TEXAS CITY — David Zacherl’s career as a firefighter began when he began scrubbing firetruck tires that were taller than he was.
His father had been a fire chief, and his uncles and grandfather had been volunteer firefighters. When he was growing up, Zacherl would go to the firehouse on the weekends to help.
“It was a volunteer department in a small community, and everybody pitched in,” Zacherl said.
He began at age 4 or 5 by cleaning the tires because that was all he could reach, Zacherl said. As he grew taller, he moved his way up to the compartments and the pump panel.
“On the weekends, when it was truck cleaning day, you went down, and each of the kids had a job to do,” he said.
Five decades later, Zacherl, 54, doesn’t have to clean the tires anymore.
He recently was promoted to Texas City fire chief. He has been with the department for three decades.
Zacherl is the first chief to be promoted from within the fire department’s ranks in the past 24 years. He is taking over for Joseph “Brud” Gorman, who retired after six years with the Texas City Fire Department.
Zacherl grew up in Leeper, Penn. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and moved to Texas City after he was done with his service.
He had a job with the power company. Zacherl said he had wanted to volunteer with the local fire department and learned firefighters in Texas City were paid employees.
“I thought about that for a couple days,” Zacherl said.
It wouldn’t take long for Zacherl, who was 22, to sign up. He knew even from his first days in the academy he eventually wanted to be chief.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “Everyday I come to work ready to do something.”
With a long history of service with Texas City, Zacherl said he hopes to serve as fire chief for at least another decade.
“I like the community,” Zacherl said. “I enjoy working here.”