Wall Community Honors Fire Chief's 20 Years of Service
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS – Saturday evening, the Wall Volunteer Fire Department hosted its annual pancake and sausage fundraiser at the St. Ambrose Parish. However, this year the fundraiser held a deeper meaning. After 20 years of service, Dean Dickson retired from his job as Wall’s Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief.
Rodney “Rod” Born, member of the volunteer fire department, explained, “This is the only fundraiser that Wall Fire Department does every year. The fire department gets some money from the county to be able to operate,” but, “when you’re running as large of an operation as we are, we can’t operate on only county money.”
Thus, the annual fundraiser helps the fire department raise funds to keep operating year round.
These past several years, the annual fundraiser has raised around $10,000 – $15,000, and sometimes even $16,000. At the event, attendees pay for a meal and have the option to partake in an auction and/or buy hand made sausage. The money raised at the fundraiser, Born explained, “helps us pay the insurance on our building and insurance on our trucks,” while the money received from the county, for example, “goes towards paying for our tires and fuel.”
Overall, Born is extremely thankful to the Wall community and said, “Over the last few years, we have been really blessed.”
However, this year’s annual fundraiser was a bittersweet event. Every second and fourth Thursday of the month, members of the Wall Fire Department come together for bi-monthly meetings. Every year in March, elections are held to vote in various members for positions held throughout the department. This year, Dean Dickson stepped before his friends and colleagues, and said, "I have met all my goals; everything that I wanted to do with the department I have done, and I would like to have new blood moving in, so I will not be seeking reelection for fire chief tonight," recounted Born. In honor of his 20 years of service, Born and the whole fire department got together to put on a small ceremony to honor Dickson's time and service.
At around 7 p.m., the auction began and the audience got involved. Suddenly, the auction stopped, and Dickson was asked to come to the front. There, his friends honored him with the flag that was flying over the firehouse the night Dickson relinquished command and a ceramic statue. His wife was also presented with a rose bouquet.
Dickson, who’s been Wall’s fire chief since 1997, gave a short speech and recalled some of his earliest memories with the department. He further added that this is not the end.
Afterwards, Dickson said, “There just comes a time when you need to step back and let somebody new come in. We built the department, so now we let the new come in and continue to keep doing that.”
Dickson reflected on the past 20 years, and remembered the day when the department “received [its] first grants for two trucks and a 2,000-gallon tanker.” Dickson also looked back to the time when a community member graciously donated all the metal for the department’s current building, as well as the grant from the San Angelo Health Foundation to finish the construction process.
“I am going to continue serving,” Dickson insisted. “I usually end up driving, so I’m going to continue as a driver … I want to thank the community, and I want to thank all the fire chiefs in the region whom have helped us, and we’ll continue to provide the best service that we can.”
Rodney “Rod” Born will take Dickson's place as fire chief, and John Manera will step in as assistant fire chief. Born was the last military fire chief at Goodfellow Air Force Base. After his retirement, Born decided to retire in the Wall community; and in 2001, he joined the Wall Volunteer Fire Department. Until now, Born has served as assistant fire chief to Dickson.