As wildfires raged across Texas in 2011, Texas A&M Forest Service Incident Response Department Head Paul Hannemann directed statewide operations, oversaw the mobilization of thousands of firefighters and managed the suppression of thousands of blazes that burned almost 3 million acres.
On Wednesday, Hannemann was recognized for his service with the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Fellow Service Award. The award is designed to recognize employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas.
As an emergency responder for more than three decades, Hannemann has done just that. During the catastrophic 2011 wildfire season, he was deployed for more than 330 days in a heroic effort to combat challenging wildfires, including six of the 10 largest blazes in state history.
”Paul is truly dedicated to public service,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Director Tom Boggus. “He has a fine-tuned ability to take Incident Command System principles and apply them to the unique features of any hazardous event. He’s the guy you want as your team captain when you’re about to make a big play.”
In addition to his career in incident management, Hannemann also is committed to teaching others his craft. He serves as an instructor for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service Municipal Fire School and helped develop two wildfire academies that Texas A&M Forest Service conducts annually.
“He has been at the forefront in innovative and strategic response policy and program development for the first responder community of Texas,” states the nomination letter submitted by Hannemann’s peers to the Board of Regents.
Hannemann has trained numerous regional incident management teams from across the country, including responders from Fire Department of New York. Partly due to Hannemann’s reputation as a leader in incident management, the New York Office of Emergency Management recently requested assistance from the Lone Star State Incident Management Team for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. With Hannemann serving as incident commander, the team deployed for a three-week assignment, returning Jan. 16.
Hannemann, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M in 1974 and a master’s degree in 1981, said he’s honored to receive the Regents Fellow Service Award.
“It’s rewarding to be recognized for doing what you love to do, but what’s really an honor is being able to serve Texas A&M and the state of Texas each day and ensure that when a life is saved, a wildfire is contained or power is restored, everyone goes home safe at the end of the day,” Hannemann said.