Newsmaker Q&A: Tracey Normand in the Spotlight

Charlotte Guedry
Gonzales Fire Chief Tracey Normand

Charlotte Guedry

The Weekly Citizen

How did you become interested in your chosen career?

In 1986 I joined the Louisiana Army National Guard in Baker, La. where I grew up. The most fulfilling part was the times we helped our communities and state during disasters.  When I moved to Jackson, Ms. in 1989 I was given an opportunity to apply for the Clinton (Ms.) Fire Dept. After a year consisting of a physical agility test, two separate interviews, psychological evaluation and finally a medical physical, I was offered a position. Shortly after I started work it was evident that I had found my true calling in life. To serve your community as a firefighter/EMT is an honor. To see your actions save a life, a family’s home, or just lending that helping hand is an incredible feeling.

What do you enjoy most about your position, and what do you enjoy least?

When I became Fire Chief it was like becoming a new parent. You do your best with the knowledge you have, you rely on your peers and friends for advice and support, and you have sleepless nights dealing with the responsibility of leading a department with one of the most dangerous jobs a person can have.  I enjoy the ability to impact a person’s life in a positive way, whether a co-worker or a citizen. The worst part of this position is when everything you do cannot help a person. We train to help and make things better for our community and when all of our efforts fail that is the absolute worst part of this job.

What does a typical day consist of?

My days are anything but typical. One moment I can be in my office handling administrative parts of this job and the tones go off and I am dealing with a structure fire threatening the lives of a family and my firefighters. There are meetings with our City Officials, the other Fire Chiefs in Ascension Parish, Office of Homeland Security, not to mention meeting with senior staff to keep everyone informed and all of us working towards improving our services and moving our great department forward.

Is there a specific achievement that you are the most proud of?

It takes a team to achieve anything you do in the Fire Service. I am proud that Gonzales Fire Department not only maintained a fire insurance rating of 2, 1 being the best, but we also improved on it. I am fortunate to have been elected the President of the Ascension Parish Fire Chiefs Association, the Ascension Parish Mutual Aid Association, and just recently graduated from Leadership Ascension. All of these organizations help promote and improve the quality of life in the place I call home.

 Any advice for someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?

Treat people better than you want to be treated, it goes a long way. Be proud of your accomplishments, don’t brag on them. Take every opportunity to learn, it only prepares you for a successful future.  Do the little things that don’t get noticed as well as the major things do.