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Fire Chief elected to state office

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The Ellis County Press

OVILLA - Ovilla Fire Chief Donnie Pickard was elected to serve as the fourth vice president of the State Firemen and Fire Marshals' Association at its state convention recently.

Pickard, who has served with the Ovilla Fire Department since 1974, is the first person from Ellis County to serve as a state officer in the association's 127-year history.

In 2008, he will serve a year as the president of the association.

The SFFMA is a trade organization serving volunteer firefighters and fire marshals by encouraging training and certification.

It works with other associations such as the Texas Fire Chiefs' Association and firefighter unions to improve firefighting education, service and laws.

The SFFMA supports and sponsors the world's largest firefighting school at Texas A&M each summer.

Pickard has been a member of the association for more than 20 years.

Recently, he has served as the certifying coordinator for training of volunteer firefighters in Zone 9, an area extending from Hill County north to the Red River.

In 1998, he was awarded recognition as the State Firefighter of the Year.

'My primary duty as fourth vice president is to attend district meetings for informational updates,' Pickard said.

He will lead planning of the memorial service for firefighters at the state convention next year. After serving as president in 2008, he will be a life-time member with voting privileges.

In the meantime, Pickard is carrying around a red shoebox as part of his duties as vice president.

'I get to tote around this shoebox,' he explained. 'During the convention, people would try to take it away from me.

'I'm supposed to keep it, because it has mementos from former vice presidents in it.

'I put a ballot with my name on it in the box as a memento.'

Getting the shoebox back requires a $20 donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a favorite charity of the firefighters.

Pickard holds the Master Firefighter certification from the SFFMA, and is an instructor and examiner for Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic certification.

He is an instructor in the Ellis County Fire School and the Texas A&M Fire School.

Other honors he has received include being named the North Texas Firefighter of the Year in 1991, and the Ovilla Fire Department Officer of the Year from 1992 thru 1999.

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