Answering the call: Cape Girardeau battalion chief prefers to be busy

Monday, November 8, 2010
Battalion chief Brad Dillow has been with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department for 15 years.
LAURA SIMON
lsimon@ semissourian.com

Anyone who works with Brad Dillow, a battalion chief with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, knows the man thrives on staying busy and on new experiences. Dillow, a native of Anna, Ill., has served with the Cape Girardeau department for 15 years but is also a full-time firefighter with the Jackson department. If managing a group 18 emergency personnel wasn't enough, Dillow took on an adjunct professor position with the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute in 2002. For his dedication to fire service and education, Dillow was honored by the school Oct. 23 and named 2010 Instructor of the Year.

Question: How did you become interested in the fire service?

Answer: I thought I wanted to be a state trooper or a fireman, which was what one of my goals was in high school. At that time, you could not take any type of firefighter training until you were 21, and so I started college for law enforcement. I got a degree for conservation law enforcement at Shawnee Community College. I went on to Southern Illinois University and obtained a four-year degree in administrative justice. During the time period I was going to SIU is when I turned 20 and talked to the fire chief in Anna, who let me on the department a bit before I was 21. It wasn't but about three to six months that I thought "this is what I want to do for the rest of my life." I started taking all types of firefighter classes and EMT training at that time, and I will say that my grades at SIU suffered.

Q: How did you end up in Cape Girardeau?

A: I've been with Cape now going on 15 years. I started out as a probationary firefighter, got through probation the first year and ... the more I did the job the more I loved it. It's a second family. The next goal I set for myself was to be captain. I started taking as many classes as I could, and I got another degree in fire science technology from Jefferson College. I did that on my days off and at nighttime. Again, I continued to take classes and go to fire training as much I could. Whenever the promotional process came up I scored No. 1 on that round of testing and was soon promoted to captain, so, I was a captain within five years of being at the department.

Q: What was that like for you to set a goal and then meet it a short time?

A: Again, that's the way I've always been, is I set a goal and I don't give up until I complete it. And once I complete it, it's time to move on to the next one. If you asked anyone around here, I like to be busy. The more stuff going on, the more calls. the more things I do, the happier I am. I never wish anything bad upon anybody in the community, but I always say if something is going to happen I hope that I can be there to try to rectify the problem and help them in that time of need.

Being a captain to me was probably one of the best positions on the fire department. And I loved that position, but I kind of got pushed into running as the acting battalion chief. So, whenever the battalion chief was on vacation or whatever, I would fill in for him. Then a position came open and finally, somebody talked me into doing testing for battalion chief. I scored No. 1 on that test well. It was what was good for the department. I'll always do more for others than I do for myself; I'll sacrifice myself before others.

Q: What do you enjoy doing most with the department?

A: I've been very active in the technical rescue part of the department. After I got off probation, that was always something that I gravitated to. We don't get very many calls like that. But when you're hanging on a side of a building 100 feet, 200 feet in the air or down in a confined space ... I thrive in that area. I like that type of stuff, so, I've been very active with our department on trying to work with our technical rescue, whether it be water rescue, confined space, structural collapse and others. That's what I teach with the University of Missouri. I use the training with the university also to keep my skills up.

The more times I'm out there teaching people, doing it, the more proficient I am.

Q: What goals do you have now that you're trying to meet?

A: Right now, as far as moving any higher in the department I can't say that I have a goal to do that. I really like being on the shift, managing the crew and being able to respond to calls, even though I don't get to be active doing something like I would like to be. The more I'm in this position, the more I see that I really would like to try to get everybody pulling in the same direction, whether it be the police department, the fire department, the ambulance service, because we're all out there together. We need to be one team, and sometimes I don't see that.

ehevern@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent Address:

1 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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