New Hoover fire chief named

Published 11:09 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos has named 33-year Hoover Fire Department veteran Chuck Wingate as the new Hoover Fire Chief, replacing outgoing Chief Tom Bradley.

Wingate, who has been a firefighter since he was 16, said the announcement was bittersweet.

“I was somewhat overwhelmed,” he said. “It’s odd coming in after your boss of 32 years. But he left the department in good shape.”

Wingate’s first day on the job was Feb. 3. The day was a whirlwind of phone calls and well wishes. Since then, however, Wingate’s been able to focus, and he likes what he sees in the fire department, even though economic conditions are not the best.

“I think that we can weather the storm. I think that we are in good shape,” he said. “I think we are going to have to work a little harder and work smarter.”

Right now, the department doesn’t have a budget, but Wingate and his staff are working to cut costs.

“We are tightening our belts some. We are looking at ways to cut costs every day,” he said.

Wingate said he has identified some ways to cut costs, which he’ll talk with his staff about at a Monday meeting. He’s not ready to divulge those measures, he said.

Wingate’s biggest goal is to continue to improve on the standard of excellence the Hoover department garnered during Bradley’s time as chief.

“There’s always room for improvement. I think our goal is to provide fire and EMS coverage in the city of Hoover in a timely manner,” he said. “Get our services to the people as quickly as possible.”