Gulfport's new fire chief spent much of Wednesday meeting with firefighters around the city. Pat Sullivan wanted them to know that he's ready to get to work.
The 26-year veteran of the Gulfport Fire Department says it may take some time to get used to his new title. But Chief Sullivan already seems to have a handle on the challenges and concerns facing the department.
The new fire chief hit the ground running on this first day. He visited the various stations and listened to firefighters' concerns. Chief Sullivan says he puts a priority on communication, both hearing his employees and serving the public.
"One of the things I feel comfortable with is meeting with the public. I love the public. I love the concept of serving the public."
He's done it for 26 years with the Gulfport Fire Department. We found a picture of the new chief on a 1981 group photo. The now-veteran says one priority will be attracting quality recruits. The department now has 14 firefighter vacancies.
"We're going to step up to the plate and do the things that are necessary to get the quality applicant. And if you get a quality applicant then you get a quality employee."
Sullivan says making the job more attractive could mean pushing for higher pay or better benefits like fully paid health insurance. Firefighter training will also remain a high priority.
"Training is very, very very important because it keeps you alive. You train in order to protect the public and you train in order to protect your employees."
Sullivan says his management style is definitely hands-on. He's always enjoyed being on the front lines as a firefighter and he doesn't expect that will change much now that he's chief.
"I want to be on the scene. I want to know that we're doing the right things. And then figure out the things we need to know to do it better."