LIVE TO SERVE: Shaver named first deputy fire chief

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2019

At 18 years old, Curtiss Shaver had no thoughts of becoming a firefighter. That all changed though the day he realized the importance of the fire service.

Shaver was working on his farm and had stepped onto a platform above a running corn combine, something he said he knew he should not be doing – then he slipped.

He was stuck in the combine for two hours as the machine pinched his lower body. Finally, members of the South Alabama Electric Cooperative that were working nearby heard his calls for help and called the Troy Fire Department.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

With the help of local farmer Malcolm Dickey, the fire department was able to extricate Shaver from the machinery and save his life.

However, Shaver still lost a leg in the incident and had to adjust to the new prosthetic. Once he began playing softball again at a high level, he realized he could still do strenuous physical activity and chose to volunteer with the Goshen Volunteer Fire Department, seeking to help others the way he had been helped.

“I never would have imagined that I would become a paid firefighter,” Shaver said. “As far as I knew then, I was just going to volunteer.”

As he worked alongside Troy firefighters, he recognized that he was often just as capable and more than some of the paid firefighters and he realized he could help people as a career.

Since joining the Troy Fire Department in 2001, Shaver has tackled many roles, and most recently has served as battalion chief and operations chief.

On September 12, he was officially promoted to the new role of deputy chief to further lead the department.

“It’s an extreme honor to be considered the leader of the operations here; that’s where the rubber meets the road,” Shaver said. “These guys are very good at what they do. It’s an honor to be the main man beside Chief (Michael) Stephens in executing the structure of the work ethic and operations to our members.”

Shaver said his unique experience is a constant motivator and driver of ensuring the Troy Fire Department is the best it can be.

“I’ve been the person that cannot help themselves, that’s in a situation where they must depend on someone else,” Shaver said. “I think that gives me a unique perspective. It helps to keep our organization and members focused on how important this job is.”

Stephens said he created the deputy chief position to better streamline the department’s workflow.

“He was our operations chief, but the problem with that while also being battalion chief is that he would only be in every third day,” Stephens said. “By creating this new position, he can be in the office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. so we can handle the operations every day.”

Shaver has no issue stating his desire for the future of the department – a rare ISO Class 1 rating that is usually only obtainable by large cities. The department is already a rare Class 2.

“I don’t even treat it as a what-if,” Shaver said. “It’s going to happen.”

To reach that goal, Shaver said the department continues to focus heavily on pre-fire planning, helping stop fires before they ever start and giving the department the best possible course of action every time they go to combat a fire.