Newly appointed Fire Chief Greg Mathis isn’t new to the role of firefighting. He has a little over 27 years of employment with the Huntsville Fire Department, with his most recent job title including Captain and Fire Inspector.
Chief Mathis began his career by chance when he “buddied up” with a friend to join the department as a volunteer in November 1990. He transitioned to a full-time firefighter in 1996, when then-Chief Joe French retired.
“The one thing I have enjoyed most over the years is talking with the children,” Chief Mathis said. “For years, children have recognized me while I was at the grocery store, and they would tell their parents how they remembered an outreach program I did. It is moments like that when I know I have made an impact in this community.”
Chief Mathis said he has seen several of the kids he spoke to as young children get involved in the firefighting field.
“There are several who have joined the Texas Task Force 1, Conroe Fire Department, and Texas Forest Service, just to name a few,” Chief Mathis said. “I have made lasting friendships while on the job.”
Chief Mathis recalled an accident he responded to, where he sat and prayed with a woman who had lost a loved one. He said that same woman calls, sends birthday cards, and hugs him every time they run into each other.
“She doesn’t realize that the bond we created that day has benefited me, through her support and friendship,” Chief Mathis said. “That rings true to a lot of calls I have gone on in my career.”
Since becoming Chief, Mathis noted that the backbone of his success has been his coworkers.
“Everyone has been absolutely amazing. We have a good structure in the department, and great leaders who make my new job easy,” Chief Mathis said. “Not that there isn’t room for improvement. I am very thankful to the department and the City for all of the support they have given me over the last 27 years.”
Chief Mathis recalled being called into action with The Texas Task Force 1, an urban search and rescue team.
“I was deployed and Tom said go, take care of business,” Chief Mathis said. “The Task Force was ready to deploy to Haiti, but the military decided our safe return was questionable. The unit did not make it to the disaster, but while I was gone, my colleagues stepped up and filled in for me.”
He said the City has supported every training opportunity he has had, which he has greatly appreciated. Chief Mathis has hands-on experience in a variety of rescues, from firefighting, to swift water, to boat rescues.
“I can relate to the firefighters facing the day-to-day calls and dealing with life. I have found that being a good listener is important,” Chief Mathis said.
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Chief Mathis moved to Huntsville in 1979, and is a 1987 graduate of Huntsville High School. After leaving high school, he worked for the City in the Fleet Service, then Wastewater, and in Public Works, all while being a volunteer firefighter.
“I think my dad is the most excited and proud of my promotion,” Chief Mathis said. “He has been calling the entire family.”
Chief Mathis enjoys spending time with his family, which includes his wife, five daughters, and two grandsons.
“I have known Greg for a long time. I have faith that he is the right man to lead the Fire Department,” said Director of Public Safety Police Chief Kevin Lunsford. “He is a community-minded individual and a great leader.”
Chief Mathis can be contacted at 936-291-5944 or gmathis@HuntsvilleTX.gov.