Fire chief decides to focus on flock as pastor
By Joe Hadsall
January 24, 2006
NIXA – As Sparta’s fire chief, Troy Hull has answered a lot of calls. Now he answers the highest calling of them all. Hull announced his resignation as Sparta’s fire chief last week. Citing a need to answer God’s call, Hull will spend more time with his church members as the pastor of Garrison Baptist Church.
“God has blessed our congregation,” Hull said. “When I took the job, we had an average daily attendance of 25 to 30 people. Now we’re taking off. We have about 70 to 80 per week.
“It’s time for me to be a pastor and leader. That’s where my time needs to go now.”
Hull has been a Sparta firefighter for 17 years. He leaves behind a department that has grown considerably.
“We did everything we could to talk him into staying, but we couldn’t,” board president Bill Preston said. “We accepted his resignation, but not very willingly. He is one of the greatest chiefs we have ever had.”
Over the last 18 years, Hull has served many positions with the department. Starting back when the district took subscriptions and had members, Hull helped grow the district, trying to find new customers daily. He remembers when the district bought its first “real” fire truck—in 1995.
However, in 1999, the district made a big transition, going from subscription to a tax-levied district encompassing Sparta and Bruner. As part of the deal, Hull promised a new fire station for Bruner.The $26,000 building was completed last year.
Now, the district has 10-15 volunteers ready for action, an annual budget of around $70,000 and an ISO rating of 7.
“We had absolutely no problems with him,” Preston said. “Our department runs pretty stress-free. He kept us in budget and he knew the best places to spend to make the department better.”
Now, Preston and the other two members of the board are tasked with finding a replacement. Assistant Chief Kelly McCullah has been appointed as the interim chief, giving the board time to explore a few options—though Preston declined to give details.
The job won’t be easy. Finding volunteers has never been tougher, Hull said, especially with extra constraints and limitations placed by the federal government since Sept. 11.
And the salary isn’t exactly high. Hull didn’t mind volunteering to be the chief, but the board decided to give him a salary anyway: $300 a year.
“It’s still very close to being a volunteer position,” Preston said. “If we had more money, we could pay more for a chief, we could advertise. For the most part, we’ll have to find someone to almost volunteer.”
For now, Hull will keep working his framing business and continue to grow the church he leads. He is thankful for the time he has spent with the district, but needs to get completely away from it for now.
He resigned once before and spent time as a member of the board. But, he found his way back to the chief position once again.
“I need to walk completely away, but it’s going to be hard,” Hull said. “I still jump every time I hear a siren. With no pager and no radio, I almost feel lost at night. It’s a strange feeling not to have that there.”