After serving Mineral Wells for the last seven years, Fire Chief Mike Pool announced he will be retiring on May 1.
“It’s been an honor for me. I’m very blessed to have had this career path,” Pool said. “We’ve gone from 14 to 24 staff suppression/EMS personnel and they do a wonderful job. They take care of business and I’m going to miss them the most and then working with people at city hall.
“I’m going to miss not seeing Mineral Wells turn into the diamond that it’s going to be. It’s in the process and it’s transitioning now, and I want to see that happen even though I’m not working there. It’s going to be good.”
Pool said he can’t say enough about how hard his staff has worked over the years.
“We provide training and we have to do a lot of continuing education training, but we have eight people here with college degrees; we have 10 people that are driver-operators; there are Fire Officers I through VI, and we have five [employees] that are Fire Officer II and that’s just outstanding for a department this size,” he said. “We have three Fire Instructor IIIs, which means they’re able to run a college education program if they want to — they have that level of training.”
Mineral Wells Fire Captain Dusty Benthall said Pool is someone he talks to almost daily and considers him a mentor.
“Chief Pool is somebody that I’ve known throughout an intertwining circle of friends and fellow firefighters, but never knew personally until working with him,” Benthall said. “With our passion for old cars, we will still be getting together for shows, troubleshooting problems, borrowing tools and it will be nice having him as a sounding board throughout the rest of my career.”
Pool added that they’ve recently started a rescue program and obtained a rescue boat to which employees are already doing training for.
“They just got on board, I could go on and on, but all I did was enable them and support them — they’ve done all the work,” he said.
Mineral Wells Deputy Fire Chief and EMS Coordinator Ryan Dunn met Pool in 2010 and the two have been working together since 2013.
“Mike Pool has not only been a mentor to me, but numerous people throughout the fire service,” Dunn said. “With over 40 years in the fire service, he is leaving with a wealth of knowledge and shoes to fill that are nearly impossible.”
Dunn said when Pool first became the fire chief, the department was lacking in many areas.
“He slowly and methodically brought the department to where it is today,” he said. “He has accomplished many tasks and we couldn’t have done this without his strong leadership. We are not only losing a great leader but a father figure. I appreciate all the time, knowledge and trust that he instilled into me.”
As for those accomplishments, Pool said they’re not “his” accomplishments but the department’s and city’s as a whole.
“I was fortunate enough to be here and help facilitate them,” he said. “We’ve received different grants in excess of $1.7 million in the seven years I’ve been here. We’ve changed our ISO rating, which has to do with your insurance rate, and we went from a 5 to a 3 and it’s on a scale from 1 to 10 — 1 is the best and 10 is the worst. So we lowered that a couple of points and that was good.”
Pool’s last official day with the Mineral Wells Fire Department will be May 1 and as for what’s next on his plate, Pool said that’s a good question.
“I know what I would like to do — I’d like to do a little traveling, I want to spend some time with my grandkids and I want to go a few places, not far away — but I also know in myself that I like to stay busy,” he said. “I like projects and so I really think I’ll find something to do work-related somewhere that will help keep me busy. That’s just who I am.”
A retirement celebration for Pool will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Friday at Fire Station 2, 3701 SE Industrial Boulevard. Light refreshments will be served and the public is invited to attend.