protection and Response Programs, Prevention and Training, EMS and Emergency Management as well as the Hazardous Materials and WMD Programs. In his role as Chief of Wildland Programs, Mr. Blackwell served as the science advisor for a NASA satellite research program, developing new satellite technologies to aid in fire prevention, suppression and forest health. He also acted as coordinator one of the first six Firewise Communities and received national recognition for this Program and the creation and development of a collaborative forest restoration program. He also authored and implemented the first Wildland Urban Interface Code in New Mexico which was the first such participative code in the US. As a result of these and other innovative wildfire programs, Mr. Blackwell was the first recipient of the National Fire Protection Associations’ Flame Award, presented for outstanding achievement in wildfire risk mitigation.
Prior to his position with Santa Fe County Fire Department, Mr. Blackwell was the Assistant Fire Chief for Wildland, EMS and Special Operations for the Los Alamos County Fire Department.
Mr. Blackwell is currently serving as the western US representative on the NFPA Wildland Fire Management Committee, and is a member of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group tasked with the development and delivery of “Assessing the Wildland Urban Fire Risk/Home Ignition Zone” certification course. He has authored and collaborated on several NFPA publications, and was an invited participant/contributor to the National Academy of Sciences and Andrus Center Symposia regarding wildfire issues for the 21st century.
Mr. Blackwell presently provides consulting services to the National Fire Protection Association Firewise Program as a subject matter expert and lead instructor for wildland prevention and training. He has developed Community Wildfire Protection Programs and Wildfire and Forest Health Assessments. He also provides expertise and support to the Office of Defense Programs/Homeland Security Department Counterterrorism Operations Support Program where he serves as a senior subject matter expert, lead instructor and curriculum development specialist. He also consults for the US Department of Defense Joint Program Management-Guardian Program and as subject matter expert for US military installation vulnerability assessments and emergency exercise development.