Picayune Fire Department promotes three longtime firefighters

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017

With a combined total of over 80 years in firefighting experience, three Picayune firefighters were promoted to higher ranks, which include more responsibilities they are each deserving of, Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said.

Ronnie Reynolds was recently promoted to battalion chief, which is the rank of a subordinate fire chief or commanding officer ranks of a fire department.

“This is something you work toward for a long time. It’s an honor to be in the position I’m in today,” Reynolds said.

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Reynolds has spent the past 24 years working at the Picayune Fire Department, and has seen many changes in his tenure, the biggest being the dramatic improvements in training as well as equipment.

“When I came in back in the 90s, it was all older folks, but the generation today consists of a lot more younger firefighters,” he said.

Along with more paperwork, Reynolds is now in charge of 10 firefighters in one of the three shifts and is the third man in charge on the firefighting command structure only behind Fire Chief Brown and the assistant chief.

“Ronnie never takes a day off,” coworker Billy Schaff said.

Schaff was also recently promoted to Captain.

“I strived hard to get this promotion; it’s been a long time coming,” Schaff said, who has worked as a fire fighter for 35 years, 19 in Picayune.

Now, after an extensive career in the field, Schaff said he enjoys helping the younger generations, by sharing what he was taught during his tenure. However, there is one thing that Schaff said is still new to him.

“This world that this generation is coming into is a lot different than when I was going into firefighting. It’s something new for all of us,” he said.

Capt. Schaff is under the Battalion Chief and is an accomplished commander who rides with the crew to calls while overseeing them.

In his career, Schaff said working at the fire department has helped him improve as a person while learning new techniques of fire service to better serve the community.

The third promotion was to Ottis Mitchell to lieutenant.

“When I first heard that I was being promoted, I was happy to be able to fill the position of lieutenant and that the department thinks that highly of my work here,” Mitchell said.

In his 22 years of experience, 17 full-time, he said he has appreciated every second at the department and is humble to have the opportunity to continue his service in Picayune.

“These guys are in these positions for a reason. They all are great at what they do and have been for many years,” Brown said.