History of Fire Chiefs

2007 - James Tindell

In November of 2006, Chief Haney retired and Assistant Chief James Tindell was appointed as the interim Chief of the Bedford Fire Department. In April of 2007, City Administration appointed Chief Tindell as the newest Fire Chief of the Bedford Fire Department. Chief Tindell started with the Bedford Fire Department in 1977 as a volunteer Fire Fighter and was hired as a career Fire Fighter in 1983. During this time, he worked his way up through the ranks from Fire Fighter to Fire Chief. Chief Tindell has the respect of all of the members of our department and has earned the respect of Fire Chiefs in other Cities. We look forward to working with and for Chief Tindell in the future. Chief Tindell brings with him years of experience in both Fire and EMS and is a current registered Paramedic through the State of Texas.

During the early years of our department, we started in 1955 as a small, understaffed, under equipped department. Presently we have a listed strength of 57 career Fire Fighters covering 3 fire stations complete with support staff. Our front line equipment consists of 2 Engines, 1 Aerial, 3 fully advanced MICU's, and the Battalion Chief's vehicle.

2004 - Mike Haney

We weren't the only one to appreciate Steve Bass and his abilities. In March of 2004, Chief Bass was promoted to Assistant City Manager for the City of Bedford. His replacement was Mike Haney. Chief Haney began with our department as a volunteer in the late 60's and became the second career Fire Fighter for our Department. Chief Haney worked his way up through the ranks to become our newest Fire Chief for the Bedford Fire Department. When Chief Bass's promotion was announced, Chief Haney was the Operations Chief for our department and was assigned as the Interim Fire Chief. In early July, his promotion was made official as the new Fire Chief.

1998 - Steve Bass

In 1998, Steve Bass became our Chief. Chief Bass came to us from the Dallas Fire Department with 26 years of experience. He had risen through the ranks to become Deputy Chief over Training and special operations. With the acquisition of Chief Bass, our department began taking massive strides forward. All front line equipment was replaced with new top of the line equipment, Fire Station #3 was constructed, staffed and placed in service. During this phase, our staffing levels rose to 19 persons per shift. Our hiring procedures were improved in that we worked in conjunction with 10 other departments in the area and actively recruited Paramedic trained personnel. Our call volume had increased tremendously, but with prior planning, we maintained an average of 4 minutes response time to all incidents. Our personnel were trained in hazardous materials incidents, high angle rescue, swift water rescue, confined space rescue and many other advanced procedures. We entered into agreements with other cities in the county for equipment purchases in order to save money and better provide for all the citizens in the area. We purchased a Light/Air unit (A151) that is owned by 14 total departments and is staffed and stationed at our Central Fire Station. Other purchases include new Hazardous Materials trucks, Heavy Rescue apparatus, Bomb Disposal equipment, light rescue truck, and decontamination equipment and many other items. During this time, we experienced the highest level of cooperation ever seen among all the Cities in the North East portion of our County. Our Trunked radio system was further expanded to include the City of Grapevine plus the addition of two more repeaters. The radio system was further expanded to allow us to access any of the other trunked radio systems in the area, including Fort Worth, Arlington and DFW Airport. For the first time in the History of the Bedford Fire Department, every Fire Department in the area could now communicate freely with each other, relieving a problem that had plagued our department since the first call our Fire Department responded to.

1968 - E. M. Bilger Jr

1968 was the beginning of a new era in the Bedford Fire Department. The Fire Chief at this time was E. M. Bilger Jr, the middle of three generations of Bedford Fire Fighters. Chief Bilger worked full time as a Police Officer for the City of Fort Worth, until his retirement from the police department in 1980 with over 30 years as a police officer. Upon his retirement from the Police Department, he became the first fully paid Fire Chief for the City of Bedford. With his retirement from the Fire Department in 1996, he left with well over 40 years of service to the City of Bedford and to the Fire Department.

In 1968, we were still a volunteer department, but changes were in the near future. During this time, the fire department purchased its first Custom Fire Engine. A 1968 American La France Pioneer. This unit was a 1250 Gallon per minute, 500 gallon water tank custom fire engine and was the pride of the department. Many changes were about to occur within the department. This was only the beginning.

In 1973, the private ambulance company that had been serving the City of Bedford went before the City Council and demanded that the city pay them a subsidy. The council refused. The Council then called the Fire Chief at home and told him that as of midnight, the Fire Department was running the ambulance service. EMS in the Fire Department was born and the Bedford Fire Department made history in Tarrant County by becoming the first Fire Department run ambulance service in the County. Phone calls were made, equipment was thrown together and by midnight, Bedford had its first ambulance. It was a 1965 Ford Station wagon, a cot borrowed from a funeral home, and a first aid kit that was made from a TV Repairman's service box. It was quickly determined that the station wagon was only a temporary measure.

In 1975, a Chevrolet Suburban was purchased and equipped as an ambulance. It was quickly replaced by a 1976 Dodge Maxi van custom designed as an Ambulance. Personnel were quickly sent to schools and trained as EMT's, certified by the State of Texas. Several of the members of the department attended the first paramedic program that was taught in Tarrant County. In 1977 Bedford Fire Department became one of the first Fully Advanced Life Support services in Tarrant County.

Of course, we still had fires. Since Bedford was originally a farming community that was growing fast, we had our share of vacant houses that sat on old farm lands. As the fire calls continued to increase, the demands on the Department increased. In 1972 the first paid fire fighter for the City was hired. Tony Singleton was the first paid fire fighter in the City. Tony came from the Naval Air Station in Dallas and was a volunteer for the department for several years. He was followed by Mike Haney, who retired in 2006, as the Fire Chief. After Singleton left to work in Cheney, Washington as a Fire Chief, Rick Nash was hired. Six months later in October of 1975, Brad Bilger was hired and the three shift Fire Department was born. The main concern of the city then was to provide some coverage during the day when most of the volunteers were at work. During the evenings, many of the volunteers would come and spend the night at the station to provide additional coverage.

Many of our Volunteers are now members of the Fire Department with many of them now in administration. Yes, that is Emergency Management Officer Rick Nash on the left and Current Fire Chief James Tindell on the right. The article is from the mid 70's.

During this growing phase, we weren't without our mistakes and accidents. Some of them were immortalized in cartoons and pictures. Towards the end of this time, our department began expanding. We built a new Central Fire Station, increased the number of personnel on shift, built Fire Station #2, and entered into a contract with the City of Colleyville to supplement their Fire Department in the southern third of their city. Other improvements included Bedford forming an 800 mhz Trunked Radio System that was expanded to cover our city and the Cities of Colleyville, Keller, Euless and Grapevine.

1964

In 1964, additional apparatus was purchased and placed in service. Among the additional units was the first new apparatus purchased by the department. This unit was a 1964 Ford Tilt Cab, 750 gallons of water with a 250GPM pump. It was designed as a "Fast Attack" unit. Bedford, at this time had few hydrants and water had to be brought with us to the fire. This was the first in unit for many years, until its retirement in the late 70's.

Additionally, since most of the calls that our department ran during this time were grass fires, a specialty truck was built. This was purchased from Army Surplus and was a 1956 GMC two and a half ton Army truck. All modifications were done in the Fire Department by the volunteers. Six wheel drive, 650 Gallons of water. The pump was run by a 283 Chevrolet Engine mounted behind the drivers seat that ran an old gear driven pump. One day, during a fire, the pump burned out and was replaced by a 4 cyl Wisconsin Engine running a 250 GPM pump. This truck was slow and designed only for Grass fires. But once in its natural environment, nothing could stop it. We responded at one time or another to every city in North East Tarrant County, including DFW Airport several times. Other departments knew that once it got on the scene, the grass fire was out. With massive tires, a powerful engine and 6 wheel drive, nothing could stop this unit off road. Nothing that is, but a muddy field. Once stuck, it was a major undertaking to recover it.

In 1976, the Bedford Fire Department was involved in the Bicentennial Celebrations. One of the Volunteers, David DeWees, contacted the fire chief and asked if he could paint one of the trucks with a patriotic theme. The result is seen on the right. This truck was painted by the Fire Fighters, in the back bay of the fire station. Being a volunteer department, the Chief knew to keep people involved in the department was to give them a project to keep them active, involved and since most of our volunteers at the time were High School age, keep them off the street and working towards public service.

1961 - Luther Himes

Bedford finally gets a fire station. The station was built by the volunteer fire fighters for the city. This building served as the Fire Department, Police Department, City Hall and Community Center for many years. It was located at 1949 Bedford Road, just down the street from the present Central Fire Station. Additional equipment was either purchased or was donated to the department. The unit pictured on the left, was a rescue truck. It wasn't stocked with much. Cutting tools, first aid kits, and other rescue equipment. Whatever they could beg, borrow or get donated to the department. The Fire Department at this time consisted of 30 Volunteers.

Bedford's first unit was a 1952 Diamond T which originally served the City of Fort Worth as Pump 25 until they retired it. The engine was a 750 GPM pump with a 200 Gallon water tank. It served with the Bedford Fire Department as a front line, then as a reserve unit until 1984, when it was sold.

November 25, 1954 - Roy Daycus, First Fire Chief

From the minutes of the Bedford Fire Department:

"A community meeting was called for November 25, 1954 for the purpose of forming a Volunteer Fire Department. The meeting was called to order by Roy Daycus. Meeting was opened by a song and a prayer. A motion was made and carried to organize a Volunteer Fire Department for the City of Bedford, Texas. "

And with this, the Bedford Fire Department came into being. But of course, a fire department can't do much without a fire truck. So in 1956, Bedford got it's first two fire trucks. We just didn't have a place to put them so the first trucks ran out of a gas station on Bedford Road.

1944 Chevrolet 4X4 Purchased from Gene Hill Equipment in Fort Worth.
1952 Chevrolet - This truck originally was a Flatbed truck that was donated to the City. It was rebuilt into a fire truck by E. M. Bilger Jr., Buck Wilson, and Curtis McCaffity.
 
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