Brownwood firefighters, local officials and friends offered their best wishes in a Tuesday reception to outgoing Fire Chief Eddy Wood, who will begin working as division chief — the number two position — at the Saginaw Fire Department.

Brownwood Fire Marshal Buddy Preston will serve as interim chief until a new chief is hired.

Wood, who became Brownwood fire chief in April 2017, is from Azle and said the Saginaw job put hm closer to family. His last day on the job in Brownwood is Wednesday.

“It’s been awesome,” Wood said of his Brownwood tenure. “It’s been a challenge but it’s been outstanding. It’s been very good for me.”

Preston said the fire department is happy and proud for Wood.

Preston drew laughter when he said, “by tradition, if you retire from the Brownwood Fire Department you get a mounted axe. He’s not retiring so he gets a knife.”

Preston again drew laughter when he said, “we’ll always be here. Whether you are here or not, we will.”

Mayor Stephen Haynes thanked Wood for his “professionalism and commitment to improving both the safety of the staff and also the safety of the community.

“You guys want to be the very best, and my job is to say 'the very best within the budget that I can give you,'” Haynes said.  “What I appreciate about Chief Wood is, I always thought he was a team player. The amount of safety equipment and fire apparatus you can buy is endless, I suppose. He understood budget constrains. He understood that we have to be frugal and we have to make the budget balance.”

Haynes said Wood “walked that balance real well and I know that’s difficult. I thought you did it very well. We wish you the best in Saginaw.” 

Wood thanked firefighters for their support “from day one, and I do appreciate what you guys have done," Wood said. "We hit some rocky times and we hit some good times but the mission still had to be accomplished. That’s exactly what we did.”

Wood called Brownwood school superintendent Dr. Joe Young and Bobby August, coordinator of the district’s athletic facilities and grounds, to come forward and presented the men with fire helmets.

Wood said he was honoring their two because they allowed firefighters from Fire Station 2 to temporarily be housed in the Gordon Wood Stadium field house. Station 2 has been vacated for repairs.

  “Your guys are the heroes,” August said, donning his fire helmet. “They’re the ones running in when everybody else is running out.”

Speaking to the media, Wood said benefitted personally and professionally during his time as Brownwood fire chief. “Any time you can come into a community like this and say ‘my marching orders are clear. Tell us that we are doing what we need to be doing,’” Wood said.

“That is what I focused on the entire time I’ve been here. The fire hose, the equipment improvements, the technology upgrades, the personnel, the training, you name it, that’s an easy marching order for me. We are in fact doing what we need to be doing.”