White settling into role as new fire chief

Kate Crutcher

O’FALLON – For the past month, Brad White has been settling into his new position as the city’s fire chief, following the retirement of former-Chief Brent Saunders. 

White, who has been with the O’Fallon Fire Department since 2006, was made official on December 13, 2018, and introduced to the city at the city council meeting the following Monday evening. 

Before his career as a fire fighter, White served our country by being a part of the military, recently retiring after 28 years with the United States Department of Defense, including 13 of those years with the United States Marine Corps.. 

“I have been with NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigating Service) for quite a while before joining the O’Fallon Fire Department. I was a liaison for the Navy and [Scott] Air Force Base. I worked with the local FBI as well, for quite a bit.” White said. 

White is a graduate of the American Military University and holds his Fire Officer I and II Certifications from Southwestern Illinois College’s Fire Science Program.

Over his career with the O’Fallon Fire Department and Department of Defense, Chief White has received numerous awards including the 2010 US Transportation Command Civilian of the Year, 2013 National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal, and O’Fallon Fire Department Firefighter of the Year in 2009, 2011 and 2016.

White grew up in the middle of Georgia, although he spent his career in the military in San Diego. He then moved to the Shiloh area in 2004. 

Since his move up the chain of command, White has been attending City Council meetings on Monday nights to try and get his face and name more familiar in the community. When the position of chief first was posted, White wasn’t sure he was going to apply for the newly opened position. 

“I put my name in the hat by suggestion from some of the folks here,” he said. 

The process of finding a new chief took place over the course of four weeks, White said. 

“They put out an announcement externally, so anyone could apply for it. I believe there was 28 applicants, one person from overseas even applied,” he said.

Not knowing that he was chosen for the position, White carried on his regular day-to-day activities, until “the cat was out of the bag” and his phone lit up with 50 messages from coworkers congratulating him.

“They took the 28 applicants and got down to three that they interviewed. From that, they selected me out of all of that,” White said. “I was a lieutenant when I got selected to jump all the way up to chief, which came as a surprise for me. Strange things happen, the stars align and I was pretty surprised when I got the call.” 

White said all of the O’Fallon firefighters are a tight-knit family and are always there for each other. 

“I have that Marine Core leadership mentality, whereas I don’t like to micromanage. I really rather rely on the officers we have. We have great, awesome set of lieutenants and captains and deputy chief on staff.”

White does miss the action of being the first one through the door and being on the frontline, but he laughed as he thought about what his youngest daughter had told him and he couldn’t argue against her.

“I have to say my youngest one, Sierra, jokes at me all the time. I’ve had a few misfortunes as far as accidents go in a fire department, because I was very active and very involved. She is pretty convinced that being chief will save me from injury and damages to vehicles.” 

White is always looking for new faces around the fire house and emphasized that the department is seeking volunteers. 

“It does take a lot of your time, so keep that in mind,” he said.