MOREHEAD CITY — The city’s Fire/EMS Department has a new deputy chief at its helm, but he is not a new face.
Deputy Chief Chris Judy began his new role Jan. 2, after the retirement of longtime Deputy Chief Jack Manley. Deputy Chief Judy was promoted from captain, and said he had spent his entire 29-year career with the Morehead City Fire/EMS Department.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” he told the News-Times Thursday, one week after assuming his position as deputy chief. “…So far, things have been pretty good. The previous deputy chief left us in a really good place. He’d done a great job so it made the transition very smooth for me.”
Deputy Chief Judy said the promotion represents a change in his job duties, but he feels he is adjusting well to the new role. He shadowed Mr. Manley for several weeks to learn the ropes of the new position before the old deputy chief retired, which he said helped ease the transition.
Being a longtime employee of the MCFD also helped the transition, Deputy Chief Judy said. He said, when possible, the department prefers to groom future leaders from its own ranks to fill positions when they open up.
“(I was) already familiar with how we operate, so that’s a learning curve you don’t have,” he said. “…We try to groom our people to where we’re in a position to promote from within, so fortunately we’ve been able to do that the last number of years, which says a lot of the leadership and the Chief (Jamie Fulk).
“He encourages his other officers to bring their people up, encourage them to train and get the certifications they need to be able to hold the different positions.”
Deputy Chief Judy spoke highly of Chief Fulk and said he looks forward to working as the chief’s right-hand man.
“We work well together, so that’s made the transition all that much smoother,” he said.
The new deputy chief has some fresh ideas he wants to bring to the department, especially for training. The department recently welcomed several new hires with a range of experience, from seasoned firefighters to newbies, and Deputy Chief Judy said first of all, he wants to go back to the basics and get everyone on the same page with their firefighting and life-saving skills.
After that, he wants to focus on preparing for what is known as “high risk, low frequency” events.
“They can range from training on high-rises for fires in high-rises, to training with hazardous materials – basically things we don’t get called to a lot, but when you do, the potential (for injury) is very high,” he said. “So those are two of the things out of the gate I’ll be focusing on.”
Deputy Chief Judy added he enjoys working with the Morehead City community, which has always shown support for the fire department.
To illustrate what kind of agency the MCFD is, the deputy chief recalled a fire a few years ago that put a family out of its home right before Christmas. He was the captain on duty when the call went out, and before firefighters had even finished putting out the flames, they were already coming up with ways to help the family out during the holidays.
“We basically adopted them. We literally did a little fundraising real quick, outside and internally, to the point that … right at Christmastime, we brought them in to the station, we had Santa Claus, we had breakfast, we had presents, and they had Christmas here,” he said. “We obviously try to help anyone we can, but that year … everyone was standing a little bit taller. It was really great and everyone was pretty darn proud.”
The Morehead City Council will recognize Mr. Manley for his years of service to the MCFD with a helmet presentation and a resolution in his honor during the regular monthly meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the municipal building at 202 S. 8th St. Chief Deputy Judy and Chief Fulk will be present to send off the former deputy chief.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.