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May 05

City Hall Connects: Fire Chief Patrick Shipp

Posted on May 5, 2017 at 9:19 AM by Katie Stamy

As the Laneville, Texas fire truck roared down the street, sirens blaring, six-year-old Patrick Shipp ran toward the very edges of the sidewalk to catch a glimpse of the excitement. There was a 50/50 chance that whenever there was an emergency, the fire truck would head down the street that Patrick lived on. So, after some time, the firefighters caught on to his habit and would pick him up on the truck to join them. 

They taught him the ins and outs of firefighting, and once he was able to see over the steering wheel, they let him drive the truck. It was then that Webster Fire Chief Patrick Shipp knew that he wanted a career helping others. 

He thought law enforcement was his calling, but after a year in school studying criminal justice, he realized that his home was at the fire department. He became a paramedic, and from 1988 until 1990, he worked in fire and EMS. 

Wanting to move forward in public service, Patrick signed up for four years in the Coast Guard and moved to Astoria, Oregon. 

“I was there for two years,” he said. “I learned the true meaning of brotherhood and taking care of each other, which is what the fire service is built on.”

In the Coast Guard, he worked on the boats, and after four years of working on the water, he signed up for three more years in the Coast Guard where he worked on the helicopters. After several years of serving, Patrick had the opportunity to be released early as long as he had a job lined up. So, from his Captain’s desk, he called up to the Laneville Fire Department and was immediately hired back on as a firefighter. 

After two months back in his hometown, the Laneville Fire Chief resigned, and Patrick became the new Chief. Under his leadership, the department grew from two stations to seven.

“We started the first Basic Life Support service for our county, so we responded every time the ambulance received calls,” Patrick explained. “Then we started Advanced Life Support, and we could do anything that you could do in the hospital.”

His next move was to the Jacksonville Fire Department, where he worked for six years. One day while dropping off a victim at the emergency room, he saw a Lufkin Firefighter named Stacy, and it was love at first sight. Only four months after their first date, the pair got married. 

During his time at Laneville Fire Department, Patrick had received his Chief Officer Certification, a prestigious credential that less than 500 others had. So when College Place, Washington was looking for a Fire Chief, they headhunted Patrick, and he soon moved with Stacy up to Washington for three years. 

When his timely contract with College Place was up, Patrick began looking for other open Fire Chief positions and interviewed at various departments before landing a job in Webster in 2008. 

When Stacy and Patrick relocated to Texas, Stacy chose to pursue a career as a nurse. She now works as the ER Lead Nurse at the Bay Area Regional Medical Center, while Patrick leads the Webster Fire Department. 

When he began at WFD, it was a volunteer fire department, but after only seven months of his leadership, the department created a day crew that would take city vehicles home at night to drive to the fire department if there was a call. Their average response time was 12 minutes.

Patrick soon added a night crew, but the firefighters were not full time. So, to create continuity, he got the support of City Manager Wayne Sabo and City Council to go to a full-time fire department, which began in October 2016. 

Patrick also oversaw the construction of the new, award-winning fire station in Webster with modernized equipment, improved department quality from an ISO-2 rating to an ISO-1. He has fostered collaboration with regional and statewide safety partners, developing plans to facilitate interoperability between public safety agencies and procedures defining communications and command in response to disasters. 

Patrick is a Chief EMS Officer and has completed the Chief Fire Officer and Executive Fire Officer program, an accomplishment that only a few in the world have achieved. 

The Fire Chief has also received his second bachelor’s degree since moving to Webster, and six months ago, he received his master’s degree. 

He currently serves as the Vice President of the Texas Fire Chiefs Association and will serve as President next session. He is the second in command of Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System and responds all over the state when there are hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, or any other disasters.

When he isn’t at the fire department, Patrick and his wife, Stacy enjoy water skiing, snow skiing, and spending time with family on the farm. He hunts and fishes, and enjoys traveling, but he still finds his job fun and enjoys coming to work.

“This is a full-time job, my phone goes off every time they go out on a call,” Patrick said. “It’s a passion, and I’m glad to come to work in the morning.

“I love my job, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone over here that doesn’t.  The best-kept secret in the fire service is that we would all do this for free.”