Battalion Chief James “Jimmy” Vogel has spent the past 40 years serving the community as a member of the Seguin Fire Department.
On Friday, with a call over the radio to the city’s dispatch, that service came to a close.
“Seguin Battalion Chief Jimmy Vogel has proudly served the city of Seguin for the past 40 years,” the dispatcher said. “He’s been an exceptional leader and role model to several firefighters and community members. On behalf of the Seguin Fire Department and the city of Seguin, we thank you for your years of wish you a happy retirement. You will be greatly missed.”
Vogel began his service by joining a relatively new volunteer fire department in the county.
New Berlin Fire Department had just started, and Vogel signed up to help.
“As a young kid, I was interested in the excitement part of it,” he said. “I was a volunteer there for a while. I just thought, ‘wow, I could get paid to do this.’”
That time set Vogel on the track to becoming a full-time firefighter.
“I never really considered it all that much before that, but then I started looking into it,” he said. “I went to EMT school, went to the fire academy, and got all of my training done before I even got here. They were nice enough, the old Chief (Roger) MyCue was nice enough to hire me and apparently, I liked it because it stuck for 40 years.”
For the next 40 years and two months, Vogel worked his way through the department serving in all capacities — EMT, firefighter, lieutenant, captain, then battalion chief.
On Friday, a host of family and friends surprised Vogel during his last shift to honor and celebrate his retirement.
When he arrived at Central Fire Station, and the bay doors opened, he was taken aback by the crowd gathered.
“I figured something was going to happen because that is the way these people are,” he said. “I knew they had something up their sleeve, but it took me back a little bit.”
While addressing the crowd, Vogel reminded his crew of firefighters to look out for each other and to always to remember why they are there.
He also praised the department and the city for taking care of him.
“This is the only (department) I’ve ever known, so it is the best one that I know,” he said. “I’ll put them against anybody. It’s a good department. The city itself has been very good to me and my family. I’m as happy as I can be.”
But most importantly, he said it was his family who stood beside him as he chose to serve the city.
“I want to thank my family — mom, dad, my son Zach, my sister, brother, but most of all, my wife,” he said, holding back tears. “A lot of birthdays, a lot of Christmases, you put up with being with kids, overnight on your own.”
Seguin Fire Chief Dale Skinner said Vogel’s retirement is “bittersweet.”
“It is a bittersweet moment for not only Jimmy but for all of us,” he said. “We’re excited for him because it is a great big chapter for him, but in the same, it is bittersweet. He has dedicated 40 years to this city and the fire department. That knowledge and experience will be missed.”
Vogel’s leadership skills are just one reason he’ll be missed, Skinner said.
“We’ve developed a great friendship since I came here,” he said. “He welcomed me to this family from day one. Seeing him leave is like watching a family member leave.”
In his retirement, Vogel said he and his family have plans to keep him busy for working cattle to traveling.
“We have some acreage, and we’ve got some cows, so I’ll be doing that,” he said. “There’s going to be more at home stuff taken care of. We’re going to do some traveling. We’ve got plans already for a couple of trips this year. Hopefully, we’ll be doing a lot more of that.”