It’s been a big week for the Anderson Fire Department. The new chief, Phil Rogers, took the oath of office Thursday and earlier in the week the International Order of Firefighters Local 1262 signed a new contract with the city.

We feel AFD is a terrific department and the new leadership will keep up the good tradition.

Rogers is the first African-American fire chief in Anderson, and he’s also the first from the emergency medical services arm of the department to be named chief. Humble at the swearing-in ceremony, Rogers said he stands before everyone as a product of Anderson. Good people with good qualities come from the community, and Rogers will represent them well.

Mayor Kevin Smith said Rogers’ appointment as chief fulfills some of the goals that Smith made when he campaigned for mayor concerning “professional government with professional staffing.”

The mayor said he wants Rogers to be a role model for the administration and that seems a goal easily attained by a man who has given his working years to the department and city.

This is also a good time to thank the outgoing chief J.R. Rosencrans and the 35 years he gave to the department. We wish him well in retirement.

The firefighters rejected an earlier contract that called for no pay raise in 2006. The one they signed this week will increase their base pay $3,568 over three years.

The contract will also require firefighters to take an agility test. “We want a healthier fire department,” said Assistant Chief Dan Dykes. The tests will be conducted according to age levels.

Another contract clause important for the firefighters states that no one will be laid off. Manpower reductions will be done by attrition. This will give some consistency to the department and keep it at the ready. It’s a good move.

As Anderson residents, we owe a lot to our fire department. Just in the last year, they fought the magnesium blaze at AMACOR, numerous other fires and saved lives while doing it.

We hope the new leadership and contract will serve Anderson well in the coming years because one thing won’t change: The need for a great department.

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