Maybe Mac Hohenberger just had a confident face.
It was the only explanation he could come up with while playfully reminiscing about the first time he set foot in what was then the Argyle Volunteer Fire District nearly 30 years ago.
Hohenberger was in his twenties, although he had owned an auditing firm since he was 18. This fact interested then-fire chief Mike Harral, who needed someone to take over the district’s books.
“Their paperwork was in bad shape, and they were desperate,” Hohenberger said with a laugh. “I remember him saying to me, ‘I heard you had experience in accounting.’ Next thing I know he’s asking me if I’ll be their treasurer.
“Notice, it was the first day I saw this place. I thought, ‘Is it common to appoint someone as treasurer on the first day?’ »
To be fair to Harral, Hohenberger was recommended by another volunteer firefighter who had pestered his buddy for months to join the crew. Yes, he had a confident face. But he was also a hard worker and fit right in with a small-town neighborhood made up exclusively of part-timers and volunteers. So, in addition to straightening the books, Hohenberger completed the necessary training and became a part-time firefighter.
Before anyone knew it, Hohenberger had risen through the ranks to captain. In 1999 he replaced Harral as chef.
A lot has happened during that time, including AFD’s transition to Denton County Emergency Services District #1 in 2006. And Hohenberger has proudly helped steer the ship every step of the way. path.
He will officially call it a career in January – although he admits they will struggle to keep him out of the fire station.
“We have a dog here, and I have to bring him a bone every morning or he will come looking for me,” Hohenberger said. His original retirement date of June 1 has been pushed back to January so he can help ease the transition to a new leader, who has yet to be named. “In fact, this is one of the prerequisites for the new leader. They’re gonna have to get that dog his bones.
All joking aside, it will take a lot more than that to fill Hohenberger’s boots while keeping tabs on a neighborhood and community that has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 30 years alone. Denton County Emergency Services District No. 1 began as the Argyle Volunteer Fire District in 1963 with the help of a group of local citizens, as no official fire station was previously in place. In 2006, citizens voted and approved the creation of DCESD#1 to ensure funding stability.
Today, the district operates from three fire stations and provides service to more than 48,000 residents in Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, Corral City, Lantana, Northlake and surrounding areas within a 65 square mile radius.
To put those numbers into perspective, Hohenberger said the population served was around 6,000 people when he started. The service has also gone from 340 calls per year to 3,700 today. The first full-time employee was hired in 1999. Today, there are 42 full-time employees and nine part-time employees. The district has also added ambulance services and more.
“At that time, we didn’t have a great chance of saving someone’s life after a heart attack, etc.,” Hohenberger said. “Nowadays, we save lives every day. The types of calls we receive have also changed. They went from calls about snake and dog bites to heart attacks, gunshots, suicides and other violent acts. It’s good to see our ability to meet these needs improve.
While it’s easy to pinpoint the chef as the reason for these successes, Hohenberger refuses to take all the credit.
“I put a lot of time into it, but so many others did too. It wasn’t just Mac doing this,” he said. photo of our crew taken in 1999 or 2000; I hadn’t seen this photo in years, but just looking at it I can tell you that every guy and girl in it played an important role in the why ESD is there. Guys like James Price, who is in this picture, had been volunteers since the 70s. Jon Donahue, Brad Cochran, Jeff Mangum… remember when you did this, and you did this, and this person here did that. It’s a great story to tell because each one of them stepped in at the most important time.
He added, “Before ESD, we had to go to every town and ask for money. It provided more financial stability, and look what we are able to do now. Everyone here is very proud of what we do every day.
That’s why it will be difficult for Hohenberger to walk away once January rolls around. That said, he and his wife, Karla, plan to travel in their motorhome and spend as much time as possible with their five children and six grandchildren.
“We’re going to do a lot of traveling, that’s for sure. And that will help me stay away,” Hohenberger said. “Whoever is the next chief will have a large group of firefighters. You can’t find a better group of firefighters.