Their conversations emulated those of siblings as they stood outside the Dothan City Commission chambers Tuesday.
Twenty-five years of working in the same department tends to have that effect.
The commission recognized Dothan Fire Department Battalion Chief Shan Ash and Capts. Bill Sullivan II and Billy Mims Jr. for their 25 years of service to the city at a meeting Tuesday. The trio joined DFD in 1994 with a class of a few other rookie recruits, and the three decided they wanted to be recognized together.
“There were a couple of others that could have come that chose not to, but the three of us decided this was something we started together. Let’s do it the right way,” Sullivan said.
While Dothan maintains numerous fire stations and various shifts, the three firefighters managed to work together for several years – mainly at the downtown fire station located on Columbia Highway. The time together forged relationships that possess a familial flair in various ways.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned the firehouse is kind of like a family,” Ash said. “Like a family, you have siblings that get on your nerves.”
“I actually try to get on her nerves every chance I get,” Sullivan added with a smile.
That camaraderie, though, ensured better performances when they responded to calls. Mims said the time together allowed the firefighters to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, while Ash noted it provided insight into what made each other happy and unhappy.
“We live together (for) a third of the year,” Mims said.
The trio likely had their chances to obtain jobs at other departments, even switch careers. They credit their longevity – and their awards – to serving a great department and their families.
“Dothan to me is a great place to work,” Sullivan said. “I owe a lot to the City of Dothan for the job they’ve given me and the opportunity to raise my son here. I never thought of leaving.”
“I told the guys that 25 years is all because of families,” Ash added. “It’s 25 years of very odd schedules. It’s as much about their accomplishments as it is ours.”
DFD Deputy Chief Chris Etheredge said similar celebrations will likely occur in the next few years since the department hired several people in both 1994 and 1997.