A tale of two captains
By Traci Chapman
“I have been incredibly lucky, it’s been a blessing to work with these guys, with this family,” says Dylan Ross.
Those words marked the end of a 25-year career with Mustang Fire Department. Ross, who loved his job and his fellow firefighters, hated being in the spotlight, even as he was celebrated upon his retirement, Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman said.
“Dylan’s been a huge asset to this department for a long time,” the chief said. “He’s a hard act to follow.
“We basically had to trick him to get him to be recognized as he really deserves,” Hickman said.
The man selected to take on that task was Andy Willrath, the department’s newest captain. Five firefighters were eligible to test for the captain’s position, and three went through the process, Hickman said. Willrath earned the promotion after a selection process that included testing, skill assessments and even a simulated media briefing.
“It’s an exciting time, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
The “changing of the guard” was official last week, as Ross’ fellow firefighters said goodbye to their longtime colleague and Willrath was officially pinned in his new position. It was a time for everyone to look ahead – and back – at how the department has changed over the years, Hickman said.
“We’ve certainly grown and we’ve seen a lot of changes,” he said.
Willrath joined the department in 1995 as a volunteer while working at United Parcel Service. He went full time in 2003 and was made 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.
“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.”
“No one could love or appreciate a job more,” Willrath said. “I’m the luckiest guy I know.”