SALUTE OUR HEROES: Topeka Fire Chief Randy Phillips follows in the footsteps of his father

13 NEWS at 10 p.m.
Updated: Apr. 4, 2022 at 10:10 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -Topeka firefighter Randy Phillips took over the role of chief last month.

The appointment has him following in the footsteps of his father.

“It wasn’t necessarily something I had set like as a career goal or a path,” said Randy Phillips.

Topeka Fire Chief Randy Phillips has served the Topeka Fire Department since 1995, following in the footsteps of his father.

“He was very supportive once I brought it up to him, he just wanted me to finish school. So we kind of had an agreement between the two of us that I would finish my degree but then he was very supportive of me attempting to get on the department,” said Phillips.

Little did he know, he’d eventually ascend to the rank his dad also held.

Dennis Phillips was Topeka Fire Chief from 2002 to 2004.

“I was very proud of the fact that he was the chief during part of my career, but at the time I was an apparatus operator I was a driver,” said Phillips. “Throughout my whole career, it’s always been nice to be able to ask questions of him or bounce ideas off of him you’ll get his perspective on things.”

Phillips says it was meant for him to continue the tradition.

“It’s just over the last couple of years some opportunities have presented themselves to me and I chose to take advantage of those and throw my name in the ring and it’s fortunately worked out,” he said.

Phillips says he’s seen a lot in his 27 years of service.

“If you do this job long enough you, unfortunately, you are going to see tragic things you’re going to see things that most people probably wouldn’t have an idea that still occurs here even in a city this size,” said Phillips.

He admits, at times, he misses the front lines, “absolutely every day.”

“I spent a large part of my career station here at threes they’re pretty busy and deathly during the day when I hear them go out in a year that the trucks roll out and head down the street yeah there’s definitely, it pulls a little bit,” he added.

But he looks forward to serving in his new role, “we’re all still a team at the end of the day and so it’s nice to still feel like you can walk into one of the stations and you’re still seen as a firefighter not now just as a Chief.”

“It really is still the camaraderie. The interaction with the people that you work with and people in the community and that’s something that I will always treasure,” he emphasized.

Chief Phillips says he doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon.

He also says Topeka Fire is looking to fill positions.

If you’re interested in becoming a firefighter, you can apply online.

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