Burdette is Pell City's new fire chief
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – The council unanimously approved Monday night to hire Mike Burdette as the city’s new fire chief.

“I think he has shown us he is capable of doing this job,” said Council President James McGowan. “Mr. Burdette you are our new fire chief, welcome.”

Burdette has served as the assistant fire chief for about one year and the interim fire chief since Nov. 5.

“I have no problems what so ever with Mike,” said Councilman Jay Jenkins said last week at the council work session, where the council discussed Burdette’s possible appointment.

Councilman Terry Templin said he met twice with Burdette, saying that the new fire chief came up through the ranks, further his education since he’s been with the fire department and has arresting powers as the city’ fire marshal.

“I was very impressed with him,” Templin said. “I feel like he does desire it.”

Burdette has served as a firefighter for almost 25 years, 22 of those years with the Pell City Fire Department. In 2011, Burdette was appointed as the fire department’s new fire marshal.

Burdette is a 1998 graduate from the police academy at Jacksonville State University and is APOST certified, which means he has arresting powers as an arson investigator.

He also oversees the city’s fire prevention and inspection program.

City officials say Burdette was the only in-house candidate to apply for the vacant fire chief’s job.

“He had a very good interview,” said Mayor Joe Funderburg. “I was very impressed with him.”

McGowan said Burdette was interviewed last Wednesday in the council chamber by him, the mayor and Councilwoman Dot Wood and City Manager Patrick Draper.

“I think it’s good if he gets this position,” McGowan said at last Thursday’s work session.

He said the council sets an example with Burdette, giving other firefighters something to strive for, and it shows that city officials will promote from within their departments.

Draper also recommended that the council appoint Burdette as the new fire chief.

“I cannot see any reason why we can’t promote the fire chief from within,” Draper said at last week’s council work session. “I recommend promoting Mike Burdette as the new fire chief.”

Burdette, who has an associate’s degree from Gadsden State Community College in Emergency Medical Services, is the first firefighter to come up through the ranks in the fire department to become the city’s fire chief.

“It’s a dream come true,” Burdette said of his appointment, adding that he feels good that it was a unanimous decision by the council to promote him to fire chief.

He remembers going through the firefighting school in Pell City, before he was ever a member of the city’s fire department. At that time, he was with Lincoln Fire Department.

“While I was in those classes, I would have never believed I would someday be the fire chief of the Pell City Fire Department,” Burdette said. “A lot of things went into getting me where I am at today.”

Burdette said he has a good working relationship with the city manager, who is the former fire chief.

“I feel comfortable in the role,” said Burdette, who has served as the interim fire chief for more than one month. “But, it’s going to be challenging.”

He said he wants to move the fire department forward and have the trust of the mayor, city manager and council, as well as the public.

“We have an open door policy,” Burdette said. “I want people to see what we are about and what we do.”

In other matters at Monday night’s council meeting, the council:

• Approved to set the time for the regular scheduled council meetings for the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m., and the fourth Monday council meeting held at 6 p.m.. Work sessions are at 4 p.m. the Thursday before the Monday council meetings.

• Authorized the city manager to solicit bids for paving projects for this fiscal year and to expend up to $48,750 for striping.

• Approved an ordinance setting the 2013 Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday for Feb. 22-24.

• Approved an ordinance that sets a $2 increase for the business license issuance fee.

• Approved to adjust the water bills for 31 customers who are still receiving discolored water.

• Because of the Christmas Holidays set the next regularly scheduled council meeting for 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 20. The council meeting will follow the 4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 20, council work session.

• Approved to waive about 150 water customer bills in the amount of $39,550 because of faulty water meters.

© 2012