Scott Cordes graduated from
the Fire Protection Technology program at Southeast Community College in 1986.
Since then he spent many years as a firefighter and continues to build his
resume. He is now Norfolk’s Public Safety Director/Assistant City Administrator.
Because of his many accomplishments, he was selected as the NCCA’s 2021
Distinguished Alumni Award recipient from SCC.
“I cannot imagine where my
life would have gone had I not connected with Southeast Community College as a young
man way back when I did,” Cordes said. “It certainly changed my life and sent
me on an incredibly rewarding path that continues today.”
Cordes, 59, became a
firefighter because his grandfather, uncles, cousins, and brothers all served
as volunteer firefighters in his hometown of Scribner. His father also was the
“I grew up in a family that
was deeply entrenched in the fire service,” Cordes said. “I spent so much time
in and around it. It just seemed like a really cool way to make a living.”
Cordes began his career at
the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s office in Scribner as a fire investigator and
inspector. He became the Norfolk Fire Marshal in 1996, and then was promoted to
Assistant Chief in charge of the Prevention Bureau, which included supervision
of all code enforcement for the city. He was promoted to Norfolk Fire Chief in
2011. He said his career has been extremely rewarding over the years.
“The absolute satisfaction
that comes from helping someone in their time of need and making that outcome
better whenever possible warms the heart,” he said.
However, he points out it’s
not all shiny fire trucks saving the day. There are many difficult days in the
lives of a firefighter and a paramedic. He said leading the Norfolk Fire
Department during the heart of the pandemic was one of the most challenging
aspects of his career. It takes a toll both professionally and personally, he
“The mental health aspect has
to be the highest of priorities,” he said. “You have to take care of the people
that are taking care of the people. There is death and human suffering. Those
things tend to stay with you forever when you would prefer to forget.”
Cordes returned to school and
earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Bellevue University. He
also recently finished his master’s degree in Leadership and Executive
Coaching, also from Bellevue University.
“My decision to further my
education after SCC was to strengthen my role as the administrator of my
department and prepare for future endeavors,” he said
Cordes said he tends to work
hard and play hard and enjoys life every way he can. He and his wife Lora have
been married 37 years and have four children and six grandchildren.