By Traci Chapman
Retirement didn’t last long for former Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman, who last week was named State Fire Marshal.
The fact the state agency pursued Hickman, who served Mustang for 12 years and retired in 2017, didn’t surprise those who knew and worked with him, they said.
“It’s always flattering to an organization when staff that retires after years of public service is sought after to assist on an even larger scale,” Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney said Friday. “Carl was instrumental in lowering our ISO rating to a ‘2,’ resulting in thousands of dollars being saved on commercial insurance premiums in Mustang – I would anticipate that he will continue his impeccable efforts at the state level as well.”
Hickman was named interim state fire marshal in October after Sam Schafnitt retired, officials said. Schafnitt held the position for more than 14 years.
Oklahoma Fire Marshal Commission made the appointment permanent effective Sept. 4, officials said.
“Fire Marshal Hickman will continue to assist the agency by providing his invaluable knowledge and experience obtained from his lifelong dedication to the fire service,” Trisha Chain with Oklahoma State Firefighters Association stated in an online post last week. “We look forward to continuing our work with Fire Marshal Hickman to strengthen the Oklahoma fire service!
Hickman joined Mustang Fire Department in 2005. Just prior to his retirement officials learned of that ISO rating, which placed the city in the top three percent of municipalities across the country. During his tenure Hickman also amassed a wide variety of accomplishments an annual fire prevention show that this year saw 18 million social media hits and national attention; and a staff some other area fire chiefs consider to be among the best in Oklahoma, if not beyond.
That staff includes Chief Craig Carruth, who took charge of the department in December 2017 and who, officials said, has continued work that constantly makes the city safer and MFD more efficient, officials said.
While many in Mustang consider the outgoing chief a Mustang native, Hickman actually graduated from Sulphur High School, before attending Oklahoma State University. He returned to Sulphur for his first job, working as a firefighter for four years and as Sulphur Fire Department chief for another four. Hickman then worked as an Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s office agent for three years, before returning to Sulphur for another 12-year stint as its chief.
While in Mustang, Hickman accomplished something shared by only 961 of his peers internationally at the time – his designation as chief fire officer by the Commission on Professional
Credentialing. It was just one aspect of a man who led a department that is looking toward a bright future made possible, in large part, by the man who led it, Rooney said.
“We could talk a long time about Chief Hickman – what he’s accomplished, all he’s done, the staff he’s built and the friends he has not just here, but everywhere he goes,” Rooney said in an interview for a 2015 profile about the chief. “But, to me the thing is – Carl Hickman has a heart bigger than that giant flag they fly during special events, and that’s something that’s very, very rare.”