Meet Our Fire Chief


Jeff McNeel


Fire Chief

“I love my family, which now includes 4 generations. I love God, and believe we all have a plan and purpose for our life. I love helping others, and being part of a team committed to making a difference. I believe leadership is more about encouraging, empowering, and partnering with others, and less about titles, bugles, and positions. I also believe in our values within the department. The Values of Community, Integrity, Excellence and Team are the best guide towards fulfilling our mission.”

Where are you from originally and what brought you to Lumberton?

I have lived in Southeast Texas all of my life. I served for over 36 years at Beaumont Fire. Prior to retiring, my wife and I looked for a home where deer and rabbits wandered through the neighborhood, and crickets and fireflies kept you company as you enjoyed a cup of coffee on your porch. We found that place just North of the Village Creek State Park and it has been home for the past 8 years. Shortly after my retirement I learned Lumberton Fire EMS was looking for a Fire Chief. The Board looked beyond resume’s and seemed to be focused on the team we could build internally, and the relationships we could build externally. That is what drew me into this organization, and what has fueled my passion to stay and be part of something much bigger than myself.

What inspired you to become a medic/What attracted you to this career choice?

As a kid I wanted to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Motocross Racer, Police Officer, Garbage Man, and the next Jacques Cousteau. It wasn’t until I was about to finish high school that a Firefighter approached me and said, “You should put in your application with Beaumont.” A few months after graduating, I was in Lamar’s Fire Academy and working for Beaumont. The excitement of emergency response along with the sense of family and the commitment to service was the perfect combination for my start of a career that would last my entire adult life.

How long have you been with HCESD2 and what motivated you to work here?

I started with Hardin County ESD 2 in October of 2015. I was first intrigued by the uniqueness of a Combination Department of Volunteers, Part-Time and Full-Time employees. One challenge within Hardin County is limited resources, especially when compared to more industrialized areas. However, what there isn’t a shortage of is compassion, ingenuity, commitment, and neighbor helping neighbor. We have weathered the “Harvey’s” by the team focused attitude. From the County Judge Wayne McDaniel, Sheriff Mark Davis, and Police Chief Danny Sullins, area Fire Departments, and other local agencies, Hardin County works together to serve. Lumberton Fire EMS embodies that precept, “we are here to serve.”

What is your favorite part about working here at HCESD2?

My favorite part of being a part of this team is “we don’t have to do it the way it has always been done.” I love the Legacy of Service that those who are the best of our profession have built before us. That is the kind of tradition I buy into. I also deeply appreciate critical thinking, innovation, creativity, and problem solving that keeps us safe, effective, relevant, and early adopters of best practices. Here, I truly believe we can be both, honoring our tradition and raising the bar for future generations.

If you had guests visiting SETX for the weekend, where is the first place you would take them?

Most people that visit either stop by for a tour of the station, or come over for a home cooked meal. I love my church, Praise Church, and to connect my faith with family and friends. Eclectic Coffee Shop and Hard Bean Coffee both offer great caffeinated choices. When I feel like breaking the camera out, a field trip to Shangri La has never disappointed.

What is your favorite restaurant in town?

Picking a favorite when there are so many great ones is hard, but grabbing a complimentary ice cream on top of a banana pudding at Catfish Cabin is pretty sweet.

What do you do on your days off to relax and unwind?

Drinking coffee and sitting in the rocking chairs with my wife, running with my daughter-in-law, bicycling with my son, adventure with my daughter, games, crafts and jokes with my grand daughter, and what ever my grandson wants to do when he says, “Papa, here.”

Who inspires you?

Anyone who gives with no expectations. I especially admire those that give out of lack, the “widow’s mite” so to speak, and seeing that small gift grow into little miracles.

What is the next place you would like to visit? Why?

Disney. I was never able to take my kids there. Now, I want to experience it with my kids and grandkids. Three generations of awe, wonder, fun and excitement does sound magical.

Word of advice for an aspiring medic?

Start with and always continue with an attitude to learn. Commit to doing this line of work not for a paycheck but rather for a passion to serve. Understand there will be incredibly hard days, but people will be better because you walked through those times with them. And lastly I would have to quote Mother Theresa, “We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Interested in a career with HCESD2? Contact our Recruiting team at or give us a call at 409-755-6031.

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This publication features HCESD2 work culture and the lives of our medics. 

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