It is with deep sadness that the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation announces that Chairman Emeritus, Hal Bruno, died last evening, Tuesday, November 8, 2011. He was 83.
For more than 60 years, Hal Bruno served as an active member of the fire service community, giving selflessly as a dedicated volunteer firefighter, advocate, commentator and leader. He is renowned for his commitment to fire safety initiatives and his compassion for the members of the fire service and their families.
Bruno was appointed chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in 1999, a distinction he held until his retirement in 2008. Under Hal’s leadership the NFFF expanded services and resources for the survivors, including workshops, conferences and scholarships. He guided and supported the Foundation in developing safety initiatives for firefighters and advancing safety practices that will help to reduce the number of line of duty deaths and injuries.
On Capitol Hill and at the White House, Bruno was admired and respected for his integrity and ability to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to address important issues impacting our nation’s firefighters and rescue personnel. He was a staunch advocate for passing the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act which provides federal death benefits to the families of firefighters who die in the line of duty from heart attack or stroke.
A native of Chicago, Bruno enjoyed an illustrious 60-year career in journalism, retiring in 1999 from ABC News where he was Political Director and host of the weekly talk show, Hal Bruno’s Washington. He frequently appeared on debate panels and served as moderator of the vice-presidential debate in, among others, the 1992 campaign. He covered every national election since 1960, most recently as the senior political analyst for Politics.com and as a guest commentator on CNN and other television programs.
He was one of the first journalists on the scene of the tragic Our Lady of the Angels elementary school fire in Chicago on December 1, 1958 in which 92 students and 3 nuns died. His report that the fire spread so quickly because of the open stairwell lead to significant changes in fire safety and building standards and codes.
Mr. Bruno received numerous awards and recognition from the fire service for his dedication and commitment. In October of 2011 he was awarded the National Fire & Emergency Services Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders Award. The Congressional Fire Services Institute’s Board of Directors selected him as the recipient of the 2008 CFSI / Motorola Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award and in 1999 he received the “President’s Award” from the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He was named “Fire Service Person of the Year” by the Congressional Fire Services Institute in 1995 and in 2009 he received the Fire Buff of the Year Award from the International Fire Buff Associates. He is also a 2008 inductee of the Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame.
Bruno was a reporter, Chicago Bureau Chief, News Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for Newsweek magazine where he covered such matters as the civil rights movement, the 1968 Democratic National Convention and Watergate. He got his start at the DeKalb (Ill.) Daily Chronicle, moved to the City News Bureau of Chicago – where he covered the fire and police beat – and was also with the Chicago American newspaper. Bruno was a war correspondent who covered the 1956 Suez crisis, the Cuban revolution and the Chinese-Indian war. He was a graduate of the University of Illinois, served as an Army intelligence officer during the Korean War and was a Fulbright Scholar to India.
Hal is survived by his loving wife Meg, his sister Barbara and his sons Harold and Daniel, and their wives, Brenda and Susan and four grandchildren.