Leader, innovator, and community-focused are the words first responders across Ellis County use to remember David Hopkins, who served as the Ennis Fire Chief from 1986—2011.
He passed away on June 5.
In his role at the fire department, Hopkins was tasked with providing emergency services to save lives and protect property. He strived to equip firefighters with knowledge, training, and tools to carry out this monumental task.
Ennis Fire Chief Jeff Aycock stated Hopkins' contribution to the city and Ellis County would not be soon forgotten.
“One of his legacies is on the side of our fire truck, which is a saying that says ‘protecting the past, planning the future.’ He was always very protective of the past and protective of the culture. He was always planning for the future also,” Aycock said. “We will carry on the legacy that he helped to start. We will protect our past and plan our future. He was a big part of that.”
Aycock explained when Hopkins came to Ennis he helped to modernize the department’s operations with the latest innovations such as large diameter hoses and better personal protective equipment for firefighters. Hopkins helped the department purchase its first ladder truck in 1987.
“He was really a good guy to work with and was a good boss. He gave you the freedom to work,” Aycock said. He moved us into a different age and moved us to a progressive type of department.”
Freddy Santos Sr., a retired Ennis Fire Department inspector, stated Hopkins had the heart for his firefighters, the community he served and was a man of faith.
“He met and prayed on Wednesdays for almost 13 years. We prayed for the city manager, the community, and clergymen there in Ennis,” Santos said. “He was a very faithful prayer warrior.”
Santos stated Hopkins worked to get the resources for his firefighters to do their jobs successfully. One of the first steps Hopkins made was to change the way the department received emergency calls.
“When he came to Ennis we did not have a 911 system and that was one of the things he worked to get implemented,” Santos recalled. “At the time, without the 911 system, we were running a lot of false alarms.”
Santos stated before the 911 system the department would receive emergency calls through a dedicated phone line that would be answered both by the fire and police departments. This change helped to improve service to residents.
David Hudgins, a retired Waxahachie Fire Chief, said Hopkins was a dedicated professional who strived to give the best to the city.
“David was a very professional man. He was very, very safety conscience. He had taken the Ennis job maybe six to eight months before I came to Waxahachie and was one of the ones I went to visit to get a feel of the area when I got here,” Hudgins said. “At that time, that was the only paid department around. We helped each other on mutual aid calls because, during the daytime, most of the volunteer departments did not have the manpower. We developed a good working relationship.”
Hudgins stated Hopkins worked hard to find a way to provide a high level of service to the city.
“David was always trying to improve the service over there. There were some very lean years in this part of the country. He was very creative in the things that he did,” Hudgins stated. “I think that community will really miss David because of what he did for the city.”
Ben Blanton, Red Oak Assistant Fire Chief, stated Hopkins was always willing to lend a hand when and where he could.
“He was a person that dedicated his life to the fire service. I think that he will be greatly missed,” Blanton said. “I (worked) with him a little bit being down there at Navarro College. He was always willing to help out the fire academy and the future of the fire service in any way the Ennis fire department could.”
The visitation for Hopkins will be held from 10 – 11 a.m. June 16 at J.E. Keever Mortuary Chapel at 308 North Dallas Street. The service will be held at 11 a.m. following the visitation.