EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW | Assistant chief Malone tapped as IFD’s new chief

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By Nicole Pence

INDIANAPOLIS (July 17, 2014) - The Indianapolis Fire Department’s assistant chief has been promoted to the top spot.

Ernest Malone was introduced as the 42nd Indianapolis Fire Chief Thursday. Mayor Greg Ballard and Department of Public Safety Director Troy Riggs made the announcement. Malone was chosen over nearly a dozen other candidates who applied for the position.

"I will do my very best to serve you honorably," Malone said after being introduced.

Malone will succeed Chief Brian Sanford, who announced in April that he would step down as IFD chief and become chief of staff in the Department of Public Safety. Sanford is battling Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Malone started his career at IFD in 1986 as a firefighter and has held every merit rank in the department up to and including battalion chief.

Since 2010, Malone has served as IFD’s assistant chief of fire, assisting Sanford with the overall direction of IFD and in the development of IFD policy relating to suppression operations, health and safety, training, special operations and emergency medical services.

Malone holds an associate’s degree in fire science, a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in management. He is a native of Indianapolis and a product of Indianapolis Public Schools. He and his wife, Tammy, have three sons.

Malone sat down with FOX59’s Nicole Pence before the announcement to talk about his vision for his role as IFD chief.

“We are accountable to the citizens. We will have community and a citizen-first approach. It is our intent to have a full needs assessment. We won’t just do it internally. We want to get our arms around what our community expect from their fire department. What services are we offering that we do well and what services do you see us do,” said Malone.

Malone also talked about four areas he wants to focus on during his tenure as chief: serving customers, running the business, managing resources and developing employees.

Malone believes IFD needs to create a program for elementary students to encourage them to become involved in public service. Malone may call this program “Take a Look at Us.”

“We are in competition for best and brightest, and we need to capture those folks early. I want to develop a program where we can capture those kids in elementary school. We already have a program in high school at Arsenal Tech High School. Then, I would like to develop a bridge at the communication center where maybe some of those young people can work there in time between eighteen and twenty one. Research shows that we have lost track of those folks after high school,” said Malone.

Malone told FOX59 he is looking forward to creating his 100-day plan with input from his fellow firefighters.

“Most of all, I value the support of the 1,200 men and women that we have (in our department). I know people say that a lot. But, I am told I have a lot of support out there. I hope I have done it the right way over the last twenty eight years. I will hold them accountable, but I will stand with them, but sworn and civilian,” said Malone.

Malone will officially become chief in early August.

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