Pierce to be sworn in as Covington Fire Chief tonight

COVINGTON, Ky. - Just 15 years old when he joined the Bromley Volunteer Fire Department, Mark Pierce felt the firefighter’s call at an early age.
Tonight, after 23 years as a paid firefighter in Covington, he will be officially sworn in as Chief of the City’s Fire Department at a meeting of the Covington City Commission - and he hasn’t lost the fervor he felt as a teen-ager.
“For the last 23 years I have been proud to say that I have the greatest job in the world,” Pierce said. “I wake up every morning excited to see what today will bring.”
Pierce has served as interim fire chief since Jan. 1, after the Covington City Commission voted to have him fill in for the departing Dan Mathew. Last week the Commission voted him to the permanent position on the recommendation of City Manager David Johnston.
“Mark’s experience will help the City evolve,” Johnston said. “We’ll be seeking new ideas to take our Fire Department further into the 21st Century.”
When fully staffed, Covington’s Fire Department employs 122 people and operates on a $13 million budget out of five fire houses. It handles about 12,000 calls a year for service. But only about 20 percent of those calls are what people consider “traditional” fire calls. About 80 percent are EMS-related.
“How we deal with that reality” is one thing that Pierce will be tasked to focus on as chief, Johnston said. Another priority, Johnston said, will be developing a leadership training program for Covington firefighters who want to move up the ranks and pursue their fire-fighting careers in management.
Pierce said he would manage in a strategic and assertive manner to ensure that Covington has not only the equipment and people power but also the administrative infrastructure it needs to provide world-class fire and EMS service.
Pierce said his priorities would include: 
  • Keeping staffing in line with the growth and changing needs of Covington. 
  • Creating a formal management training program, similar to what the Police Department has. 
  • Beginning the several-year process to gain accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, an intensive process of guided self-evaluation and status that only three other departments in Kentucky have gone through and earned, according to the CFAI website. 
  • Develop a fleet-replacement plan. 
  • Evaluate the administration structure of the Fire Department, including EMS. 
  • And continue to improve and modernize both internal training and Standard Operating Guidelines to reflect the ever-changing nature of threats to safety. 
“You need more than fire trucks and hoses to respond to emergencies - you need the latest in training and you need an effective, efficient command structure,” Pierce said.
Johnston said Pierce was selected after a national search that attracted “a significant number of resumes” and an intensive interview process that produced four highly qualified finalists, including three within Covington’s Fire Department.
Pierce joined the Department in 1995 and has worked his way up the ranks. 
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