Wise County’s new fire marshal and emergency management coordinator is learning his way around.
Chuck Beard, a lifelong Weatherford resident, just finished his second week in the position which has been vacant since Marc Dodd quit in April 2012. The job is an appointed position with a two-year term, which started Jan. 1.
Beard, a career firefighter, is prepared to face a potentially tough fire season and the challenges of taking over a long-empty post.
Beard started his career in the fire service in 1985, when he was hired by the Parker County Fire Department – one of only two paid county departments in the state at that time. In 1989, he transferred to the Weatherford Fire Department and worked there until retiring in March 2012.
“As soon as I turned 18 , I started volunteering,” he said. “It’s what I’d always wanted to do.”
Beard said that until now he’s primarily worked in operations. He was battalion chief for the last decade, which meant he was assigned to 24-hour shifts during which he ran the day-to-day operations of the department.
But throughout that time he also assisted with investigations and inspections.
“I’ve filled in, off and on, for the last 10 years-plus,” he said. “(This position) is a new part of the fire service, and it’s kind of exciting to get back into something different, so I’m looking forward to it.”
After his retirement from Weatherford, Beard decided to pursue another lifelong dream and become a helicopter pilot. He gave it a whirl offshore in South Texas, delivering crews and parts to rig platforms in the Gulf.
Although he feels fortunate to have had the experience, he said it “wasn’t a good match,” so he set his sights back on North Texas.
“The two things I always wanted to do was be a firefighter and fly helicopters, and I’ve got to do both. It’s been a good life,” he said.
His family owns numerous businesses, “ranging from radio stations to screen printing” and when Beard returned from his South Texas gig, he worked among those before applying for the fire marshal post in Wise County.
He said he and his wife, Melinda, had actually considered moving here for several years.
“We’ve been looking up here the last six or seven years; we just never had a reason to,” he said. “Both of our kids were still in school, and the family businesses were there, so we just stayed down there. But this area has appealed to us for a long time.”
The Beards’ oldest daughter, Lauren, is in paramedic school, and their youngest, Katie, is a pre-med student at Texas Tech.
He and his wife will be moving to Wise County, and they’re currently exploring the area and familiarizing themselves with the various communities. Decatur Fire Department hosted a meet-and-greet Thursday evening to give area firefighters and department chiefs a chance to visit with him.
“You know, I grew up in Weatherford; I’m not a big-city guy,” he said. “And this seems like it fits pretty well. Everybody has been so nice.”