Mansfield City Manager Clayton Chandler announced Friday that long-time Fire Chief Barry Bondurant is retiring Jan. 1, following 34 years of service to the City of Mansfield.
“Chief Bondurant has guided the Fire Department as chief for the past 10 years during which the department has experienced significant growth,” Chandler said. “He has been an example to others of what public service means and has given unselfishly to the citizens and the department. He will be truly missed. I respect and appreciate his contribution.
“Barry has seen this city grow from a small community of 11,000 to a city of more than 70,000 people,” Chandler continued. “As the city has grown, so has Mansfield Fire Rescue. Barry has been a guiding force in expanding the department and maintaining its high standards. It’s hard to lose Barry, not just for his experience but for the integrity he has brought to the job.”
In the same announcement Chandler named Assistant Chief Mike Ross to the position of interim fire chief. Ross has served in the department for 19 years and as assistant chief for four and a half years.
“Chief Ross is a highly competent and experienced member of the department,” Chandler said. “He will serve as fire chief until the selection process is completed. I have total confidence in Chief Ross and the command staff until a final determination is made.”
Bondurant had been a firefighter for the Town of Pantego for a year before joining Mansfield in October 1984 as a firefighter/EMT, obtaining his paramedic certification in 1989. Over the years Bondurant obtained several fire certifications including intermediate, advanced and master firefighter certifications.
In 2004 Bondurant was promoted to deputy fire chief over operations, later moving to assistant fire chief in 2006. He was named Fire Chief in October 2008. During his tenure as Fire Chief the city opened Fire Station No. 4, renovated and expanded Station No. 2 and purchased land and designed Fire Station No. 5. Bondurant said while there have been many high points at the department during his career, he believes his greatest accomplishment was not losing a firefighter in the line of duty under his watch.
“I worried about burying a firefighter, about having to go to someone’s house in the middle of the night to give them that news,” he said. “That was my goal and by God’s grace, I never had to do that.”
He said he remembers running a lot of calls out of the city’s first station on Smith Street, now the parks operations building. Even with all the changes in Mansfield over the years, what hasn’t changed is the family feeling of the fire department and the city organization as a whole.
“I’ll miss the guys, and the other employees of the city,” Bondurant said. “Not just the fire department but the police, parks, water…all the city departments. It’s a family. It’s been my family for more than half of my life. It’s tough to go, but it’s time.”