Alford's leaving fires behind
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Ronald Alford is the latest retiree from the Brewton Fire Department. He's calling it quits after 20 years of service with the fire department. Add to that another four years with the Brewton Police Department and one can say that he has served his community for quite a few years.
Alford had a very material reason for going to work with the fire department. He said he needed the job in order to get benefits for his family.
The first week on the job was very traumatic for Alford. There was a house fire, which resulted in a fatality, but thankfully all days on the job are not that eventful. He said that Chief Martin stayed close with him until he felt that that he was ready to be on his own.
Over the last 20 years many things have changed in the way firemen are trained and the job of being a firefighter has expanded to include more than just fighting fires. Today there are dangers they face that were unknown when he began his training. That first training was, by no means, the last. He and his fellow firemen have continued to train and stay up with modern firefighting methods.
Today, fireman are called upon to respond to vehicle accidents. They are continuously teaching the public about everything from the need for smoke detectors to safety measures in the home. It is even their responsibility to maintain the fire trucks, the fire station and the station's grounds.
Another way the department has changed has been the addition of having to worry about the possibility of terrorism and dealing with hazardous materials. The need was there before Sept. 11, 2001, but on that day the world changed and awareness is more apparent than ever. Brewton is now equipped with a haz mat trailer, which has been used one time for a chlorine leak.
He and the other firemen work a shifts that are 24 hours on and then off for 48 hours. When they are on duty, they sleep in a bunkroom that holds a bed for each fireman. They cook their own meals and spend the time cleaning, washing the fire trucks and maintaining the station building and grounds. They also have a room to sit and watch television, read a book or carry on a conversation. Probably the best way to describe them is to say that they are a family and they look out for each other just as any other family would.
Alford retired this month with the rank of captain. His fellow co-workers threw him a party and served catfish and all the trimmings.
Alford grew up in East Brewton with two younger sisters. He attended W.S. Neal and graduated in 1972 while working as a cashier at the old Daulphin's grocery store, which was once located on Hwy. 29 in East Brewton.
After graduation, he went to work at the T.R. Miller Mill treating department and stayed there for five years.
He was told that he would be the next one hired when they needed someone. He left the mill and did some construction work until they called him to come to the police department. He received his police training at Faulkner State in Bay Minette.
Alford married Yvonne Ball in 1979. She brought two children, Farrah and Chuck, to the marriage and then they had another child, Brooke. He loves to hunt and fish and his favorite pastime is hunting with a bow.
He also has plans to try to run a commercial fish business in the future. In the meantime he says he wants to run a bulldozer to clean up some of the roads that still have storm damage that has not been repaired. But he plans to take life a little bit easier than he has for the past 20 years.