Willrath latest MFD captain

Andy Willrath is the newest captain of the Mustang Fire Department. Willrath was selected last week to take the captain’s spot upon the retirement of Dylan Ross, who has been with the department for 25 years.

Andy Willrath

Andy Willrath

“It will be an exciting time – I’ve got some giant shoes to fill,” Willrath said of Ross.

Fire Chief Carl Hickman said Ross has been a big part of Mustang’s success.

“Dylan was actually working the day I came here to work,” Hickman said. “I certainly hate to see him go – we’re losing a lot of experience and just a great guy.

“I wish him well in his retirement,” he said.

Ross was a staple in the department when Willrath joined in 1995, as well, he said.

“When I came on, he (Ross) was one of three full-time guys,” he said. “Now we have 15 full-time firefighters.”

Both the department and Willrath have seen lots of changes over the years. Willrath began as a volunteer while working at United Parcel Service. He joined the department full time on Jan. 1, 2003, working his way up to lieutenant in 2009. Since becoming a Mustang firefighter, Willrath has become well known in the community, as one of the leaders in efforts like Santa’s Toy Shoppe, as well as the department’s school fire safety program, among others.

It’s a long way from the shy student who attended Yukon High School, he said.

“You’d never know it but when I was in high school I was so shy,” Willrath said. “Now I’ll talk to everyone – I love interacting with people, I love the camaraderie.”

Five firefighters were eligible to test for the captain’s position, and three went through the process, Hickman said. The trio went through a series of written tests, as well as exercises graded by a panel of three fire chiefs.

“Andy was the one who came out on top,” the chief said. “I have the fullest confidence that he’ll do us a good job.”

Willrath is married to Lea and has two children, Sawyer, 5, and Cooper, 2. He said dealing with children and talking to them about fire safety is one of the perks of a job that has stayed fresh and interesting to him since his early days as a volunteer.

“Are you kidding me, I get to be on a fire truck every day,” Willrath said. “It’s the best job I could ever hope to have, and I’m lucky to be part of this department and to do this every day.”