After serving as a firefighter for the past 26 years, Joshua Fire Chief Wayne Baker will soon retire.
Baker has been in his position for 10 years. Before 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.
“I grew up a Navy brat, so service and community was instilled in me by my parents growing up,” he said. “I always thought I was going to go into the [U.S.] Navy. Instead, I started out as a police explorer in California. I then moved back to Texas to go to college and started volunteering in Keene and never looked back.”
During his tenure as chief, he said they’ve accomplished many things for the department, including opening the new fire station and purchasing a new fire engine and safety equipment for the firefighters.
“The whole community has been wonderful and supportive of me and the department,” he said. “You hear ‘work family” thrown out there all the time, but we actually are a work family.
“All of the public safety and government officials in this county have been amazing over the last 26 years. I can’t imagine a better place to have a career than in this county. The support of the citizens has made it worth it.”
Joshua Assistant City Manager Mike Peacock said Baker has always been achievement oriented.
“Some of the things he brought to Joshua are standardized training for volunteers, recruitment and retention program, updates to the Emergency Operations Plan, completion of a new fire station [and] upgrades to equipment and accountability to the department,” Peacock said. “There have been upgrades to policies and procedures, hiring of a city fire marshal and upgrades to the city fire codes. There really is not an area of the fire department he has not affected.”
The biggest impact made by Baker that reached outside of Joshua is his work on the drone, or unmanned aircraft systems, Peacock said.
“Chief Baker has been traveling the country training other fire and police departments how to use the new technology in today’s operations,” he said.
Future plans for Baker include continuing helping make people safer, he said.
“I can’t say who I’m going to work for yet, but I will continue my passion for keeping people safe,” he said.
There are possible plans to name Fire Marshal Joey Kratky as the interim fire chief, Peacock said.
“The city manager and I will be discussing whether or not we will make any changes to the requirements for the chief position and looking to see if there are any other opportunities to better the department,” Peacock said.
They are looking at the beginning of the new year before having a new chief in place, he said.
The department will host a retirement party for Baker from 2-4 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Joshua Fire Station, 770 N. Main St.