By Dana Delgado
Liberty Hill firefighter Travis Watson didn’t have to look far for a career.
The Central Texas native grew up at the Hudson Bend Fire Station where his father, Bruce Watson, also a former Liberty Hill fire chief, was a legend with over 35 years of service as Chief. His grandfather had also been a firefighter as have many of his uncles.
Being a third generation firefighter had a good ring to it. It was a natural calling, a bloodline of sorts that would be hard to buck.
But Watson says he was having just that — second thoughts — when he was quarterbacking the Cedar Park Timberwolves to postseason appearances in his senior year. A 9-3 record that took through two rounds of the football playoffs was plenty to reflect on. He hoped to play for one of the service academies and have a career in the military.
After two years at Blinn College with an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science, Watson discovered why being a third generation firefighter was his calling. He said he found his 12-week academy training at the Texas A&M facility training to be challenging.
“It was very physically demanding,” he said. “And that facility is impressive. It is the largest training facility of its kind in the world.”
Since his training, he spent four plus years at the Jollyville Fire Department before joining the City of Georgetown Fire Department where he has been the last five years. About three years ago, he took a partial shift with Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 in Liberty Hill where he has been the driver for the big engine.
Watson has added other trainings to his firefighting portfolio. He has completed training and become certified as a Hazardous Materials Technician, a Swift Water Technician and Wild Land Firefighter.
“I just can’t learn enough,” he said “especially now that about 80 percent of our responses are medical emergencies.”
Watson said things have changed since the days of his grandfather.
“They didn’t do anything on the medical side,” he said. “And they didn’t have building codes, sprinklers or fire prevention programs in those days. They also didn’t have to contend with hybrid cars and their high voltage batteries.”
Watson said firefighting in Liberty Hill has its challenges.
“We have about 134 square mile of territory to cover,” he said. “Then there is the question of lack of water and hydrants as well as vegetation and driveway setbacks. At least the new subdivisions are better equipped with hydrants and have cleared vegetation away.”
The veteran firefighter says that he hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps and someday assume a leadership role. However, he has much to learn and achieve before then and needs to stay fit to endure the rigors of the profession.
“No question, this is a physically and mentally challenging job,” he said. “You need to take care of yourself and take your work seriously.”
To maintain that balance, Watson has begun Cross Fit training and has even earned his coaching certification. He says it helps him with his endurance, agility and strength and prepares him for “unknown” situations.