Fire chief looks back on first year

Published 10:27 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Toney Stephens has served as Selma Fire Department chief for almost a year.

Toney Stephens has served as Selma Fire Department chief for almost a year.

Selma Fire Department Chief Toney Stephens came to Selma in 2011 as a firefighter after retiring in Montgomery as captain.

Stephens said he came to the Queen City because he knew there was a need for firefighters and saw it as an opportunity for him to continue to serve the community, a service he has been doing for the past 26 years.

This coming September will mark the one-year anniversary of Stephens being appointed as fire chief.

“It has been truly been a blessing to be in this position and to work with these individuals,” Stephens said. “I’m looking forward to the next year and hopefully several years after that.”

Stephens said working on the administrative side of the department has been a learning experience, but he is happy to have been able to accomplish so much within the past year.

“We want to take the Selma Fire Department to a unique level,” Stephens said. “We want the Selma Fire Department to be the one that all the other fire departments look at and model themselves after.”

Establishing an exercise program, purchasing exercising clothing for all personnel, developing new standard operating guidelines, updating the firehouse living quarters, purchasing new hoses, purchasing water rescue kits, promoting seven firemen to sergeants and enhancing daily training are just a few goals the department has met since September.

“You can see we have been very, very busy,” Stephens said.

Stephens said some other major changes include the return of the fire lieutenant rank as well as the addition of new recruits.

“That’ll be the first time lieutenants have been here in this fire department in over 20 years,” Stephens said.

He said sergeants will have the opportunity to take the lieutenant exam on Thursday. Once the results are determined, the department will promote four to lieutenant later in September.

Also that month, three local and untrained recent hires will begin training at the Alabama Fire College.

“There’s still a lot more that we would like to be able to accomplish in the next year,” Stephens said.

In the future, Stephen said he hopes to work with the mayor and city council to obtain a pay raise study and eventually a pay raise for all fire department personnel.

“They are so deserving and in need of a good pay raise,” Stephens said. “It will also help Selma maintain these great guys who work so hard for the citizens. We have an excellent group of guys and we need to keep them here.”