Former Deputy Chief Randy Phillips Chosen as Topeka Fire Chief

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Randy Phillips will succeed Craig Duke as fire chief in Topeka, after serving as acting chief.

City Manager Bill Cochran made the announcement at a news conference Wednesday.

This will be Phillips’ 27th year as a firefighter. He was one of three internal candidates the city was considering.

Phillips’ family is made up of firefighters: his father Dennis Phillips served as chief for two years and his uncle Eddie Phillips also served in the department. Both are retired.

“I consider it a great honor and a great responsibility to lead this great department,” Phillips said. “We have the opportunity over the next few years in the fire service to really do some good things.”

Randy Phillips shares his excitement for his new role as chief of the Topeka Fire Department during the announcement on Wednesday.

Phillips rose through the ranks of the department, serving as captain and battalion commander. Since former Chief Duke’s retirement, Phillips had served as acting deputy chief. He was also president of Local 83, the local union of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

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His experience will do him good, Phillips said. He said the job of a firefighter is one where different levels of experience are needed to understand the job “top down”.

Dennis Phillips pins the Topeka Fire Department Chief's badge on his son Randy on Wednesday.

“I think it helps make you effective as a leader,” he said.

Phillips thanked his family for helping him get to where he is today. The badge pinned to his chest has a special meaning for him.

“It was actually my dad’s badge when he was a chef,” he said.

Wearing his father’s badge made him “very proud” but also reminded him of his responsibility.

“We have a saying in firefighters: you always try best to leave the job to those who come after you,” he said. “Just like those who came before you.”

Topeka Fire Chief Randall Phillips told the acting city manager that his badge was the same one his father had when he was the department's fire chief.

Phillips, 50, was born and raised in Topeka. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1994 with a degree in accounting in business administration. A year later, he was hired by the fire department, where he has been ever since.

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Topeka Fire Chief Randall Phillips, in white, poses with his family after accepting the new role during a ceremony outside the Topeka Fire Department headquarters.

Phillips highlighted projects and initiatives proposed by the department, including advanced life support service at first responder level.

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“We have a lot of very talented and experienced staff,” Phillips said. “We have a lot of energy that wants to move the department forward.”

Alex Edwards is the local political reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] or via twitter @AMEdwards21.

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