City Manager Trey Yelverton has appointed Bret Stidham, a 30-year professional firefighter with Dallas Fire-Rescue, as the City of Arlington’s new fire chief and director of emergency management.
Stidham has served as second-in-command with Dallas Fire-Rescue since 2019 and was assistant fire chief of emergency operations and special operations there for two years prior. On Aug. 7, Stidham will begin leading Arlington’s 399-person Fire Department and 113-person 911 Dispatch Center. Assistant Fire Chief Jonathan Ingols will continue to serve as the department’s interim fire chief until then.
Following Fire Chief Don Crowson’s announcement that he was retiring after a 40-year career, nearly 50 public safety professionals from across the country applied for the role. Earlier this month, Stidham and four other fire chief candidates engaged in a series of panel interviews that included a diverse group of the City’s executive leadership team, Arlington Professional Fire Fighters Association representatives, and business leaders. They also participated in a forum where community members were able to ask the candidates questions directly.
“Chief Stidham stood out in a very robust selection process and everyone we spoke with who had the chance to work with him in the City of Dallas had nothing but glowing remarks about his leadership, skills and ability to collaborate,” Yelverton said.
Stidham said he is looking forward to beginning his career in Arlington, which is home to nearly 400,000 residents and draws more than 14 million visitors each year.
“I feel like my 30-year career has led me to this moment. There’s a lot going on in Arlington – it’s a destination city and a city on the grow,” said Stidham, who said he grew up in North Texas and has visited Arlington for Rangers and Cowboys games, days at Six Flags Over Texas and other activities throughout his life. “This is a fire chief’s dream job, to be honest.”
Stidham’s experience includes 15 years instructing firefighters at Tarrant County College, Collin College and Dallas Fire-Rescue as well as serving as rescue team manager for Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2. He has many years of operational experience running multiple large incidents and management teams, including a federal medical station that treated Covid-19 patients and a mass vaccination site that provided more than 30,000 Covid-19 vaccinations during the pandemic. In 2018, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Operations for the State of Texas during Hurricane Harvey and was embedded with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Incident Support Team and the Houston Fire command staff, managing operations for all rescue personnel.
Stidham said he saw a “tremendous spirit among the men and women that work at the Arlington Fire Department” when touring several of the City’s fire stations during the interview process.
“You can see the passion they have for the department, for the city, and the fire service,” Stidham said. “I’m very excited about this opportunity, getting out and meeting the men and women of the department, and listening. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running.”
Stidham holds numerous certifications, including being a Texas Fire Chiefs Association Certified Fire Executive. In addition to graduating as a rescue specialist from Texas A&M University, Stidham holds an Associate of Applied Science in fire administration from Weatherford College, a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in fire administration from Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas.