Few lays out plans for future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Just three days into his new position as fire chief, Ron Few laid out a series of changes and plans he has for the fire department during a press conference held on Wednesday.

Few said he plans to draft a list of assessments and recommendations to present to Director of Public Safety Jeff Manuel and Mayor Cecil P. Williamson within the next three months.

One of the first long-range changes Few envisions for the department is eventually becoming a Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, which would include a HAZMAT unit.

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When asked about a time frame for the change, Few said it was too soon to know.

Few said he doesn&8217;t, however, plan on waiting on the city to come up with the funds for such a project. He said he plans to seek outside sources of income to make changes.

A large part of Few&8217;s new plans includes reorganizing the department and possibly making some major staffing changes, which may include the creation of an assistant chief position.

In regards to how to obtain qualified firefighters for the position, Few said he plans to look within the department at the current ranking officers, including Capt. Tommy Tate.

Other potential positions for the department, Few said, include an officer designated to the fire marshal&8217;s office, who would coordinate inspections, take care of life safety issues and manage a potential fire education program.

Few said he also hopes to add a special operations officer, who could handle training. His kind of training, however, may be different than what the department has become accustomed to in the past.

Another aspect of Few&8217;s plans is to take a critical look at the staffing levels and assess the department&8217;s different needs, but, as he understands it, the department is already in a process of hiring new firefighters.

Few said he also plans to take a close look at the department&8217;s policies and procedures and possibly change some of them to promote fairness.

One of Few&8217;s primary concerns, he said, is keeping the department in line with the direction of the city&8217;s growth.

Few said he is not concerned with gaining the support of the firefighters, because he views himself as a &8220;firefighters&8217; chief.&8221;

Firefighter James Bailey said he thinks Few has some good ideas.

Bailey said that many of Few&8217;s plans were in line with what the department already had in the works.

Justin King, one of the newest members of the DFD, said he is glad to have someone in place.

Firefighter Jimmie Day agreed that Few&8217;s ideas seem to be good.

&8220;Plans he&8217;s got for equipment and uniforms seem to be wanting to move us in a positive direction, and anything positive you can always look forward to,&8221; he said.

In regard to Few&8217;s plans for training initiatives, Day said that they are already a large part of the department.

Few said he hopes to meet with all the firefighters in the new future and listen to their ideas about the department.