Labbe Finds ‘Perfect Fit’ as Fire Marshal

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Most people run away from a fire — and then there’s Larry Labbe.

“I’ll hear the sirens, and my adrenaline will start to pump,” said Labbe, Georgia Tech’s fire marshal who spent years fighting fires for Cherokee County. “It’s like a knee-jerk reaction that I still want to be part of the team making a difference.”

Labbe likes to say that fire service found him. Both his uncle and grandfather were firefighters. So when Labbe was working for Kroger and had to complete volunteer hours as part of the company’s tuition reimbursement program, it seemed logical to become a volunteer firefighter, which evolved into a full-time job.

“There were times I would fight as many as three fires in one shift — I loved being able to help others,” he said. “But my mind wasn’t being challenged, and for me, that’s a huge part of career enrichment.”

After a stint in the Cherokee County Fire Marshal’s Office, Labbe applied for his current position and began work in 2010.

“This job has just been the perfect fit for me,” Labbe added. “There’s so much variety in what I do everyday; I’m constantly challenged.”

Read on to learn more about Labbe and his time at Tech.

What’s an average day like for you?       
I assist with fire safety-related planning for everything from campus events to partnerships between Atlanta Fire Rescue and campus. I also teach GT1000 and am responsible for the fire safety training offered on campus. And I’m currently pursuing a four-year executive fire officer certification program through the National Fire Academy, which I will complete in July.  

What would you like people on campus to know about your job and office?      
My office is a state-deputized fire marshal’s office, and part of the Tech community. We offer a variety of fire prevention programs, through training and collaboration. We enjoy working with all the colleges and departments on campus.

What is the greatest challenge associated with your job?
Trying to figure out the best way to share fire safety messages with different audiences. For example, the way I communicate a message to a college freshmen is very different from the way I’d share it with a 15-year
veteran researcher.   

What is the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without?  
My iPhone. I move from place to place based on what my iCal tells me to do, and I rely on the work-related apps (such as a light meter app) that I have on the phone.

Which do you prefer: Facebook, Twitter, or a world without any of it?    
Facebook. It’s been so helpful in terms of reconnecting mewith people I went to school with when I was younger.

Where is your favorite spot on campus?    
I love the Fifth Street Bridge. Tech managed to do something different with a typical hard structure like a bridge. We reclaimed it with nature.

What is the greatest risk you’ve taken?    
In all of the fires that I fought, there was only one where I felt like I was risking my life. That was the one time where the risk was probably much greater than the reward. But thankfully, we all made it out safely.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard?    
Never turn your back on a fire.

Where is your favorite place to eat lunch?    
Six Feet Under, and I order the fish tacos.

Tell us something unique about yourself.     
I was the Southern Polytechnic State University basketball team mascot for a
couple of years.



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