Jacksonville fire chief retires, now opening up BBQ joint

Jacksonville fire chief retires, now opening up BBQ joint

POSTED: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 9:00pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 9:14pm

After more than 40 years of fighting fires, Jacksonville fire chief Paul White is retiring. But, he's not going into full retirement mode just yet. He's pursuing another passion of his, running a restaurant.

White,66, never thought he would be retiring from the firefighting world.

"Firemen have relatives in the fire service. It's kind of a tradition. A lot of families, generations of firemen, in my case that's not true. I didn't know any firemen," said White.

His aspiration was to enlist in the military, but his dreams changed when his friend talked to him about the fire department.

"I was interested in the military at the time and he encouraged me if you're interested in the military, you'll be interested in the fire department."

He worked in Houston for more than 21 years, then moved on to San Angelo, Tyler, Irving and finally spent the last 5 1/2 years of his career in Jacksonville.

He retired once before, but now says this time, it's for good.

"I don't think I'll be going back after this one. I'm getting a little old (laughs) I don't think they will hire a 66 -year-old fire chief," said White.

"He's had a lot of experience, so it was nice as younger guys to hear all the things he's done in the past and how much the fire industry has changed," said Jacksonville firefighter Travis Ford.

Ford said chief White has been a great role model at the station and he'll be greatly missed.

But, White is ready to embrace the new chapter of his life, opening a restaurant in Edom called Chief's Firehouse BBQ.

''Looking forward to the next chapter, it's going to be exciting."

His hobby is building with logs. For the past three years, on the weekends, White built his restaurant. He's had a restaurant before but this time, all they're going to serve is a limited BBQ menu. Even though he's ready to close the firefighter chapter of his life, he's going to miss the station.

"I'm going to miss the excitement of responding to actual fires. I feel with the fireman being at the station, being around the same guys all the time, I'll kind of miss that. I think the restaurant will make up for that," said White.

The restaurant will be decorated with a lot of White's old fire gear. In the dining area he will have old pictures and plaques, some fire pictures, old helmets and a variety of other mementos.

White said he still wants to enjoy retirement and travel with his wife, so the restaurant will only be open on Fridays and Saturdays.

He plans on opening the restaurant July 18.

Ford and the rest of the guys are also excited for chief White's new adventure.

"He's been doing the fire service for a long long time and I know he's excited to start a restaurant with his wife. We're proud of him and we can't wait to go over there and check it out and eat from time to time, hopefully he gives us a discount (laughs)," said Ford.

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