May 5, 2021
Statement from Enterprise Mayor William E. Cooper, May 5, 2021
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce that long-time Fire Chief Byron Herring will be retiring May 28.
“Byron has been an exemplary employee for the City of Enterprise, as well as a longtime personal friend. His wisdom and leadership have served Enterprise extremely well through all of these years.
“After 47 years and 7 months of service, he will be sorely missed. Having an employee with that much experience and professional expertise is rare and we hate to lose that.
“Chief Herring started out as a young whipper-snapper at only 20 years old, and he’s been with us ever since! Our employment records indicate he is probably the longest-serving employee, at least for the past 60 years of this city’s history. He also has the prestigious status of being the longest-serving career fire chief in the State of Alabama.
“He has really been a jewel, having led our fire department through the years of intense growth in our city, which in turn required our fire department to grow and advance with it.
“He also led this fire department to achieve the best Insurance Service Office rating that we’ve ever had. Our citizens benefit from reduced insurance costs because our Fire Department has a Class 2 rating. That’s based on the quality of equipment and training, proper staffing, effective operating procedures and good communications.
“So, he has been instrumental in advancing the department to the high standards that are required to attain that prestigious rating. Less than 1,600 out of about 50,000 evaluated communities enjoy a Class 2 rating, so that’s a great achievement for his department and our city.
“Chief Herring has also led our Fire Department through the transition when Emergency Medical Services became a Fire Department responsibility.
Today, every Enterprise Firefighter must be certified in EMS.
“Under his leadership, the department has grown in personnel from 27 when he became chief in 1994 to 51 today. He supervised the design process and the building of a new fire station and the renovation of these buildings here on Plaza Drive where Central Fire Station was relocated in 2017.
“So, as you can see, Chief Herring has contributed in a monumental way to the well-being of our city and our citizens, more than we could ever really describe.
“We will miss him but we respect his decision to retire at this time. He probably would have already retired if I had not asked him to stay a little longer. And I appreciate that.
We want to thank his family for sharing him with us through all these years and for the sacrifices that they had to make in order for him to answer the call of duty in times of emergency when others needed him.
Chief, we are all wishing you well. May God bless you for all you have done for our city and we pray for his continued blessings upon you as you enjoy retirement with your family.
Byron Herring bio:
The longest-serving career fire chief in the State of Alabama, Byron Herring has devoted his entire adult life to the fire service and the people of Enterprise.
Herring has served with the Enterprise Fire Department for almost half a century, earning him a reputation as legendary among his officers, current personnel, former EFD firefighters, his peers from other departments and the countless younger firefighters whom he has influenced through the years.
He began his career with the Enterprise Fire Department at the age of 20 on Oct. 19, 1973. His skill and leadership ability became evident, and after four years, he was promoted to lieutenant, assigned to Northside Fire Station for six years. In 1983, he was promoted to captain and moved to Central Fire Station, where he served 11 years.
In September 1994, he was selected by the Mayor and City Council to become Fire Chief. He has served 26 years and 7 months in that position.
Under Herring’s leadership, the EFD has made monumental strides. Among them:
- The Enterprise Fire Department is in the top 2 percent of departments in the United States, having earned a Class 2 rating in 2018. The rating, awarded by the Insurance Service Office, reflects the confidence public protection experts have in the quality of the EFD and its ability to protect lives and property in the community it serves. The rating also enables homeowners and businesses to enjoy lower insurance premiums. Enterprise is one of less than 1,600 fire departments in the nation to have a Class 2 rating. Prior to 2018, the EFD had maintained a Class 3 rating for a number of years, which put Enterprise in the top 7 percent of 48,000 communities nationwide.
- In 1994, he was responsible for integrating Emergency Medical Services into the fire department program of responsibilities, a service that has saved thousands of lives since it was implemented. Today, the department handles about 3,500 calls per year.
- He was integral in the planning and oversaw the building of Westside Fire Station on Boll Weevil Circle at the Municipal Airport and the renovation of buildings on Plaza Drive to create a new Central Fire Station.
- He has led the department as it grew along with the city population and the ever-increasing number of residential, business and industrial structures that required protection. The EFD has grown from 27 firefighters when Herring became chief in 1994 to 51 fire department personnel today.
- He has been responsible for keeping equipment up-to-date and well-maintained. The EFD now has seven fire engines, including a ladder truck and a brush truck, outfitted with state-of-the art equipment.
- He has guided the EFD through adjustments required by mandated improvements in safety regulations and use of safety gear; and has ensured firefighters receive proper training to protect themselves as well as to uphold the mission to save lives and property.
- Herring has also provided leadership through times of intense emergencies, large-scale fires and multiple natural disaster such as hurricanes and the devastating tornado strike in 2007.
- He was named Alabama Fire Chiefs Association Chief of the Year in 2018.
In addition to his operational and administrative duties as chief, Herring is the City’s Safety Officer, which has become even more challenging during the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation. He provides all life safety inspections for new and remodeled commercial buildings, without the support of any assistant chief positions.
Herring continually sought to improve his skills and has been a lifelong learner though numerous local, State and Federal classes throughout his career concentrating all studies in the Fire Service. He has attained local and state certifications needed as the fire service modernized and adapted to new technology as well as state and national operational policies.
Chief Herring has held all positions within the Enterprise Fire Department. He is also a founding member of the Battens Volunteer Fire Department where he served as chief from 1985 to 1994. He is a founding member of the Coffee County Firefighters Association where he served in multiple roles including President and Vice President. Herring also served on the board of directors and as treasurer for the Southeast Fire District Six. He is a member of the Southeast Fire Chiefs Association, International Fire Chiefs Association and Alabama Fire Chiefs Association.
Herring has received recognition from the Alabama Fire Chiefs Association as the longest-serving career fire chief in the state.
A 1971 graduate of Enterprise High School, Herring was born to Ray and Lillie Herring, and grew up on the family farm just outside of Enterprise. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Martha, who recently retired as administrative assistant at First Baptist Church of Geneva. The Herrings have two children. Their son, Capt. Phillip Herring of the Dothan Fire Department, is following in his father’s footsteps. He currently works at the Dothan Fire Department. Their daughter, Christina Brown, office and clinic manager with Southern Bone and Joint. They have three grandchildren, Alexis, Austin and Hanna.
All family members have demonstrated a spirit of service through various EMS, church and community involvement. Herring has proudly served his Church in multiple ways including as deacon, trustee, chair of the Stewardship and Fellowship Hall building Committees and the Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Known among family members, co-workers, peers and friends for his strength of character, Herring is a man of faith in Jesus Christ who believes in fairness, integrity and hard work. He shows his faith through consistent and never-ending concern, compassion and drive to improve the lives of everyone he comes in contact with.
The long-time fire chief will officially retire May 28, 2021. A formal retirement ceremony is set for4 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the Enterprise Civic Center.