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Augusta narrowing options for new fire chief

Interim leader, 3 others under consideration

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 9:05 PM
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 2:59 AM
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Without a permanent chief or emergency management director since the October retirements of four of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department’s top leaders, the city is moving closer to finding a replacement for Howard Willis.

A November job posting that went out nationwide netted 42 applicants, and the city has narrowed them down to four, Administrator Fred Russell said.

“The pool looks good, but obviously all I’ve done is looked at pieces of paper,” said Russell, declining to identify the four until the city invites finalists to Augusta for interviews.

One of the four wouldn’t have to travel far. Acting Fire Chief Chris James confirmed that he remains in the running for the job.

James has said it’s been an uphill struggle to restore morale and accomplish other needed objectives implemented at the direction of new Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan in a department in which the chief, the chief’s brother and two deputy chiefs agreed to retire under pressure and in the midst of investigations into misuse of city property and other policy violations. If he doesn’t get the job, however, he’ll “lick (his) wounds” and remain with the force he’s served since 1987, James said.

Possibly weighing on the selection of a chief is the city’s need to fill the position of Emergency Management Agency director, a job required by Georgia law. Willis held both titles, although Russell appointed another firefighter, Batallion Chief Wayne Taylor, as the interim EMA director.

Augusta hasn’t had a separate EMA director since the 2002 resignation of Dave Dlugolenski. He replaced Pam Tucker, who left for a similar job in Columbia County.

The city hasn’t advertised for the EMA slot, and Russell said he remains in favor of one person holding both.

The salary range listed on Augusta’s fire chief ad is $70,000 to $130,000. Russell said he hopes to bring candidates in for interviews early next year and have a new chief in place by March.

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raul
5523
Points
raul 12/14/11 - 09:47 pm
0
0
Fred isn't in favor of a

Fred isn't in favor of a separate EMA Director which is in itself a full time job. Maybe Fred would like to give up the Deputy Administrator position. I'm sure he could handle both jobs. Dontcha think?

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 12/15/11 - 01:34 am
0
0
This county places our safety

This county places our safety in jeopardy by making public safety and afterthought and by failing to take care of those in the field.

Riverman1
90455
Points
Riverman1 12/15/11 - 07:00 am
0
0
I have never understood the

I have never understood the propensity to bring in outsiders to something like the Fire Dept. So much of it depends on knowing the area, industries, hospitals and the plans of how to deal with fires or accidents at all these facilities.

seenitB4
93610
Points
seenitB4 12/15/11 - 08:53 am
0
0
I agree with river... Hire

I agree with river...
Hire locally--they know the streets-hospital areas--city hall (good & bad)
You can't tell me Augusta doesn't have a smart guy in the Fire Dept.

The phone co. tried sending job duties to outsiders & that didn't work either... (long ago)

Riverman1
90455
Points
Riverman1 12/15/11 - 09:46 am
0
0
Sure, someone local also

Sure, someone local also knows the tough politics he will be getting into. That one guy, Gillespie, hightailed after seeing what he had stepped in.

WikiObserver
0
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WikiObserver 12/15/11 - 10:18 am
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WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE - QUIT WASTING TIME AND MONEY SEARCHING - APPOINT CHRIS JAMES NOW!!!!!!!!

BuckeyeInGA
114
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BuckeyeInGA 12/15/11 - 05:35 pm
0
0
Right on Riverman!

Right on Riverman!

willie7
1047
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willie7 12/15/11 - 07:40 pm
0
0
To all commissioners:I am
Unpublished

To all commissioners:I am sure Fred will name chris James as one of the finalist so I hope you will vote for James. He is a good man and will make a great leader.

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