ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - Altus firefighters say morale is very high after former interim chief Joe Buchanan dropped the interim title and fully took over the department going forward.
Chief Buchanan, who was named interim chief back in July, joined the department in 1990 and said he never actually had any aspirations to be chief. When he took over a few months ago, there were some issues going on within the department and he took the job simply because he said it's what the guys at the station wanted. Since then, he's taken a liking to the job and decided to fully take on the role going forward.
Chief Buchanan said it took some time to get acclimated to the job.
"There’s a huge learning curve to the job, finding files, knowing what to do, what order to do stuff in. I’ve took to it and it’s done alright,” Buchanan said.
Despite the fact that he’s enjoyed the job, it’s not one Buchanan ever saw himself taking.
"I never aspired to be a fire chief, never really thought about it. Every position I took, I just thought it was time to take it and the fire chief being the same way,” Buchanan.
Buchanan said he believes he’s a chief that can work hand-in-hand with each firefighter to fill the needs of the department.
"I like to think I’m a compassionate leader. I listen to the guys, if you’ve got trouble, we’re in trouble together. Let’s see what we can do to fix it. I’m not a pushover but I don’t try to do anything that’s bad for the men or bad for the department. The way to lead is to lead for the department and for the men,” Buchanan said.
Lieutenant Neil Bonds said so far, the leadership style is working as morale between the guys is very high, which allows them to better serve the community.
"We’re a brotherhood up here, we’re close, we eat together, we live together, we see bad situations together so for us to all be on the same page and moving in the same direction is very important in the fire service and in the community,” Bonds said.
Buchanan said going forward, training will be a big focus in Altus.
"We’ve got a super department and you’ve just got to keep training. These days and times with all the technology, you have to train all the time just to stay afloat in this business. We’re just going to have a good time, take care of the citizens, take care of business and stay after it,” Buchanan said.
One of the first bits of good news Chief Buchanan got to deliver to the department was about a new fire engine, which is replacing one that Buchanan said they’ve had since he first joined the department in 1990.