By: Staff Writer
Haines City - When Jeffrey was 17 years old, he realized he wanted to be a firefighter, but he was too young to attend the fire academy, so he joined the Army Reserves instead. After completing his training, he went ahead and served in the United States Army Reserves from 1987 to 1995, in the Combat Signal Corps. And, once he turned 18, he was finally able to start his career in the fire service, while also serving his country.
This month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jeffrey Davidson from the Haines City Fire Department and this is what he shared with us:
NEPG: What's your position in the Fire Department, and how long have you been in that position?
Fire Chief Davidson: I am the Fire Chief for the Haines City Fire Department, and I have been in the fire service for 31 years, starting in 1988, when I was only 18 years old. I took command of the Haines City Fire Department on February 11, 2019. I hold a Masters Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management, a Bachelors Degree in Public Administration and designation as Chief Fire Officer (CFO) from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
NEPG: What are your main responsibilities as the Fire Chief?
Fire Chief Davidson: As the Fire Chief, I am responsible for carrying out the day-to-day tasks of running the fire department. My main responsibilities include the safety and health of all personnel, management of the fire department budget, compliance with industry standards, management of emergency scenes, disaster preparedness, training, equipment, vehicles, facilities, communications, and emergency response. I am also responsible for assigning duties to firefighters, to train and drill them in firefighting and rescue techniques. I am also responsible for evaluating their performance and overseeing their advancement. I also monitor the care and maintenance of the fire station and all equipment, submit requests for new acquisitions and work with fire department budgets. As the Fire Chief, I also make sure firefighters follow established policies and procedures by keeping records and reports of all fire response actions.
NEPG: How do you manage the different personalities among your firefighters to make an impact not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives?
Fire Chief Davidson: The fire department, like any other organization, has as many different personalities as they do personnel. Getting to know your personnel and how to motivate them is essential to being a successful administrator. Firefighters are continuously training and attending classes and seminars to improve their knowledge and skills, to provide the best services to the community. They need to make sure to apply this to their personal lives as well; to put in the same efforts in yourselves, and in your personal lives that you put into your career. We want to make sure that our firefighters live long and healthy lives, both physical health and mental health.
NEPG: Tell me a little bit about your family and how you manage your professional and personal lives without allowing one to affect the other?
Fire Chief Davidson: I am the very proud father of two beautiful 22-year-old twin daughters, who are the light of my life. I could not be more proud of the ladies they have grown to be. Managing a personal life and professional life is not an easy task, and to think they don’t affect each other is impossible. Being a Fire Chief is 24/7/365 responsibility. There is not a minute in my day that I am not caring for the men and women under my command. After office hours, I am tied to my cell phone, pager, and notification system. I want to make sure that my personnel knows that they are never alone… that we are always looking out for their safety and to make sure they have everything they need to do their jobs well and to get home safely to their loved ones. Firefighters work 24-hour shifts, 365 days a year, which also includes holidays. Not only do we make sacrifices with our families, but our families also make those sacrifices along with us. Balancing of personal and professional lives is not easy, if not impossible at times. The military gave me the discipline and self-determination to have a successful career and to serve the citizens we protect.