The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) mourns the loss of one of our founders – Chief Ronny J. Coleman, State Fire Marshal, (Ret.), passed away peacefully on September 21, 2023, at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento.

“We will forever be indebted to Chief Coleman for his vision and commitment in making the fire and emergency service better,” shared Mary Cameli, CPSE Board President. “We will continue to be grateful for his leadership in paving the way forward for CPSE. He will be missed by all.”

Chief Coleman was engaged with CPSE since its inception. Beginning in the mid-1980s, he oversaw the design and implementation of the early accreditation process. When the organization, then called the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, now CPSE, was incorporated in 1996, Chief Coleman became our inaugural chair. He served in this role through 2003.

“I had the honor of getting to know Chief Coleman before my time at CPSE. He was a tireless advocate for continuous improvement and genuinely connected with everyone he met,” reflected Preet Bassi, CPSE Chief Executive Officer. “Interviewing him at his home in 2016 for the CFAI 20 Year History Video is among my fondest memories of him.”

When in 2021, CPSE celebrated our 25th Anniversary, we once again sought out Chief Coleman’s perspective as one of the Faces of CPSE for a video about formation of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. In all the moments that have been captured and in the numerous that have been missed being captured, Chief Coleman’s love for and dedication to the fire service and to the men and women that embody it shined through.

In 2010, the Commission on Professional Credentialing established the Ronny Jack Coleman Leadership Legacy Award. We designed this annual award to recognize individuals who exemplify the ability, character, and dedication to lifelong learning and display the leadership attributes embodied by Chief Coleman.

Chief Coleman was a 50-plus year veteran of the fire service. Following his service and leadership as the Fire Chief in San Clemente, California, and the Fire Chief in Fullerton, California, he was appointed as California State Fire Marshal from 1992 to 2000 by Governor Pete Wilson. Chief Coleman was the past President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and has been a member and leader of numerous fire service committees and associations. He has given us all an incredible legacy with his dedication to our training and education. He championed the California State Fire Training system both as the Division Chief and as the Chairperson of the Statewide Training and Education Advisory Committee. He has authored more than 19 books and was influential within our industry as an advisor, leader, mentor, and friend.

Chief Coleman is survived by his wife, Marie, his son Chris Coleman (North Carolina), his daughter Lisa Coleman (Colorado), and their families.