Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

Former fire marshall who ushered in safety laws after MGM Grand Hotel fire dies

CARSON CITY - Thomas J. Huddleston, a former Nevada's state fire marshal who pushed through tough safety laws after the 1980 MGM Grand Hotel blaze in Las Vegas that claimed 87 lives, has died in Poulsbo, Wash., after a lengthy illness.

He was 69.

Huddleston served as state fire marshal from 1977 to 1987. He was one of those responsible for adopting and enforcement the first statewide fire and building code.

After the MGM fire in November 1980, the Hilton caught fire killing eight people in February 1981.

The Legislature then enacted such laws as ones requiring sprinklers in major buildings.

Huddleston started his career with the Las Vegas Fire Department and served for nine years. He ended up leading the bomb search and disposal squad.

After leaving Nevada, he served as fire marshal for Corona, Calif. until 1993. He joined the Poulsbo Fire Department, was promoted to deputy chief in 2005 and retired in 2010.

He is survived by his wife Wendy, son Shawn, daughter Jennifer Sommer and two grandchildren.

A celebration of life is planned for April 13 in Poulsbo.

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