Chattanooga's next fire chief, Philip Hyman, was officially sworn into the job Thursday morning before family, friends and his fellow firefighters.
"I'm not used to all this fanfare," he said from the stage of the Walker Theatre at Memorial Auditorium after taking the oath. "It's truly humbling to be selected to lead this department, and I'm honored."
Hyman brings 22 years of firefighting experience to the job and has been the department's training chief since 2013. He has held several leadership positions since 2001, including lieutenant, captain and battalion chief. He is replacing Chris Adams, who retired at the end of September.
"I truly believe service to others is why we're all here," he told the firefighters at the ceremony. "I firmly believe it's the best job in public safety and one of the best ways to give back to our community."
The Times Free Press previously reported Hyman was one of three members of the Chattanooga Fire Department to make the short list of chief contenders, including Administrative Deputy Chief Seth Miller and Battalion Chief Carlos Hampton.
Hyman is taking over the department two weeks after it attained a top rating for public protection from the Insurance Services Office — Chattanooga is the first of Tennessee's four largest cities to have such a rating.
Four main areas are evaluated to determine a fire department's classification: the fire department itself, emergency communications, water supply, and aspects of community risk including code inspections and public education activities.
Hyman said he would continue to build on those successes and work to improve not only the department's ability to protect citizens, but its firefighters as well.
"The fire service is a dangerous profession. Our firefighters must put themselves in harm's way on a regular basis, from going into burning buildings to hazardous materials calls or simply responding to a wreck on the interstate, with distracted drivers buzzing by," he said.
"As chief of this department, I believe one of my primary roles is to make sure our firefighters have the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs effectively and safely," he said. "I am very grateful that Mayor Berke and the city council approved the purchase of a second set of turnout gear for roughly a third of our department during Chief Adams' administration."
Berke congratulated Hyman during the ceremony, saying he was confident Hyman would continue building up the department to serve Chattanooga in the months and years to come.
"Our citizens ... have tremendous trust in our fire department. This trust has got to be earned," he said. "Each and every day our fire department goes out there and proves they deserve that trust."
He also applauded the department on receiving a top protection rating and the work done by Adams and others to achieve that rank.
"We're now a Class One fire department. That doesn't happen accidentally," he said. "It takes a lot of work and a lot of expertise."
Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.
This story was updated Nov. 9 at 11:35 p.m. with more information.