[cifnmedia] New Fire Chief Wood River

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 07:48:31 -0800 (PST)


WOOD RIVER -- Since he was a little boy, Steve Alexander knew he was destined 
to become a firefighter, but he never dreamed he would be chief by age 40.

"I started hanging out at the fire station when I was 10," Alexander said. "So 
this is really a dream-come-true."

Alexander took over as interim chief when Mark Burris retired last November and 
ended his 25-year career. Although interim city manager Jim Schneider hired 
Alexander on Feb. 17, he wasn’t officially sworn into office until Monday 

"We’re confident that Steve will do an outstanding job for the city," 
Schneider said. "He is definitely the right person for the job."

Alexander has more than 22 years of experience in the fire service, including 
fire operations, fire prevention, emergency medical services and fire 

Since joining the Fire Department as a paid-on-call in 1981, Alexander has 
quietly moved up through the ranks. In 1986, he was hired as a full-time 
firefighter, and six years later, he was promoted to captain. 

Alexander has taken fire science courses at Lewis and Clark Community College 
and the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute. He is certified as an 
advanced firefighter, an instructor and a basic fire inspector.

"I spent most of my adolescence and all of my adult life in the Fire 
Department," Alexander said.

Retired Fire Chief Guy Williams said he is proud to see Alexander get the job 
as chief.

"No one deserves it more than he does," Williams said. 

Williams remembers Alexander coming to the station as a boy.

"He was always hanging around," he said. "He knew at an early age what he 
wanted to do with his life. Not many people can say that."

During his career, Alexander has dealt with the ups and downs of the fire 

He said he went into his first fire a month after being on the department.

"It was a trailer fire," he said. "All I remember is how disorienting it was." 

He said that now when a firefighter enters a burning building, they’ve had 
the training. 

"It wasn’t like it was before," Alexander said. "Firefighters should be 
qualified so that nothing happens to them. (Fire departments) push safety as a 
priority above all else."

Alexander said some of his immediate duties would involve "taking a department 
that already does a good job and figuring out how to improve its services." 

He said that with limited manpower, it could be very difficult, but he is 
confident the Fire Department will continue to provide excellent services to 
the community. He said once the city makes it through its tough financial 
times, he hopes to increase the department’s manpower. There are nine 
full-time firefighters, including Alexander.

Although most of the changes within the department during the next few months 
will be internal, Alexander said the public will benefit greatly. Firefighter 
Leonard Revelle was promoted to captain during the Fire and Police Commission 
meeting Wednesday night. Revelle is one of the Fire Department’s top 

Alexander has lived in Wood River all of his life and is a 1981 graduate of 
East Alton-Wood River High School. He and his wife, Debbie, have a son, 
Matthew, 12 and a daughter, Kara, 15.


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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