Climbing the ladder takes on a whole new meaning when talking to 16-year firefighting veteran Sonny Ybarra – Henderson Fire Department’s new deputy chief.
“I started my job on Halloween,” he said with a wry grin on his face. “That’s the busiest day of the year for us.”
That particular day is always high-traffic day because of the foot traffic of the youth who ascend on the fire station.
It has been a quick climb for Ybarra having only spent his career in Henderson.
“I spent four years as a firefighter, four years as a lieutenant and nine years as a captain,” said. “I have also spent the last six years in Whitehouse working the day-to-day operation there.”
Ybarra loves his career as he speaks with a huge smile on his face.
“I wanted to get into the fire department as a career,” he said. “It was a goal-oriented plan of where I wanted to be in so many years.”
And he has worked hard for all the certifications, too.
Firefighters have not been ‘just’ firefighters for about 30 years now. Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) have been cross-training for a while now.
After high school, Ybarra found himself in the San Antonia area. He completed some classes at the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) leaning towards a teaching career.
He married a Carthage girl while in San Antonio and the rest is history.
When he moved back to the Henderson-Whitehouse area, he began getting his certifications in line for his pending career.
He attended Tyler Junior College completing basic EMT training.
He holds an associate of arts in fire administration, also from TJC.
He attended and completed fire school basic at Kilgore College. He is certified as a master firefighter, fire inspector, and fire investigator. He has also taking officer classes one through four for credential and education of being an officer.
One memory he has of firefighting was when a big, two-story house on Main Street caught fire a few years ago.
“The calls, they come and go,” he said. “We deal with a lot of wrecks and medical calls.”
they come and go, wrecks and medical calls.”
Ybarra describes himself as a people person.
“For me, I’ve always been a public servant,” he said.
He has served in the Texas state guard then went to army national guard.
He does a lot of day-to-day management for the most part. He runs the operations, deals with questions and public coming in and calling, does fire inspections, and anything else the city needs him to do.
He is enjoying the perk of working 8-to-5 (mostly) Monday through Friday.
He loves being a husband and a dad as he has two boys in the elementary age.
“I like teaching them hunting and fishing. They play flag football,” he said.
“For the most part, I absolutely love working for the city of Henderson and the people,” he said. “I took the first opportunity to get on here for the last 16 years.”
“This town is great. First, being a fireman (and) now as administration. I love being out and about shaking hands and meeting people,” he said. “I truly love to serve the community.”
“ I want to thank the city council, city manager and chief Chote for the opportunity,” he said. “I want to thank my wife for making the adjustments with me.”