Glenn Jones, the emergency management and safety coordinator in Peoria, Ariz., “brings a little wider experience than just being a fire chief, which is pretty impressive,” Commissioner Matt Aitken said.
During the hourlong interview, five commissioners peppered Jones with questions about his experience dealing with everything from morale and teen explorer programs to nuclear reactors.
“We have a major medical complex here, we have Fort Gordon, we have Plant Vogtle with the nuclear reactors and we have SRS,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said. “Do you think because we are more or less centrally located between those entities you would have to take a different approach?”
Jones said Peoria is within the 50-mile emergency planning zone of Palo Verde, the largest and latest nuclear plant built in the U.S., and he regularly incorporates its presence into disaster plans.
Asked by Commissioner Matt Aitken about morale issues among Augusta firefighters, Jones said they were common across all departments.
“The way I like to combat a lot of that is basically to be out there," Jones said. "I don't believe as a fire chief your job is to sit in an office somewhere and dictate memos.”
One of the complaints raised by the Augusta firefighters' union about former Augusta Fire Chief Howard Willis was that he rarely communicated with the city's 18 fire stations.
Commissioner Joe Jackson asked Jones how he worked under pressure.
“I'm a big fan of having a very big Rolodex up front” and “having the people that work that can answer those questions,” Jones said.
Jones said he had always aspired to be a fire chief. He acknowledged he'd never managed a team as large as the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department.
“Three-hundred and fifty is a lot of people to be responsible for,” Jones said. “It also means there's some staff below me that can be accountable.”
After the interview, Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said Jones was “very impressive.”
Jackson said he, too, was impressed, and in light of Jones' background, might consider him to hold both the fire chief and emergency management agency director positions as Willis did.
“If you have somebody with both qualifications, I don't see why they couldn't," Jackson said. "As (Jones) said in the interview, you surround yourself with good people and it's a big team effort.”
The last of three finalists to interview for the job as fire chief is Interim Chief Chris James, who will do so Tuesday. City Administrator Fred Russell said he would like to hire a permanent chief by March.