Fire chief selection growing closer

Published 9:48 am Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The search for the next Selma Fire Department (SFD) Chief will take another step this week.

At its Monday work session, Selma City Council President Corey Bowie said the committee formed to interview the candidates would meet Wednesday at 4 p.m.  at Selma City Hall to formulate interview questions and to begin interviews next Wednesday and Thursday.

Times for interviews have not been decided yet, and will be decided at the committee meeting on Wednesday, according to Bowie.

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“Hopefully if we feel comfortable with it we can move forward to top three candidates, and the council will move forward and select one from there,” Bowie said.

Among those applying for the top spot is SFD Acting Chief Chris Graham, who has been leading the department since former SFD Chief Toney Stephens retired earlier this year.

Graham, who has been with the department for more than two decades, was named Fireman of the Year by the American Legion in 2010 after former SFD Chief Mike Stokes nominated him following a daring rescue of three children from a burning home.

Other local firefighters vying for the top spot include Alton Green, Willie Mason, Walter Dailey, Ernest Donaldson, Gabriel Sharpe and Franklin Edwards.

Green, who is currently retired, served as a sergeant with the department from 1997 until 2002, before being promoted to captain and then being named Battalion Chief by former Selma Mayor George Evans in 2009.

In 2008, Green was named Firefighter of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of Selma.

Mason is a fire investigator that has worked in the department for more than 16 years, while also proctoring firefighter’s exams and teaching classes of recruits for the Alabama Fire College.

Mason earned a Fire Science degree from Columbia Southern University, an Associate of Arts and Science from Wallace Community College – Selma (WCCS) and, most recently, a Bachelor of Business from Troy University.

Dailey is a lieutenant with the SFD and has been with the department for more than a decade, having previously served as a fire instructor, Rapid Intervention Team member and firefighter with the Alabama Fire College.

Donaldson, previously with the Clayton County Fire Department in Georgia, is a current firefighter with the SFD, and Sharpe is currently a captain, apparatus operator and safety officers with the SFD.

Edwards is also a captain with the SFD, having previously served as a firefighter and engineer with department between 2001 and 2010, but has experience in law enforcement, having served as Chief of Police in Uniontown and working as a police officer in Demopolis.

The only candidate from beyond Selma looking to lead the SFD is Shane Phillips, currently a certified flight paramedic with Air Methods Air Medical Transport and the Southeast Shelby Rescue in Columbiana.

From 2011 to 2017, Phillips was chief of the Orange Beach Fire Department, where he oversaw five stations and 73 firefighters, and from 2005 until 2011 he served as chief of the Seneca Fire Department in South Carolina, where he oversaw 33 firefighters and 15 volunteers.

Before that, he served as chief of the McNairy County Fire Department in Selmer, Tennessee, and chief of the Harpersville Fire Department, as well as earlier stints as a firefighter and paramedic in the Birmingham area.