Sandy Springs changing of command ceremony for its fire department Tuesday evening. Retiring Chief Jack McElfish (left) passes the “speaking trumpet” to incoming Chief Keith Sanders (right) outside the Sandy Springs City Hall building.

Two men carried silver fire axes, book-ending the five-man color guard that marched before and after Tuesday’s formal change of command ceremony in Sandy Springs. After a call to order and invocation, City Manager John McDonough spoke. Calling retiring Chief Jack McElfish a proven, capable leader and innovator, McDonough said he felt proud because everyone in the fire service nationwide either knew McElfish personally or knew of him.

Mayor Rusty Paul presented a proclamation calling Oct. 21 Chief Jack McElfish Day. He expressed what he called “mixed emotions” about the city of Sandy Springs’ first change of command ceremony for the fire chief position. Paul said the city was “no longer a child or adolescent city” and is a city that is “closer to adulthood” as he acknowledged his respect for McElfish’s work building the city’s fire department from the ground up.

“I don’t know anyone who’s earned his retirement as much as he has,” Paul said of McElfish.

City leaders watched alongside police and fire officials, friends and family as leadership changed hands through two symbols: the handing off of the fire chief helmet and the “speaking trumpet.” Chief Keith Sanders’ wife, Angie Sanders, pinned his badge on his uniform, and then McElfish handed her a bouquet of flowers and hugged her.

McElfish and Sanders each thanked McDonough for hiring them and entrusting them with the responsibility of the fire department.

“I appreciate the trust you had in me,” McElfish said to McDonough, a sentiment that Sanders echoed.

The ceremony concluded as it began, with bagpipers playing and the color guard marching in the setting sun.