McMinnville Fire Department Capt. Phil Mitchell isn’t keen on talking in length about himself. Even though Mitchell is retiring this month, he repeatedly repositions the spotlight on his department.
“It’s not about one person as an individual. It’s about this department as a whole and they do a great job supporting the citizens of McMinnville and its visitors,” said Mitchell. “They take care of them no matter the situation.”
After retiring from the Marine Corps, Mitchell became a fireman in July of 1997 because it was an open job. Since then, he explained the position has changed in many ways.
“After 9/11, the fire department has had to become the jack-of-all-trades,” said Mitchell. “Before it was mainly fire suppression, but now we are running medical calls, utility emergences … the full gamut with up to 175 calls a month.”
When asked about his funniest memory, Mitchell briefly described his first call to search for a duck. Although it was a surprising call, he succeeded in his search-and-find mission. After 21 years as a fireman, Mitchell has responded to a wide variety of calls.
“Phil is a good guy and I hate to see him go,” said Fire Chief Kendall Mayfield. “He taught me how to be a better man, how to talk to the guys, to think about what I’m going to say before I say it and to get all the info before I act on anything.”
Mitchell says he is going to miss the comradery, but that he looks forward to more family time. As for his plans for the future, Mitchell hopes to become more involved in the veteran community.
“I have no plans other than just getting to stuff that I haven’t had time or made the time to do …. not having to go outside when it’s cold,” said Mitchell with a smile. “McMinnville is definitely my home and the next time I move it will probably be to High’s.”
Mitchell’s last official day is Dec. 21. In parting, Mitchell encourages our community to keep supporting the members of McMinnville Fire Department, even if it’s just a kind word.
Replacing Mitchell as McMinnville Fire Department captain will be Martin White.