Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson starts today. He talks goals, plans for city.

Published 12:51 am Saturday, July 17, 2021

Greg Benson’s first day as the new Port Arthur fire chief is Monday, but he’s coming in ready to put boots on the ground.

“One of the immediate (goals) is to get to know members of the department and members of the city,” Benson told Port Arthur Newsmedia Friday. “A second goal is to know members of the community.”

During a panel interview June 2, Benson stressed the need for communication inside and outside of the department. The then-Chicago resident was one of three finalists following the January retirement of longtime chief Larry Richard.

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Deputy Fire Chief Robert Havens served as acting chief in the interim.

Benson was officially hired Tuesday during a city council meeting, when City Manager Ron Burton recommended him to council members. He was approved with a unanimous vote.

The incoming official last worked in Victorville, California, where he served as fire chief and emergency management director.

Ten years prior to his appointment, the department had been dismantled and absorbed by a neighboring department. When the decision to recreate the department was made, Benson was recruited to lead it.

And recruitment was something he stressed Friday as he spoke on his new role.

“I think Port Arthur is a central point for critical infrastructure and making sure the communities’ safety needs are met but also reaching out to the community and trying to foster community members to be in the safety field,” he said, stressing the need to foster interest in future firefighters and emergency service employees.

Emergency services was also something he touched on, elaborating on a Stop The Bleed program he first spoke of during last month.

The national non-profit organization is focused on preventing unnecessary deaths by educating students, public officials and the community.

“I’d like to present that all city employees have the opportunity to participate in Stop The Bleed training,” he said. “To work with the high schools and college, and also make it available to the greater community members as well.”

According to Stop The Bleed, approximately 40 percent of trauma-related deaths are due to the consequences of bleeding. Although Benson said it doesn’t just apply to mass incidents.

“In one case a guy in Home Depot was pulling a mirror off the shelf,” he said. “It fell and broke.”

The customer suffered from a traumatic cut, but a store patron had been through Stop The Bleed training and was able to control the injury until emergency services arrived.

Benson has a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science and is currently enrolled as a candidate for Doctor of Education.

He is certified in cyber-security, homeland security, risk assessments in communities and hazardous materials.

“I looked at his qualifications as well as a long discussion I had with him, and I think it will blend well with the institution of knowledge in the department,” Burton said of his decision to hire Benson. “He has a very broad knowledge base, as well, that will help greatly and continue to nurture what we have in the department.”