October 22, 2021

Hayes promoted to Homer fire chief

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Homer Fire Station on South Main Street in Homer in this Cortland Standard file Photo

When Steven Hayes heard firefighters had pulled his younger brother out of a motor vehicle accident when they were younger, he knew he wanted to pursue a career as a firefighter.

The fire department in Orange County was the first on scene, Hayes said, but hadn’t been dispatched. Firefighters heard the call and dispatched themselves, knowing they could get there quicker.

“It made me want to do something similar for someone else,” Hayes said.

And since he started his career as a volunteer firefighter, he has.

“He’s been a chief before and he’s got some ideas on how to do things,” said retired fire chief Mahlon Irish, Jr. “So far, things seem to be staying pretty much the same as it was.”

When Hayes started firefighting for Orange County when he was 24, he never planned to be the chief of a department, he said. When his day job as a Verizon service technician moved him to Scott after volunteering for five years, he joined the Homer Fire Department in 2000.

“I thought about being a New York City firefighter,” Hayes said. “Then just living down there and being down there, I wanted to get away.”

Homer fire chief nominees must have at least three years experience and live within the fire district, Irish said.

Hayes was nominated alongside First Assistant Chief Jay Riley but Irish noted the deputy chief, which Hayes was for a year, is usually the next in line, Irish said. Chiefs are elected by members of the fire department and department officers.

Hayes was deputy chief for the department for a year before being elected for the chief’s position, Irish said.

“The deputy chief’s job is trying to learn the chief’s job,” Hayes said.

While serving as chief, Hayes doesn’t plan to change anything at the department, he said. But if he does, he will do it with the guidance of the deputy chief, Nick Card, and the two assistant chiefs, Jay Riley and Joe Riley.

“I don’t plan on changing anything drastically and if I do, it’ll be something small because Mahlon (Irish) did a phenomenal job,” Hayes said. “There is no sense in me reinventing the wheel.”

Hayes was sworn in April 23, he said.