Altus Interim Fire Chief speaks about promotion, expectations in new leadership role

Altus Interim Fire Chief speaks about promotion, expectations in new leadership role

ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - The City of Altus has a new interim fire chief, after the former chief received a vote of no confidence, and chose to retire.

Altus Mayor Jack Smiley said retired chief Kyle Davis did a good job while serving as the fire chief, but he was excited the city chose to promote his interim replacement Joe Buchanan, who he hired while serving as assistant fire chief 30 years ago.

Two Altus Firefighters say the change is already positively impacting the department.

Joe Buchanan said this promotion happened extremely fast, and it wasn’t something he even wanted to do.

“It was a little scary at first, this wasn’t a job I aspired too. I chose to step up, and help the department move forward,” said Buchanan.

Even though Buchanan has been with the department for three decades, he said he will have to get used to this new leadership role where he wont have to run on every call.

“That’s my life’s blood, is to listen to the alarms, and go help the citizens. But I believe I can help the citizens from this role also,” said Buchanan.

Altus Mayor Jack Smiley said Buchanan’s previous experience makes him a great fit for interim chief.

“There’s an assistant chief on each shift, there is three shifts, and Joe was the senior assistant chief, and is very well respected by the men, and i’m sure he will do a great job,” said Mayor Smiley.

For firefighters now under Buchanan’s command, they said this change is something they were hoping for.

“I’m excited there’s a new chief, and he’s doing great so far, and really taking care of us," said Altus firefighter Philip Shaver.

“Just showing up to work everyday, the morale is definitely a lot better now than it was," said Altus firefighter Dylan Pryor.

Pryor said having a new fire chief is helping push the department closer together.

“In this line of work, you have to know everybody has your back, and that starts from the top and goes all the way to the bottom. We have to have each other’s back every day, every call we go on, so I feel like everyone is more confident in that now,” said Pryor.

Pryor said he’s happy the department chose someone they already had a relationship with.

“It’s hard going from being one of the guys on the shift to being the boss over everybody, but being a person from within the department, they already know how we operate, and how things are done here,” said Pryor.

Buchanan said despite the lack of preparation, he is ready to continue keeping the Altus community safe.

“I’m a big believer in the fire department, I love the department and I want to see it do well. I believe I can achieve great things as chief, but we will just have to see," said Buchanan.

Buchanan still has to finish out his 90 day trial period, and during that time, he said not only does the city have to like the work he’s doing, but he has to decide if the new job is something he wants to continue.

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