Longest-serving volunteer fire chief in Mississippi retires

Chief Ron Witte encourages others to answer the call

LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – The longest-serving volunteer fire chief in Mississippi is retiring, and he has a challenge for those who want to make their communities better.

Chief Ron Witte may have retired in March, but most days he is still at the Mooreville-Eggville Volunteer  Fire Department, checking the equipment.

And answering calls.

“Right now I’m mostly making runs and doing reports,” Witte said.

The 69-year-old has served as chief since 1981. Witte helped start the Mooreville-Eggville VFD in 1975 when he moved to the area from up north. Over the years, Witte worked in the furniture industry while guiding the Mooreville-Eggville VFD through growth.  The fire department began in this building but now works out of four locations throughout its 98-square-mile coverage area.

One constant has been the need to recruit volunteer firefighters.

“We try and gain at least two a year if we can, it’s hard, people all up and say, ‘Hey, I want to be on the department, how much does it pay?’ It doesn’t work that way,” he said.

Both of Witte’s daughters answered the call, after seeing their Dad’s example through the years.

“As I got older, we would respond with him. Mama would work nights and we would go with him to the fire. Tiffy would be in the car seat in the Engine. I’d be on the other side, and Dad would say ‘Don’t move, y’all stay in here.’ I was born and raised in the fire service all my life,” said Stacie Graham.

Other members of the Mooreville-Eggville VFD said they have also learned a lot from the chief.

“You can look at our run sheets from year to year and there’s nobody that makes more runs or calls than he does. He’s the first one to arrive and last one to leave,” said Patrick Graham who is a training officer for the Mooreville-Eggville VFD.

“Mr. Ron has been a huge inspiration to me with the VFD. Leadership is amazing. Couldn’t ask for a better chief,” said Kirk Green, one of the newest to join the VFD.

“Mostly keeping the community safe. People look up to you. I’ve kept going and pushing and I enjoy it. You learn a lot. Every day is a different learning experience,” Witte said.

For those wanting to thank the chief for his service, a reception is set for Saturday afternoon at Auburn Baptist Church. It’s an opportunity to honor the chief and also for folks to learn more about how they can make a difference as a volunteer firefighter.

That reception is from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the family life center at Auburn Baptist Church.

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