‘He was a fireman’s fireman’
THREE RIVERS — “He was a fireman’s fireman,” Three Rivers Fire Department deputy chief Jeff Bloomfield said Friday as he recalled former Three Rivers fire chief Danny Cross. “Forward-thinking, hard-working, dedicated, passionate.”
Cross, 68, who passed away Dec. 8 in Beaumont, Texas, spent 40 years in the fire service. Twelve of those years — from 1996-2008 — he led the Three Rivers Fire Department.
“He was a very calm and good-humored individual,” city manager Joe Bippus said. “He was a planner. When he was in charge of the Fire Department, he was always thinking five to 10 years out.”
One of his major accomplishments was improving the city’s ambulance service.
When he was hired, the department had limited ALS (advanced life support) and six full-time members; within a few years, it had ALS and 12 full-time members.
He also brought 218, the TRFD’s current ladder truck, to the department.
Cross was a part of the reason his successor in the chief’s role, Dan Tomlinson, returned to the Three Rivers Fire Department from the Portage Fire Department.
Earlier in 2008, Tomlinson had stopped by the station to do some historical research. Cross asked him “are you ready to come back?”
“You know how that ended,” Tomlinson said.
He praised Cross as “one of the most analytical people I’ve ever met — his ability to gather data and analyze it was amazing.”
Bloomfield, whom Cross hired, promoted to captain and recommended as interim chief in 2008, echoed those thoughts.
“He was just an awesome mentor — very analytical, statistical and forward-thinking,” Bloomfield said. “Three Rivers Ambulance and Fire Department are stronger because of him.”
Bippus lauded Cross’ integrity.
“He was someone you instantly liked and knew you could trust,” Bippus said. “He had that kind of character.
“He always put the interest of the city first.”
Elena Meadows is a former Commercial-News managing editor who still enjoys contributing to the paper.