After 30-year career serving others, Gray chooses to serve again
by Neil McGahee
May 12, 2014 | 1719 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After more than 30 years of service with the Georgia Forestry Commission, Steve Gray retired at the ripe old age of 49 and began a second career not too far removed from his first — a consultant with the Incident Management Team. The Euharlee resident takes all the experience he gained as a member the Georgia Forestry Commission Incident Management Team and shares it with other states’ teams as well as the U.S. Forest Service.

“Technically, I am retired,” Gray said. “But in 2013, I and two others became consultants for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA). The three of us work together to help Georgia emergency services develop a qualified incident management team for GEMA. We take people from fire, police, public works and public health departments and train them.”

Gray said all three are certified by the U.S. Forest Service, a mandatory qualification for training others.

“We earned our qualifications by working events like state and western wildfires, hurricanes and the oil spill,” he said. “We couldn’t do this if we didn’t have our qualifications.”

Aside from his passion for emergency management and logistics, another cause dear to him is represented by his emerging ponytail.

“All my life I have worn my hair very, very short,” he said. “But a dear friend passed away recently from cancer and I am growing my hair long to eventually donate it to ‘Locks of Love,’ and it will be used to make a hairpiece from someone that loses their hair to chemotherapy.”

Name: Steve Gray

Age: 52

City of Residence: Euharlee

Occupation: Incident Management Team Consultant

Family: married 23 years

Education: graduate of Bowdon High School, Bowdon, GA

You served 30 years with the Georgia Forestry Commission. How did you get into that profession?

A: I wanted to get out of construction at age 19and get a state job.I earned a big paycheck of $898 a month, got to operate a bulldozer and put out forest fires.Who wouldn't want a job like that?I worked in Carroll County for five years, Fulton County for three years, then moved to Bartow County in 1989. I worked in the Bartow County unit as a Ranger until 2001, then was promoted to Chief Ranger in Paulding County, then in 2006 I was promoted to Chief Ranger SR.

What were some of your best experiences with the Forest Service?

A: I got to work the1996 Olympics supporting state law-enforcement by organizing supplies for the Games. In 2004, I worked the G-8 Summit in South Georgia. In 2005 I spent more than 65 days working Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Our team was responsible for receiving and distributing commodities to the area affected by the storms. We brought in tractor-trailers from all over the U. S., then we tracked them to their destination in the affected areas.I worked wildfires in Texas and spent more than 120 days on the first Okeefeenokee swamp fires. I worked more than 40 days onthe Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and more than 100 days on the second Okeefeenokee fire.

What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I would say that through training, assignments and experiences that I am able to pass this knowledge on to others sothey will be able to pass it on.

What would you consider your greatest personal or professional achievement?

A: Through goodleadership and guidance , I was able to achieve a nationalrating as a Type 3 Incident Commander and a Type 2 Operation Section.

What would most people be surprised to learn about you?

A: I retired at age 49 with 34 years of service to the state of GA.

What makes Bartow County special?

A: I believe we still have asmall townatmosphere, I see people from different religious backgrounds coming together to be a part of the body of Christ.

Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

A: Our house on the Etowah River.

What is the best advice you have received?

A: Seek the Lord, and don't major on the minor details.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

A: Dedicated, Team Player, Relaxed

If you were not in this line of work, what would you like to do?

A: Be a pilot.