A Fire Service Legend Passes On PDF Print E-mail

Many individuals have influenced Missouri’s Fire Service throughout the years.  One such fire service legend passed on October 13 after a battle with cancer.  Tom Behrendsen, 70, of Liberty died at North Kansas City Hospital.

Tom began his fire service career as a volunteer fire fighter and then as fire fighter in Liberty.  After the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office was formed in 1973, State Fire Marshal Bob Morrison asked Tom to become one of the first five investigators in the state.  Tom was also one of the founders of the Professional Fire and Fraud Investigators Association and a recipient of the Harry Hansen Memorial Award for achievement in fire investigation.

As a young fire fighter, I first met Tom in 1975 during the investigation of a house fire west of Sedalia and then had the honor to work side-by-side with him after joining the Fire Marshal's Office.  Tom was truly an "investigator's investigator" and one of the most thorough and knowledgeable fire investigators I have ever met. After leaving the Fire Marshal’s Office, Tom worked as an investigator for Kansas Gas Services and then as director of fire investigations for Clarence M. Kelley and Associates Inc.

Whether from a childhood illness or high blood pressure, his kidneys started failing about 24 years ago. After just two days, his body rejected his first kidney transplant, but the second one took. He remained grateful the rest of his life.

Tom always had a passion to help others.  He volunteered for years at Camp Chimer, which serves children undergoing peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis or who have had a renal transplant and with the National Kidney Foundation.  He also served as board member of the “Dream Factory of Greater Kansas City.”   In this role, he traveled throughout the state o help grant dreams to critically and chronically ill children from the ages of three through 18. 
By far, Tom was always a true gentleman and honorable man.
I am honored to have known Tom and called him my friend.  Our world is a little emptier without him.

Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Staff, 1976

Tom Behrendsen, third from left Tom Behrendsen

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2011 12:50