New fire chief says focus must service

Published 2:58 pm Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Danny Endress believes if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

That’s the attitude Pelham’s new fire chief has about his job.

“This department is recognized across the state as being the best at our game,” Endress said. “So, are there going to be any major changes now? No.”

Endress has been head of the department since May 22. He replaced Gary Waters, who retired in May after 30 years of service with Pelham.

The new chief has more than three decades of experience fighting fires and manning stations.

Endress started with the Cahaba Heights Fire Department right after graduating from Chelsea High School. A couple of years later, the 49-year-old went to work for Pelham, where he’s been ever since.

“Other than a few jobs while in high school, this has been my career,” said Endress. “This is where I’ve been the whole time. It’s all I’ve ever done.”

Endress said he chose to become a firefighter because he loves to help people.

“Like many boys, I had a fascination with fire trucks growing up,” he said. “But as I got older, I realized this job was about more – helping other people, no matter what their emergency is.”

Endress has held a few positions during his 29 years with Pelham. He was a battalion chief for most of that time, from 1993 to 2007.

He was then appointed deputy fire chief last fall, nine months before his promotion to chief on May 22. That move was made official by the Pelham City Council on June 2.

“I know the job that has to be done around here,” Endress said. “It’s just now the responsibility for making sure it actually gets done is on me.”

The chief has spent much of his first month meeting with staff, from high-ranking officers to rookie fighters.

“I’ve challenged our people to be aggressive, proactive and involved,” he said. “We have to be loyal to the citizens and do our best to provide a service that is the best.”

Pelham’s department includes 79 firefighters, who man five stations 24 hours a day. They answered 500 calls in May, half of those emergencies.

“It’s a task you can’t take lightly,” Endress said. “We always have to have our A game on.”

Away from the station, Endress is a big Alabama fan and is approaching his 29th season as a high school football referee.

Last year, he starred as Mother Ginger in Pelham’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

“I got to help and be around kids,” said Endress. “It was a lot of fun.”