By Joshua Winata
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Fire Chief Dennis Haas will retire, effective this weekend.
Haas said that he and his wife have discussed retirement "off and on for some time" and said there were "a million different reasons" motivating him to step down from the position.
City officials and Haas emphasize that his decision to retire was entirely voluntary. Despite recent media reports, City Manager Andrea Gardner confirmed that Haas is not and has not been on administrative leave. Haas was out of the office for several days this week, citing "personal reasons."
Haas was hired by the city in February 2004 and has served for more than four years.
"I worked my entire career in order to be appointed as fire chief in some community. Copperas Cove fortunately, for both myself and the city, was the first to allow me that opportunity," Haas said. "More importantly, the men and women of the fire department have really impacted my life, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have met them and served as their fire chief."
During his time as chief, the fire department implemented a number of new community outreach programs, including the Open House and the Mentoring Industrious Minds & Educating Students program, which was one of seven national finalists for the 2007 Fire Service Award for Excellence.
Haas also oversaw the expansion of the department's fleet and personnel. Last year, the CCFD received about $600,000 in grants to hire six new employees and purchase 10 sets of protective clothing, gear and self-contained breathing apparatus.
"Those are huge accomplishments for any organization, and I was proud to be a part of that," Haas said.
In addition, CCFD also boosted its Insurance Services Office rating from a class four to a class two, making it the first city in the Central Texas area to achieve such a score.
"I believe we've accomplished many, many things, and I say we with a capital W," Haas said. "I can't do anything alone, and I had a lot of help from my command staff and firefighters."
Haas said he hopes to continue working in the fire industry doing teaching and consulting work. He also wants to work with the 911 Fund, a nonprofit organization based in New York that donates equipment and training to firefighters in South America and other international departments.
Haas and his family plan on moving to Ruidoso, N.M., where they own some property and hope to relocate before the start of next school year.
City Manager Andrea Gardner said the position of fire chief will be posted early next week.
City officials extended their thanks to Haas for his contributions to the community and wished him well in his retirement.
"The fire service is such an awesome profession," Haas said, citing the positive impact and public confidence that the job inspires in residents. "I'm just fortunate for having the opportunity to serve 28 years in a career like that."
Contact Joshua Winata at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.