Tupelo’s new fire chief talks about goals going forward

Chief Kelly Elliott is no stranger to the area

TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Tupelo’s new fire chief is settling into his new role and visiting with firefighters, city leaders, and senior staff.

Tupelo Fire Chief Kelly Elliott spent part of his Tuesday morning, talking with firefighters and checking the trucks at Station One.

Chief Elliott has been on the job one week, but he worked at the Tupelo Fire Department in the mid-1990s, after he started his career in the fire service in the Air Force.  Chief Elliott says when he left Tupelo in 1998 for an instructor’s position at the fire academy in Pearl, he set a goal of one day returning to Tupelo as chief.

“Here, under the previous fire chief and deputy chief, they came through state fire academy as instructors and I saw the route they had taken and knew that if I wanted to pursue that that would be one of the ways I could fulfill that dream of becoming a fire chief one day, and maybe coming back here to be the chief,” Chief Elliott said.

Chief Elliott and his wife are from Pontotoc, so getting the job in Tupelo is a sort of homecoming for them.  The chief says he is talking with firefighters, senior staff, and other partners to get an assessment of the fire department and set goals going forward.

“The goals are going to be to assess major programs of the fire department, see where we have weaknesses if there are any and obviously, there’s a lot of strengths here but want to firm up those weaknesses but make sure we’re taking care of business the way we need to take care of, part of doing that is looking at major programs but also looking at how we take care of our people, and their training level,” Elliott said.

Chief Elliott says his experience working with the federal government and municipalities gives him a unique perspective for his new role as Tupelo Fire Chief.

“I think a lot of the benefit is just in the exposure I’ve had when working with different organizations, or different entities, working at the local, state, federal or military level, just getting to be part of all those organizations and tying it all together and that experience bringing it back here, is some of the exposure you don’t always get if you’ve always been at the same location,” he said.

Chief Elliott served as the federal fire chief for the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing before taking the job in Tupelo.

Chief Elliott replaces Thomas Walker, who retired last year.

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