Clayton Focusing on Priorities

Meridian Fire Chief Anthony Clayton hit the ground running on his first day on the job.

A 27-year veteran of the department, Clayton, 51, says his top priority will be addressing the direct needs of the firefighters.

"My focus is going to be on the men. Making sure that we are professional. That we serve the people and the public and we do our job, and if I can get them, schools, and get them training, then that's what I'm going to do," Clayton said.

While addressing the direct needs of firefighters, such as them having proper equipment and higher salaries, Chief Clayton says he also is gearing up to address the needs of the newly annexed part of the city.

"We promised the people in the annexed area fire coverage," said the chief.
"The mayor and the CAO are well aware of this and I'm going to work with them and the city council, and we're going to try our best to get that coverage that they need as soon as we can."

In the future Clayton says this would mean hiring additional firefighters to cover that area, by possibly adding more at the fire station in north Meridian and/or by even building a fire station to cover the area.

Given the current budget restraints, Clayton says it's unknown at this time when more firefighters will be hired. However, he says what is known is that he is committed to staying within the department's budget.

While being the city's first African-American fire chief is historic, Chief Clayton says his priority is focusing on the work ahead.

"I'd like to be remembered as being the first progressive chief that wanted to really focus on the men. I don't want to really focus on skin color. I want to focus on ability," said Clayton. "Can you do the job?"

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  • by A FIREMAN WHO HOPES HE'S WRONG on Oct 1, 2009 at 03:11 PM
    I have worked under Chief Clayton and as a Firefighter and a Captain he was geat and well respected, But as a Battalion Chief he wasn't that good. Chief Clayton wasn't liked by all the firemen like is being made out by our great(not really)mayor. He was very rude to the citizens of Meridian and a you will find out in the days to come it's his way or the highway no middle ground. I hope thhat I am wrong and he turns out to be the best Fire Chief that the city has ever had, and he help the men of the department like he wants to. After the Chief Homan the only think left is to get better. GOOD LUCK AND I HOPE YOU DO GOOD.
  • by anonymous on Oct 1, 2009 at 11:16 AM
    This is towards Billy. The way it sounds the new Police cheif may need to have a talk with you about you saying you might set things on fire. HA
  • by anonymous on Oct 1, 2009 at 09:55 AM
    to Billy you are racist. The mayor hired him not because of his color but because he was qualified for his job. When are people like you going to stop looking at the color of someones skin whether white or black and stop dividing this community.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 1, 2009 at 09:11 AM
    Billy, you must not know Chief Clayton, the men of the MFD respect him greatly. We couldn't have asked for a better choice. He will keep the best interests of the men and the citizens of Meridian as his top priority. I am happy to have him as my boss.
  • by Billy Location: Meridian on Oct 1, 2009 at 06:03 AM
    Hey Ant,what ever you prepare to sue the city of Meridian when Cheri Barry fire you for those white boys complainting on you. We all know white ppls dont like the idea of having a black boss. Another thing, stay the strong black man that you are. You dont have to kiss butts to keep your job. Meridian Fire Department hardly pay you a dime anyway. I think Meridian have hardly any fires per day also. Maybe I will start sitting some thins a fire to get your sorry co workers off of their tale and put them to work Ha!
  • by mary Location: meridian on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:45 PM
    Explain to me why the firefighters are working shorthanded. If you can do so great FOR THE MEN, why is their pay so much lower than they should be according to other counties? Same old excuse, no money!! No wonder they have to work shorthanded, noone wants to work for the skimpy pay and benefits. Wake up Meridian these men are protecting your assets and risking their lives each and every day. A CONCERNED CITIZEN
  • by Bubba Location: on hwy 39 holding a sign will work for beer on Sep 30, 2009 at 08:05 PM
    welcome Chief Clayton, hope you get the firemen all you set out to get them with the budget restraints that are there
  • by Anonymous One Location: Meridian on Sep 30, 2009 at 04:13 PM
    Welcome Chief Clayton. You follow in the steps of an excellent chief and Meridian knows you will make it even better. Good luck.
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