01/23/07 — New city fire chief takes oath

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New city fire chief takes oath

By Lee Williams
Published in News on January 23, 2007 1:51 PM

Alvin Ward isn't naive.

Hired to replace the well-respected Goldsboro Fire Chief Bobby Greenfield, who retired last month, Ward knows he has big shoes to fill.

With 18 years under his belt, Ward has learned a thing or two about the fire service and he plans to use his training and experience to expand on Greenfield's legacy at the Goldsboro Fire Department.

"I want to bring in new ideas and build on what (Greenfield's) already put in place," Ward said.

A total of 20 applicants applied for the position. Ward was selected out of four candidates who were brought in for interviews, said Pamela Leake, the city's human resources director.

City Manager Joe Huffman would not release the names of the other top candidates, saying the law prohibits release of the information.

Ward's position comes with a starting salary of $75,000, plus medical benefits and life insurance. Ward's predecessor made $69,596.80, plus benefits at retirement, Leake said.

Ward, a 40-year-old Kinston native, was sworn in today as the city's new fire chief. However, his official first day was Jan. 16.

Ward, a married father of five and a grandfather of one, rested calmly in his chair during a face-to-face interview, but his brown eyes danced with his excitement as he unveiled his plans for the department.

Goldsboro Fire Department budget is $4.3 million. And topping his list of priorities, Ward plans to find ways to reduce or maintain costs by forging relationships with non-profit agencies, working with other municipal and volunteer fire departments and searching for federal and state grant funds to pay for personnel, equipment and increase firefighter safety, just to name a few.

"These may be some things Goldsboro may be already doing," Ward said.

Ward also would like to work with the local college as a way to increase firefighter training and lower the city's Insurance Services Organization Class 5 rating. The rating is used to establish property insurance rates.

"Goldsboro doesn't have a training center," Ward said. "I would like to work with Wayne Community College to do more training and build a public safety center, which could help improve the ISO rating."

Ward, a former fire marshal for Chapel Hill, said the department from which he hails has a Class 3 ISO rating.

"I was involved in Chapel Hill's recent rating," Ward said. "I focused on the training side, but being a part of the command staff, I also assisted in the overall rating."

Ward said he also plans to focus on injury prevention and to bring more diversity to the 80-plus man department.

"Diversity is a big issue with me and I believe the fire department should represent the community," Ward said. "Non-profit agencies could help as a recruiting tool."

The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University grad knows change won't happen overnight, but he's ready to hit the ground running. His main objective is to be a listener, an observer and a team player and not a dictator.

"When we break the word team down we are saying Together Everyone Achieves More," Ward said. "The fire service is not about I, it's about we as a team. My goal is to capitalize on people's strengths."

Ward said he plans to assess the fire department's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

"Chief Greenfield has left the department in good standing, but there are always opportunities," Ward said.