By Bonnie Culverhouse
Former Fire District 7 Chief Brian Williams has traded one chief’s hat for another.
Williams was approved as Minden Fire Department’s new chief, taking the place of retired chief Kip Mourad. Minden City Council voted 4-1 to grant Williams the position at Monday’s council meeting, with an abstention by District B Councilman Levon “Charlie” Thomas. Thomas declined to give a reason for his abstention.
“My vision is to take what the City of Minden has and move it forward,” Williams told the council in a public workshop and interview Thursday. “To elevate it.”
At age 43, Williams recently retired after 23 years as a firefighter and emergency medical technician, the past 12 as chief of Fire District 7 in Dixie Inn. He is a 1997 graduate of Doyline High School.
“All my life I’ve been in public service,” Williams said. “I’ve tried to hold myself to the highest standards possible.”
Of the three applicants for fire chief, Williams, Donald Ferguson and Tommy John Hughes, all were qualified in their own way.
Ferguson, who worked for Shreveport Fire Department as a firefighter and EMT said he would like to train the the entire paid department (not volunteers) to administer emergency medical service in an effort to help the ambulance technicians.
Hughes, who retired last year after more than 40 years with Minden’s department, told the council he feels “it is all about service.”
“It’s a calling,” Hughes said. “And I would like to leave the department better than I found it.”
Williams appeared to have the most administrative experience of the applicants.
“As (District 7) chief, I was able to secure grants totaling more than a quarter million dollars to purchase new equipment for the fire district, at no cost to our taxpayers,” he said. “I have also purchased just under a million dollars worth of new fire apparatus with the cost coming from our yearly operating budget, while significantly lowering the bond our taxpayers have been paying and will end in 2024.”
He said he plans to reach his top five projects through grant applications of which he has experience.
New rescue truck.
- Re-apply for the FEMA AFG Grant and also look at lease-purchasing. To build the truck is a minimum of 600-700 day process.
New SCBA air packs.
• The composite bottles are nearing expiration and the packs do not meet the most current standard. Plan to budget the replacement over a 3-year period.
New engine for Station 1.
• Plan for building a new engine for Station 1 and rotating units around. The build process is a minimum of 600-700 days. Along with the purchase, formulate a plan for future replacement of Engine 3 and then plan for future replacements so you don’t have an engine 20 years old as a front line apparatus.
Constructing a new fire station on the west side of the city.
• Submit a FEMA AFG Grant that will pay for the station and the apparatus with a 5 percent match. The personnel to staff the station can be hired after applying and receiving a FEMA AFG SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Grant. All payroll expenses are covered for 36 months and there is no cost share.
New policies and procedures for the department.
• The current policies are outdated or non-existent and need to be addressed. Create an end-to-end process for updating policies/SOGs that is streamlined, modernized, and improves the delivery of service.
A portion of Williams’ presentation reads as follows:
• The Minden Fire Department is currently one of the best fire departments in our area. Planning should be started to insure the department stays at the top.
• The Minden Fire Department needs an Administrative Chief with a progressive vision to lead the department into the coming years.
- The next Fire Chief needs to have administrative skills, knowledge in commanding a scene, planning, accounting and budgeting, training, maintenance, grant writing, and public relations, not just fire line operations.
- Given the collective talents, skills, knowledge, and experience of all members within the department, we can achieve the vision of modernizing the Minden Fire Department.
Williams will take over as chief immediately.