City Manager J.D. Spohn presents Scott Richards and Steve Anderson with gift bags in honor of their 30 years of service with the city.
In 1989, Steve Anderson and Scott Richards began working for the city of Ardmore. Anderson first started with the street department before transferring over to the water treatment plant within a year. Richards started with the Ardmore Fire Department and has risen through the ranks to become a shift commander.
The pair shared insight into their positions and discussed some of the duties they perform every day.
Anderson, who works as an operator at the water treatment plant, said treating the water before sending it out into the city is the most challenging aspect of the work.
“Treating the water is a full-time job — just keeping up with department of environmental quality regulations, and making sure the water is presentable, clean and safe,” Anderson said. “Those are our three main objectives.”
He said 99% of the water in the City of Ardmore comes from the Lake of the Arbuckles. However, if there is a problem with a waterline the city can also pull from Lake Scott King, City Lake, Lake Jean Neustadt or Mountain Lake if needed.
One of his favorite things about working for the city is interacting with the people.
“We don’t get out in the public a lot but sometimes we do — explaining how the water
treatment works and what we do, what we don’t do and what we can do to help the customers,” Anderson said. He said one of the most common problems they hear is about dirty water.
“When people call in about dirty water, nine times out of 10, it’s not really dirty. It’s air.” Anderson said. “Whenever the water temperature changes — like from outside coming inside — it sits in the pipes for awhile. That as the water comes out of the faucet air forms and it comes out looking milky white.”
He said when a clear glass is filled with what looks like milky water, if it is allowed to sit for a few minutes it begins clearing up from the bottom of the glass upwards. He went on to talk about another issue that sometimes comes up — when the water has an odor.
“That happens whenever the lakes turn over as it gets colder,” Anderson said.  “It’s called stratification and happens when the cold water on top moves to the bottom and the warm water on the bottom goes to the top. As it mixes, some of the stinky water from the bottom will settle near the middle and comes into the plant.”
Richards said the Ardmore Fire Department is divided into three battalions that work 24 hours on and 48 hours off. As a shift commander, he is in charge of one of those shifts. He said they have day-to-day activities such as making sure the trucks are checked and all the equipment is in order as well as other broader activities they have to plan in advance.
The shift commander communicates with the other commanders, the chief and the assistant chief to keep track of information such as equipment repairs. He is also busy interacting with his own shift.
“I coordinate with the captain who’s under me and he’s basically the hands-on guy,” Richards said. “But I have to watch my shift, see how they perform on a fire scene, determine if there are any training needs that we have, and then prescribe training to fit my specific shift.”
He said the shift commander does not personally go out to respond to small car fires or dumpster fires, but when a fire is a larger grass fire or a large structure fire either the commander or the captain will be on site at the fire. They base the decision on the conditions.
“if the conditions are terrible and we think it could get away, then the shift commander goes and he oversees that,” Richards said. “You’re probably going to have multiple units coming in — not only Ardmore but other places — and it’s better to get your pieces set up on the game board before you start calling people back in.”
He said once he gets to a scene he must make decisions quickly.
“You have to roll up on a fire, determine what jobs need to be done and what order those jobs need to happen and assign available resources that fast,” Richards said with a snap of his fingers. “You have to be fast but you also have to be accurate and you can’t waste resources. It’s not like I have a lot of fire fighters at my disposal. I can’t screw up and send somebody to do stupid jobs and the important jobs not get done.”
He said he’s seen several changes over the course of his career. From improvements in equipment and technology to updated procedures. However, sometimes everything old becomes new again.
“What’s funny to me is after having done it for 30 years, there are things that we did when I first started that we were trained out of doing because those things weren’t correct,” Richards said. “In a span of time you start to see things, things start to circle back around. It’s like, maybe those guys back then knew what they were talking about after all.”