Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

March 12, 2014

Hanging up his helmet

MWFD Captain Roddy Coquat hangs up gear to pursue other endeavors


Mineral Wells Index

By TYLER MASK

tmask@mineralwellsindex.com

 

Looking back over his 25 years of service with the Mineral Wells Fire Department, Mineral Wells Fire Captain Roddy Coquat has truly enjoyed his time on the clock. Although he has put out the fire on his career with MWFD, his fire is far from burning out.

 

Coquat hung up his gear for the last time on Feb. 28, but he remains very active. He was in Costa Rica surfing just last week and taught a fire class last night.

 

Coquat was born and raised in Three Rivers, Texas. When he left Three Rivers, he pursued college rodeo at Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, Texas. He spent nearly two years there before heading to the University of Texas, where he remained only for a semester. After the first semester, Coquat had gained enough money to receive his professional card in rodeo.

 

“[I went] all across the country then,” Coquat said. “I thought I was a big time. I went to the professional ranks in 1974, and became a member of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association and then went all over the United States until the early 1980s.”

 

Marriage finally brought Coquat home. For a period of time, he remained in the rodeo, but only around Texas until 1991.

 

After Coquat's competitive rodeo career came to halt, he needed to find an outlet that was as freeing and adventurous as his bull riding days.

 

“I wanted an outside job,” Coquat said. “I didn't want a desk job, and I was trying to think of something good.”

 

Through the years, he had several friends who tried to convince him to start a career in firefighting. During this time of searching, Coquat got back in touch with his old pals and decided on going to fire school.

 

“I set that as a plan, and, luckily, got into a fire school in Forth Worth,” Coquat said.

 

The school Coquat landed at was former Tarrant County Junior college. He was fire class 16 of 1988.

 

Once he graduated, he went around to many local fire departments. During his search, on the same day, Coquat was offered jobs at both Mineral Wells and Weatherford fire departments. Coquat chose Mineral Wells.

 

At the time, Coquat recalls Mineral Wells paying more, but to make things even better, he also new Mineral Wells would be less stringent on his rodeo-worn body.

 

“I still had some rodeo injuries,” Coquat said. “They wouldn't let me sign the dotted line [in Weatherford] before I had a physical. When I came [to Mineral Wells], they said, 'The job is yours.'”

 

At this time, Coquat was 35, which is the cut off age for getting hired in firefighting, Coquat said.

 

While working at MWFD, Coquat resumed schooling at the renamed Tarrant County College to become a fire instructor on the college level. He finished his degree at Weatherford College and has been an instructor with them since 1999 and is still teaching.

 

“I was one of the original instructors with the Weatherford Fire Academy.” Coquat said. “I am the only original that is still working for them – 14 years.”

 

But 1999 wasn't only the year he started teaching; he also began judging rodeos, which he does to this day.

 

“I judge pretty much anywhere in the country – judging college and professional rodeo,” Coquat said.

 

He also raises blue heelers as another side job and does art, making Christmas cards every year. 

 

To say that he is truly retiring would be a misconception.

 

Though he was ready to end his journey as a firefighter, Coquat said he will miss the people he worked with and loved every chance he had to impact people's lives.

 

“I'll plagiarize the fire chief – we have one of the few jobs where everyday we go to work, we can take somebody's worst day and make it better,” Coquat said.

 

Though Coquat's plate may still seem full to many, he is going to use his spare time to pursue some of his passions including traveling, surfing and chilling at the Dominical in Costa Rica.

 

“[I am looking forward to] traveling – seeing places that I went to whenever I was rodeoing but didn't have time to actually go around the towns and see their history,” Coquat said. “And obviously some fun in the sun.”