Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Back in 1995, Chad Bailey hoped to become a member of the Princeton Police Department; unfortunately, his grandfather was the chief of police, so the city’s rules barred him.
However, there was an opening at the Princeton Fire Department, so Bailey took the necessary test and became a firefighter 10 months later. The job became a career, and now he’s the fire department’s chief. Bailey tested for the promotion after Chief Shawn Vest announced his plans to retire last year.
Now 38-years-old, Bailey recalled his path to becoming the chief of a fire department.
“I grew up in Princeton and been in Princeton all my life. I started here in Sept. 13, 1995,” he said.
Bailey had hoped to join the police, but the city’s rules did not allow that. His grandfather, Charles Kassay, was the chief of police.
“I really wanted to be a police officer, but it didn’t work out. The city has a nepotism policy and while he was chief, I couldn’t’ work at the police department. But the city has been good to us, to our family. His dad was a police officer. The city’s been good to my family 40 years or better, so I knew it was a good place to work according to what he had to say about it,” Bailey said.
Even though the job wasn’t in law enforcement, being a firefighter was still a job in public service. Being a fire chief means handling more administrative duties, but it’s still a job in the firefighting profession.
“At the time, it probably just started out as a job with benefits, but over the years, I’ve grown to love it,” Bailey said. “As a matter of fact, I feel like I have the best job in the world, being a fireman for the city. Now the job is a little more complicated with finances and all that, but being a firefighter is the best job in the world.”
Being a firefighter is not a typical job with set hours and a set routine, Bailey said. No two days are alike.
“When you’re out there, every day is different,” he stated. “It keeps you on your toes. It keeps you wanting to further your education and your career. That’s what a lot of firemen have to do. What worked for us in 1995 does not necessary work for us in 2013. We have to keep ourselves updated and keep going to class.”
Whenever children visit the fire department for a tour, Bailey and his colleagues explain why the department has its own classroom and why firefighters are always going to seminars. firefighters have to keep learning the new techniques and new technology that come with the job.
firefighting has changed greatly since Bailey first became a firefighter. The first responder program had just started in the mid 1990s. The departments first responded to crashes, but they later started going to medical emergencies and putting paramedics on staff.
Counting Bailey, the Princeton Fire Department currently has 13 members. The interview process is underway to replace former Chief Vest with a firefighter. Promotional exams will be given in April. One firefighter will fill the captain’s post Bailey left when he became chief, and other promotions are due as the department reorganizes.
The promotion exams are not simple tests, Bailey said. Each step up in the ranks requires intensive study.
“Oh, man, for the chief’s test, there were 1,500 pages of reading material,” he said. Bailey went to a bookshelf and pulled out a volume that was a size of a large dictionary. “This is one of the books right here, and we just had to read the first 13 chapters out of it. There’s a lot of studying that goes into this job, and you have to put a lot of time into it if you want to progress.”
Bailey hopes to stay in firefighting for a good while longer.
“I’ve still got a while to go before I retire,” he said, “I’ve got a little boy in kindergarten. I hope to be here and put in a full 30 years for the city. You can’t find a better employer than the city of Princeton in my opinion.”