3/4/2014 10:12:00 AM Slice Of Life: Winslow Fire Chief James Hernandez
Winslow Fire Chief James Hernandez. Photo/Todd Roth
Todd Roth NHO
WINSLOW, Ariz. - James Hernandez has been the Winslow Fire Chief for three years. The Navajo-Hopi Observer sat down with him to discuss his duties.
How long have you been with the Winslow Fire Department?
I started 26 years ago as an on-call volunteer. That is also when I began working for the city full time at the water treatment plant and later with the Streets Department. During this time I took some EMT training and then began my EMT duties with the fire department as part of my volunteer duties.
What was your next step with the Fire Department?
About 20 years ago after taking various classes, including firefighting, HAZMAT, and fire investigation, I became a full time Winslow firefighter.
What was your next step on the Fire Department hierarchy?
You went from firefighter straight up to chief? You didn't go from lieutenant or captain on up?
No. There was no movement in the department, no new spaces to be filled. And I had pretty much decided I'd retire as a firefighter, knowing many men in various departments who had gone that route.
How is it different now as the chief?
In the last six months I have not needed to carry around my fire outfit since we have filled a vacant firefighter opening with the city. But, for the first couple of years as chief, I also filled in as a regular firefighter as well.
What's an on-call volunteer firefighter?
Someone that's available 24-7 to respond to fire department calls for service. They get $10 an hour for working and training and also have a retirement pension available, after 15 years of service.
What is next on your list of department improvements?
A water tender. That's a large tank truck with a fire pump. It's something useful for this area because many places are not served by city water mains.
How long have you lived in Winslow?
Forty-six years. All my life. It's a great place to live, being close to many interesting places within easy driving distance but not suffering heavy traffic here in town.