New fire chief emphasizes training

By Steve McBride
Independence Daily Reporter – January 20, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – January 26, 2017


The passion for firefighting runs deep in Shawn Wallis, a native of Independence and the current Montgomery County Emergency Preparedness director, that is what lead him to apply for the position as the Independence fire chief when it became vacant after longtime Fire Chief Rusty Baker retired. He immediately applied and was accepted for the job.

“I left the Independence Fire Department in 2006 to pursue a position at Cobalt in Human Resources,” Wallis said. “I always loved the fire department, however at that time I was becoming burned out on the shift work and I had two young children and I was not able to participate in many of their activities. Now that my children are older I can regain the passion I have for Fire/EMS profession.”

In 2009, he was hired as the Montgomery County Human Resources director followed by his latest position, in 2016, as the county’s Emergency Preparedness director.

Wallis’ interest in firefighting began at an early age. When he was 17 years old he received his certification as an EMT and began working for Independence EMS at the age of 18 while attending ICC.

After his graduation from PSU in 1986, with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, he was looking for a job when he noticed Independence had an opening for a position with the EMS. He was able to acquire the position.

Within six months after he began the EMS job became available in the Independence Fire Department and he applied and got it.

“I remember thinking it might be an interesting change,” Wallis recalled. At that time personnel could transfer between departments. “When I got to the fire department I loved it and stayed for 20 years, including eight years as the captain of the Independence Fire Department,” said Wallis.

“I am excited about getting involved with this great group of individuals in the Fire/EMS department. They are a young, progressive department that have been tasked with a very difficult situation since the closing of our hospital,” Wallis said. He sees the department being constantly pulled in many directions as they have to run to all of the area hospitals and because of the lack of an ER at this time.

He says he will be focusing on training. “This is a big issue–in the field of Fire/EMS training is ongoing in order to maintain the skills the department has been taught and also to stay on top of new trends, equipment, procedures and techniques,” Wallis emphasized.

Wallis reiterated, “This is not an easy occupation. There is a lot of time away from family and family events, loss of sleep and it can be extremely stressful.”

He reminded the public that the Fire/EMS personnel deal with situations on a daily basis that the average person will never have to deal with.

“These people are dedicated and care for the people of this community in doing their job and they are willing to risk their lives to save a life,” Wallis said.

Wallis lives in Independence with his wife, Mary Jo. They have two adult children and one grandson.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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