Scott Cordes graduated from
the Fire Protection Technology program in 1986. Since then he spent many years
as a firefighter and continues to build on his education. Because of his
accomplishments in the field, he was selected as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni.
Cordes, 57, 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 fire chief.
“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.
“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
is working on his master’s degree in Leadership and Executive Coaching.
“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. “When I retire as fire
chief, I would like to offer some legitimate contribution in a different
capacity. My options are still wide open.”
Cordes and his wife Lora have been married 35 years and have four children and five grandchildren.