Russell Wilson was selected as the new Mesquite fire chief on Nov 1st. Wilson will be responsible for a team of 206 firefighters and seven stations in the area.
With more than 30 years of experience in the fire department field, Wilson has served as the fire chief for Katy, Texas and was a firefighter in Irving for about 28 years. He is excited for the city of Mesquite because of family in the area.
“I am personally excited as this will be a homecoming of sorts because my wife was raised in Mesquite,” he said. “Professionally, I have spent part of my career in Irving, and I believe this will be a better fit because of the larger department.”
Wilson earned a Master of Science, Fire and Emergency Management from Oklahoma State University and a Bachelor of Science, Emergency Administration and Planning from the University of North Texas. Along with his degrees, he graduated from the Texas Fire Chiefs Academy and the Fire Service Chief Executive Officer Program at Texas A&M University. Wilson also has multiple certifications and credentials in emergency management.
In 2019, he was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The Texas Fire Chiefs Association presented him the prestigious Texas Fire Chief of the Year Award in 2017.
“Chief Wilson is an extraordinary professional and person. His dedication to the fire service is matched only by his commitment to the communities he has served,” City Manager Cliff Keheley said. “The varied experiences and successes of his career, along with his passion for people, will make him a great fit for the men and women of the Mesquite Fire Department. His character will make him a great fit for our community.”
With his pedigree and professional background, Wilson is looking forward to being part of the Mesquite Fire Department. Last year, the department responded to about 19,000 calls for service.
“I will evaluate the department once I get there. I will build on the foundation from the former chief. The Mesquite city and fire department are good organizations with great foundations to build onto.”
Through the years, Wilson has created many programs for improvements to the fire operations and safety departments. He was part of the creation of a technical rescue team with some members going on to participate in Texas Force 2. In the past, he implemented awareness on prevention programs on cancer and mental health and wellness for firefighters.
“Mesquite has done well on cancer awareness. Firefighters are more likely to get cancer over toxins,” he said. “Secondly, I want to bring representation to firefighters with PTSD from things we see and experience. I certainly want to continue on programs established already that are successful and build more to supplement them.”
It is clear through his past work on programs such as PTSD awareness, Special Olympics Texas, the Blue Christmas Toy and Food Drive, and church activities that Wilson will be active in the community.
“I want to place an emphasis on communication and transparency with the firefighters and the community,” he said.