Mark Whiteside is the new chief of the New Albany Fire Department.
The board of aldermen appointed Whiteside as chief on Aug. 4.
Mark Sides was also appointed as the new deputy chief.
Whiteside, who grew up in Muncie, Ind., started working in the fire service when he was about 15 years old as a junior firefighter.
He joined the New Haven Volunteer Fire Department in 1991 and still serves there. In 1993, Whiteside also started volunteering for the New Albany Fire Department.
The New Albany Fire Department is a “combination” department made up of paid firefighters and volunteers.
Whiteside retired from Cooper Tire after 21 years and went to work full-time for the New Albany Fire Department in 2011.
Whiteside replaces former New Albany Fire Chief Steve Coker, who resigned due to health reasons.
Whiteside had previously served as deputy chief of the department since 2016.
Sides, the new deputy chief, has been with the New Albany Fire Department full time for almost 24 years. He was also a volunteer with the New Albany Fire Department for two years and a volunteer with North Haven for about 10 years.
Prior to being appointed deputy chief, Sides was a captain with the New Albany Fire Department for almost 14 years. Sides was raised in Ashland but moved to New Albany in 1981.
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to be a firefighter and to serve the community,” Sides said.
Sides said he likes providing a service to help the citizens and that he was humbled to receive the promotion. He said he and Whiteside have both worked hard for a long time to get where they’re at.
Sides and Whiteside are both certified medical responders as well as certified fire investigators and inspectors.
Whiteside said he was “humbled and honored” to be appointed chief. But Whiteside said he thinks he was actually more excited that Sides was appointed deputy chief.
Whiteside said he went to his first fire station when he was 6 years old, and from that moment he was hooked on the fire service.
“I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream,” Whiteside said.
Whiteside said he hopes to leave the department in better shape than he found it.
He noted that there is a lot of camaraderie in the fire service, which he described as being like a family. There are also a lot of unknown situations that firefighters encounter from one day to the next, he added.
For instance, he said the department recently responded to a fire at an apartment building with the possibility of someone entrapped. Then there was a vehicle wreck with entrapment, and the grass was on fire.
“Our crews had to split,” Whiteside said. “I had to make a quick decision on who was going where and what we were going to do.”
Asked what it takes to be a good chief, he said it’s all about having “good people around you. You’ve got to have a good staff.”
Whiteside added, “Fortunately, the staff that we have here right now is an extremely good staff, and they’re going to make whoever sits in my position be successful.”
The No. 1 goal is to train the young firefighters so they can lead the department in the future, Whiteside said.
“We want to make sure that everybody’s qualified to run this department and take care of their community like we think they should,” he said.