EDMOND — Edmond's new fire chief, Jake Rhoades, who has been with the city's fire department for three weeks, said he doesn't mind pushing the envelope.
“We have an opportunity to work outside the box,” said Rhoades, 42.
Rhoades succeeds Gil Harryman, who retired June 29. Harryman had been fire chief since August 2001.
Changes at the Edmond Fire Department could be coming, but for now Rhoades is seeing what works and doesn't.
“I am figuring out the hows and whys,” Rhoades said.
One of his goals is for the department to become accredited through the Center for Public Safety.
“The accreditation shows we are constantly improving and moving forward,” Rhoades said.
The application process will take a couple of years to complete. Rhoades anticipates starting work on the application by next summer.
The Edmond Fire Department is approved for 122 firefighters, but there are 105 on the job this month. There also are four others who work for the department.
White fire vehicles will be a thing of the past in Edmond. The color is changing to red when it's time to replace the old ones.
Rhoades, who had been deputy fire chief at Rogers Fire Department in Arkansas since 2009, said he is impressed with the department's training facility. He said the closest facility that would match Edmond's is in Dallas.
Rhoades would like to see the training center near Covell Road and Interstate 35 utilized more by Edmond firefighters and those from other departments.
“We have the best training facility in the region,” Rhoades said. “We are blessed with what we have. I want a lot of traffic through Edmond.”
Rhoades started his career in 1992 as a firefighter at the Stillwater Fire Department, where he also was a lieutenant and training officer before he left the department in 2008.
“This is kind of a homecoming,” Rhoades said.
“I have always admired Edmond Fire Department and Edmond as a community.”
His wife, Brenda, is teaching at Cheyenne Middle School. They have two sons, J.T., 19, who plays baseball at Central Arizona College, and Carter, 13.
Rhoades said he can't wait to get a uniform of his own. Right now, he is wearing pants from a uniform at another department and a borrowed shirt.
He wants to order polo-style shirts for the firefighters as an alternative to wearing their current uniforms, something Rhoades said is trivial but will help to refine their uniforms.
“I don't consider anything out of bounds,” Rhoades said. “I do not think you should accept the status quo. We should lead the pack.”