Ed Bent, a veteran firefighter who was a leader in establishing modern training and standards for California firefighters, died March 27 after a brief illness, friends said. He was 94.
Mr. Bent was instrumental in creating a professional model for fire service. He spent 40 years as a firefighter, starting with the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1943. He moved to Redding in 1952 and became a state fire instructor responsible for training firefighters in 13 Northern California counties.
He transferred to Sacramento and served almost two decades as superintendent of fire service training for the State Fire Marshal's Office in Sacramento. Under his leadership, California established statewide policies and programs for new firefighters, including a fire academy and certification system.
Mr. Bent wrote training texts for dealing with hazardous materials, building collapses and other safety issues. He taught classes for firefighting agencies in Western states and spoke at seminars for professional groups, including the Western Fire Chiefs Association and the National Fire Protection Association.
Following his retirement in 1983, the California Fire Chiefs Association established the Ed Bent Training Excellence Award, which is given annually to top firefighting instructors in the state.
"Ed Bent's contributions to the firefighting profession in California were of great significance at a time when the system could have failed," said Ron Coleman, a former state fire marshal. "Many people in firefighting today spend their careers under his influence."
A Sacramento resident since 1965, Mr. Bent was a longtime member and leader at Fremont Presbyterian Church. Besides serving as an elder and deacon, he led the men's ministry for five years. He partnered with St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and other congregations to grow an annual men's prayer breakfast from 50 to more than 1,000 participants.
He was a founding member of the Sacramento Area Firefighters Chaplaincy and served as board president at the time of his death. He was active in the Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.
"Firefighting and his faith were totally connected," friend Kathy Lewis said. "He was a really caring, compassionate person who always thought about others."
Edward W. Bent was born in Boston in 1917. After graduating from high school, he hitchhiked across the country to Los Angeles and taught at a Sunday school where his father was superintendent. He earned a vocational education degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1951.
He had three children with his wife, Lynn. He was predeceased by his wife and two daughters, Deanna DiNallo and Karrin Howell.
Mr. Bent was active in recent years on many national firefighter training committees. He was a board member of the Pioneer Mutual Hook and Ladder Society, a historical association.
"Ed excelled in teaching," said Bob Kiehne, a former Sacramento fire captain. "He had a gift for inspiring people."