COUNCIL BLUFFS — For retiring Council Bluffs Fire Chief Alan Byers, the honors and praises that came his way at a good-bye reception Friday needed to include the entire fire department, he said.
“This is about us,” Byers told some 120 family, friends and dignities at the Council Bluffs Public Library. “I could talk for days about what we accomplished, and I would put us up against anybody.”
Byers is leaving after 35 years in the department and 19 years as its chief. A native of Indianapolis before moving to Clarinda, Byers joined the department in 1978, becoming chief in 1994.
“It’s been a hell of a ride,” he said.
Byers received numerous awards, including a certificate of outstanding service from Mayor Tom Hanafan, who praised Byers’ guidance during the city’s tough — but successful — battle against floodwaters in 2011.
“For 110 days, Alan had to make decisions that everyone had to live up to,” Hanafan said. “And they did.”
State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds said Byers was first chief in the state to successfully push for smoke detectors in residential homes. Today, 50,000 Iowa homes have smoke detectors at the ready should the need arise, he said, with 639 Iowans alive today because detectors got them out of harm’s way safely.
“This is a tribute to you,” he told Byers.
“I was given a great opportunity,” Byers said. “I’ve been blessed.”