Family, friends and community members said goodbye to Joshua Fire Chief Wayne Baker on Thursday.
After serving as a firefighter for the past 26 years, Baker is now retired. He has been in his position for 10 years. Prior to that, he worked for the Cedar Hill Fire Department for nine years, the Alvarado Fire Department for one year and volunteered with the Keene Fire Department for six years.
He received a certificate from U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin; a U.S. flag that was flown over the Texas State Capitol and certificate from state Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne; a small firefighter statue and a wristwatch from the city of Joshua; and a card, pen and his duty helmet from fire staff.
Burns referenced Mark 10:45, “For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
“In a lot of ways, that’s what you did every day,” Burns said. “That’s what these guys do every day for us in this community, and we appreciate all of your service.”
Baker said he owed his work ethic to his former chiefs.
“To come here as chief was amazing,” he said about Joshua. “I have a great group of firefighters, great community. It’s like working for your home and your family. That’s going to be the hard part about leaving, for sure.”
North Richland Hills Deputy City Manager Paulette Hartman was Joshua’s city manager when they hired Baker and said she knew he was the right fit for the job.
“I don’t know if everybody here realizes that he was the first full-time paid chief,” Hartman said. “He set the bar pretty high for who we wanted in that position. We knew we had a fit because when we looked at his resume his name is Bruce Wayne Baker. I started calling him Batman even before we met.”
Johnson County Emergency Services District No. 1 Executive Director Tom Foster thanked Baker for his service.
“It’s an honor and a privilege,” Foster said. “I’ve known you from your fire service from your days in Keene. You’ve done a lot for us. I just want to say thank you and don’t be a stranger.”
Joshua City Manager Josh Jones thanked Baker for teaching him about bringing heart to service.
“I think we all have our technical expertise that we bring to the table,” Jones said. “Not everybody brings heart to their job. That’s what I thank you for, and I wish you luck.”
Joshua Police Chief Shaun Short said they’ve always had a good working relationship with the fire department.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with you,” Short said. “I know when we go to incidents we have different roles sometimes, but your ability and your willingness to have your guys help us out when we need help is certainly appreciated. Personally, I certainly enjoyed working with you in the few years I’ve been here. You helped me a lot, and I appreciate it.”
Baker said he owes his love of service to his father, who was in the U.S. Navy.
“I tell people all the time that I put in 23 years of service with the Navy without ever putting a uniform on with following his career,” Baker said. “I learned serving through him.”
He said he is going to work with drones to help save lives.