June 15--Former Fire Chief Ron Edwards was recently picked to lead the Clovis Fire Department again after the retirement of Fire Chief Ray Westerman.
Edwards, who joined the fire department in 1973, served as chief from March 2003 until October 2004.
Edwards also served one term as a city commissioner from 2006 to 2010 and spent 12 years in the Air Force.
Is there anything you plan to change as fire chief? What will remain the same?
Almost everything will stay the same. We'll just tweak a few things here and there and that's pretty much it. It's in great shape right now except for qualified personnel. We're scheduled 23 people per shift as far as shift personnel and we're almost full but the problem is that we're hurting at the mid-management level and we're trying to get more lieutenants and drivers for the trucks. We're trying to get that to where we can get back to normal.
What experiences and qualifications have prepared you for this position?
Long story here. I walked out of the gate at Cannon Air Force Base in 1973 with a wife and three kids and I didn't have a job after 12 years in the Air Force. I was still floundering around and figuring out what I wanted to do in life. The good lord works in strange ways and he directed me to the Clovis Fire Department and the next day I was hired.
My wife asked me after three shifts here, 'how's the new job?' and I said, 'you know its kind of sad when you're 31-years-old in life before you find out what you want to do' and she says, 'consider yourself lucky, some people will never find out.'
I went to work here and it became a passion. I started out as a basic firefighter and worked my way up to driver, lieutenant, captain, assistant chief and finally chief over 31 years. I retired basically because of medical problems in the family. Not my medical problems, but we did have medical problems in the family. I also had a couple of trips to the National Fire Academy. Fire fighting is just one of those things that you grow up with and learn as you go along and learn people. I deal well with people within the fire department and that's my main forte. It's (my qualifications are) based on experience more than anything else.
What does the position of fire chief mean to you personally?
I think my function is to come up with the resources for the people that do their job and to be the final decision maker. Sometimes we would like for people in the fire department to be part of the solution, but there's times when the fire chief has to make the decision. The main function of the fire chief is to guide the people in the right direction, make sure they get the training to do their job, and have the equipment they need to do their job. I believe that's what the fire chief job is.
What is the biggest issue for the fire department and how will you address it?
We are having issues with psychological transfers to Albuquerque and things of that nature. That's been addressed by the past chief and will probably be addressed by the next chief also. That's a huge issue for us, but really the mid management people is what we're hurting for and we're trying to get those people trained as quickly as we can.
You were a city commissioner for one term. How will your experience with city government influence you as fire chief?
It will help my thought process. I dealt with the city commission a lot before I became an elected official and it will surely help my thought process. It will help as far as knowing what the city commission wants from the fire department.
Copyright 2014 - Clovis News Journal, N.M.