After six years of hard work and formal education, Danville Fire Chief Woody Ball has been designated an executive fire officer by the National Fire Academy.
Ball is one of only 18 executive fire officers in Kentucky, and most represent communities in Louisville and northern Kentucky, said City Manager Ron Scott during Monday’s City Commission meeting.
“In our ‘City of Firsts,’ Chief Ball is the first executive fire officer to serve in Danville-Boyle County or any surrounding county,” Scott said.
The nearest fire official with that designation is in Richmond, according to the city manager.
Scott and city commissioners formally recognized Ball for his achievement. Ball said outside the meeting that he academically prepared himself for two years in order to qualify for entry into the rigorous program. Each year, only 250 executive-level fire officials are allowed into the program.
“Most (come) from much larger metropolitan areas,” Scott said during the meeting. “This is quite an accomplishment for a city of our size.”
Ball visited the National Fire Academy’s Maryland headquarters four times over the past four years for intensive two-week residencies.
He also completed extensive graduate-level coursework outside of the formal residencies. Because the requirements are so demanding, only about 60 percent of those admitted into the academy successfully complete the program, Scott said.
“It is a lot of work,” Ball said outside the meeting. “But I did it to become a better leader and to make the fire department better.”
The fire chief is determined to continue his education in and outside of Danville. He currently is taking a graduate-level online course in organizational analysis with Stanford University in California. Ball hopes to complete a graduate degree in homeland security as well as learn more Chinese and Spanish language skills.
“If you know Woody, he never rests and will do anything to make this community a better place to live,” Scott said.
City officials including Police Capt. James Monroe, also lauded police officer Ricky Sellers. The Boyle County chapter of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association recently honored Sellers, handler of the department’s K9 unit, with an award for distinguished service.
“Ricky, by far, is our best officer when dealing with drugs and the narcotics community,” Monroe said.
Mayor Bernie Hunstad thanked Ball, Monroe, Scott and other city officials for their hard work during the recent vice-presidential debate at Centre College.
“It was just a great public appearance for our city,” Hunstad said.