Joplin Fire Chief to Retire

Published 07/24 2014 07:05AM

Updated 07/24 2014 07:10AM

JOPLIN, Mo. -- The man who led the Joplin Fire Department through some of its darkest days following the May 2011 tornado - is retiring.

"From the day I walked in the door 23 years ago to today, it's a much different department," said Fire Chief Mitch Randles.

Randles says advances in firefighting equipment and techniques make the job easier and crews safer compared to the risks of the job in 1991.

"More of the go in and, you know, with one or two people and attack the fire, and basically not come out until you put it out. Now, you've got more personnel to do it with and more equipment," said Chief Randles.

The Joplin Fire Department itself is bigger, with more stations and more firefighters. That was crucial a few years ago when Randles faced his biggest professional challenge.

"We can never get away from the 2011 tornado event. That's going to be something that's a marker in all of our lives. Not just mine and my family's, but the city's lifetime," he said.

His new job as fire chief in Temple, Texas comes with a bigger town and a bigger department. He has a whole new set of state rules to learn.

"It's exciting and scary at the same time. I've been here a long time and lived in the city with my family for my entire life, so it's a big change," he said.

Chief Randles will end his Joplin career August 1st. He says he's looking forward to the challenges in store, but will miss the people he leaves behind. 

(KODE, Joplin)

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