- Associated Press - Friday, November 4, 2016

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - Phillip Rogers wasn’t planning to be a career firefighter.

He was on break from studying industrial engineering at Indiana State University in 1980 when his mother told him about an opening on the Anderson Fire Department.

Rogers admits he wasn’t doing well at Indiana State, and remembers his mother’s words: “Well, you have to do something.”

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He applied to the cadet program and, in October 1981, became a sworn firefighter.

When paramedics were added to the department’s roster in the late 1980s, Rogers applied to the program and found his true calling.

He flew through training, and had a knack for putting patients under his care at ease.

“That was a surprise. A very good surprise. I love being a paramedic,” Rogers said Thursday during an open house at Fire Station 2, 2300 W. 22nd St., his last shift with the department ending a 35-year career.

Rogers‘ tenure was marked by a number of milestones. He was the first:

. African-American paramedic.

. African-American fire department chief in Madison County.

. Paramedic appointed chief of Anderson Fire Department.

Rogers was an assistant chief in the first two years of Kevin Smith’s first term as mayor; and named chief the final two years.

Smith was elected to a second term in 2011 and once more asked Rogers to run the fire department.

“Phil’s a great guy” who consistently demonstrated excellent leadership ability, Smith said. “I really think Phil helped us reorder our priorities in the fire department.”

Rogers recognized that emergency medical services were becoming a much larger part of the department’s responsibility and placed a lot of emphasis on training.

“He initiated a great era in trying to make sure emergency services in Anderson are second to none,” Smith said.

Current chief Dave Cravens agreed.

“He was probably one of the best (paramedics) on the job,” Cravens said, and also did a good job as chief.

Rogers said he’s particularly proud of several programs he initiated as chief.

One is promoting the regional Fire Training Center on Martin Luther King Boulevard, working to lower Anderson’s fire rating, which has reduced insurance costs for businesses, and making sure all the department’s firefighters are certified.

“That was important, not only for our guys, but for the safety of the people they are sworn to protect,” Rogers said. “We’re all better for that.”

When Thomas Broderick Jr. took office in January and named Cravens chief, Rogers returned to Station 2 where he’d served for so many years and resumed the duties of a paramedic.

“He was a little nervous coming back and getting on a truck after being over guys and how they’d take him, because he had to make some hard decisions being chief,” said firefighter Skip Ockomon.

“He came back and he fit right in, went on fires with these guys and did everything that a young cadet would do or a young firefighter would do,” Ockomon added.

Rogers remembers his first day back.

“My first day, my first shift back, we had a tree fire, a house fire and a car fire. I hadn’t been on a fire truck since 1983,” Rogers said. “That got me acclimated real fast. My heart was pounding 100 miles per hour.”

At 56, Rogers isn’t yet ready to hang out on the front porch in a rocking chair.

A registered Republican since he was 18, Rogers twice ran for the Anderson City Council seat held by Ollie H. Dixon. He lost both times, but doesn’t rule out running for office again.

“That’s pending,” he said.


Source: The (Anderson) Herald-Bulletin, https://bit.ly/2f5UMQ5


Information from: The Herald Bulletin, https://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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