Reporter: Ellie Mahan
March 1, 2023
David Gilmore started his new role as Whitney fire chief Wednesday, February 1. Gilmore recently retired from Mansfield Fire Department after over 27 years of service.
Gilmore got his start in public service at the Bosque County Sheriff’s Office, where he started in 1990 as a jailer and later became chief jailer. While holding his job at the jail, he also attended the fire academy in Taylor. Gilmore then worked for Belton Fire Department for two years before starting in Mansfield. When Gilmore was hired in Mansfield in 1995, the population of the city was less than 20,000. Now the city’s population is more than 74,300.
As an engineer and apparatus operator at the Mansfield Fire Department, Gilmore drove the apparatus to the scene and handled the pumping operations, ladder operations and hydraulics.
During his time at the Mansfield Fire Department, Gilmore was also a reserve officer for the Whitney Police Department. He has active shooter training, and he said that he could be a resource in emergency situations, stating that he could provide quick medical attention to victims if there is an active shooter. Gilmore is trained to be an advanced fire investigator, advanced structural firefighter, an advanced fire inspector and a hazmat technician.
He thanked Whitney Fire Department’s volunteers, who he said have consistently assisted with calls, and he added that the volunteers are the true heroes of the department because they repeatedly do good for others, without expecting any recognition in return.
The Whitney Fire Department is always looking for volunteers, and one of Gilmore’s goals is to recruit more volunteers and obtain the funds necessary to outfit them. A set of firefighting bunker gear can be up to $3,000. Gilmore said, “It is just a matter of finding people who have the time these days. Most people, both family members work, and they have kids, and people are struggling right now. They’re having a hard time volunteering.”
During the day when many of the volunteers are working at their separate jobs, sometimes only a couple of volunteers are able to assist Gilmore with calls. Other times he responds alone.
“They call this a chief position, but it’s really not. It is a position of servitude and hands on. You’ve got to be willing to go do anything you’re called and asked to do,” he said.
Gilmore’s favorite aspect of working for a fire department is making a difference in people’s lives. He formed relationships with many of the citizens he has saved and helped over the years. In Mansfield, he took the time to go above and beyond what the calls required him to do and went the extra mile for those in need. He plans to bring the same passion for helping others to his department in Whitney.
Another one of Gilmore’s goals is to transition to documenting reports and training online rather than documenting training and reports by hand on paper. The Whitney Fire Department is working on purchasing a computer program that allows all of its reports to be sent to the state and the Texas Forestry Service. He also hopes to eventually enroll 10 people each year in Vector Solutions, an internet program that supplies credit hours and certificates for training courses that are completed.
In addition, Gilmore aspires to improve the Whitney Fire Department’s ISO rating, which is a score used to measure how prepared a city is for fire emergencies. Whitney’s current ISO rating is a five, and Gilmore hopes to bring it up to a three or at least a four. ISO ratings impact the city’s ability to provide lower insurance rates to those who have homes and businesses in town.
“That helps bring businesses to your city. When they don’t have to spend as much money on insurance because we can go there and protect it and save it, we’ll get more businesses that want to come to the city,” Gilmore said.
Whitney’s new fire chief has been located in the Whitney area for about 35 years. Gilmore said, “My wife Lisa was from Clifton, so after we were married in 1986, we moved down here in 1988 and purchased the old skating rink across the dam and ran that for multiple years.”
Gilmore enjoys the laid-back atmosphere of Whitney and the fact that it is away from the hustle and bustle of Fort Worth, where he grew up, and Mansfield, where he worked. On top of his firefighting experience, Gilmore has also worked in construction, and he built his own home on 22 acres. He spends peaceful nights sitting on his front porch and watching deer. He also likes to fish in the two ponds he has on his property, host family get-togethers or practice shooting his guns. The Gilmores also raise cattle, and they have two dogs and two cats.
Another aspect of Whitney that Gilmore says he appreciates is the sense of community he has found in the town. Many of the connections Gilmore has made have been through Lisa, who has owned and managed a nail salon out of her home for 32 years. Gilmore said, “Lisa is my rock. She has stuck with me through thick and thin.”
The Gilmores are the proud parents of one son, who graduated from Whitney High School and is now in his third year at Baylor University. He holds majors in film and digital media, and professional writing and rhetoric and a minor in creative writing. Their son is musically talented and plays guitar, piano, drums and bass.
For information about how to become a volunteer for the Whitney Fire Department, call the non-emergency phone number for the department: 254-694-2444.