Chris James appears to be choice for Augusta fire chief

Arizona candidate could be hired as emergency management director

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 3:43 PM
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 1:44 AM
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City Administrator Fred Russell plans to name Interim Fire Chief Chris James as the next permanent fire chief, officials said Wednesday night.

Augusta officials refused to go on the record because they were not authorized to reveal Russell’s pick, but they confirmed James will be the one presented to the Augusta Commission for a vote.

The official announcement about Russell’s recommendation is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.

Commissioner Joe Jackson, who had expressed some hesitation about hiring from within the department, said late Wednesday he “can support James and (is) going to support James,” a 25-year employee, as fire chief.

The city has been without a permanent chief since the September retirements under pressure of Chief Howard Willis; his two deputy chiefs; and Willis’ brother, a battalion chief.

Since then, James has displayed a willingness to take on the department’s challenges, and showed initiative in his preparation for an interview with commissioners Tuesday, Jackson said.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said Russell’s pick was “not necessarily my first choice,” but might become so. “I need to sit down
and reflect on these things,” he said.

A candidate who impressed several of the commissioners, Peoria, Ariz., Emergency Manager Glenn Jones, might get to return to Georgia as well.

Augusta also has a vacant position of emergency management agency director, a title that Willis held along with chief. James said during his interview that he believes EMA director should be a separate position integrated with the fire department.

“The No. 2 guy would fit in our government well,” Jackson said.

Commissioner Grady Smith said he hadn’t been informed of Russell’s recommendation, but as a businessman sees the benefits of promoting from within.

“You show the folks under you, the everyday firemen, that there’s a chance one day for a promotion for me,” Smith said.

Fred Russell’s recommendation is not binding; it must be approved by a commission vote.

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willie7
955
Points
willie7 01/18/12 - 10:45 pm
0
0
James will do a great job as
Unpublished

James will do a great job as chief.
Hope he is appointed.

seenitB4
86829
Points
seenitB4 01/19/12 - 07:27 am
0
0
I wish him luck....he knows

I wish him luck....he knows the city-knows the firemen--knows Augusta politics..

Riverman1
83618
Points
Riverman1 01/19/12 - 08:18 am
0
0
Knowing the politics is

Knowing the politics is important in Richmond Cty. He does. He's the man for the job.

augustadog
88
Points
augustadog 01/19/12 - 08:38 am
0
0
"retirements under pressure"

"retirements under pressure" ??
If I were Howard Willis I would sue the Commission for giving him heart problems. Once the political machine and Union stooges get after you there is no let up. He did a damn good job and was loyal for many years

I wish James well. Please don't be a puppet to the Commission!

Right on
187
Points
Right on 01/19/12 - 04:57 pm
0
0
Excellent, he is educated, a

Excellent, he is educated, a graduate of leadership Augusta, a wonderful Rotarian, and he knows the ends and outs of our Fire department!!!!

betcha2
42
Points
betcha2 01/19/12 - 05:10 pm
0
0
Perhaps there is hope for the

Perhaps there is hope for the leadership in our government after all. Learning from mistakes can be the most lasting learning session one can experience. Education, dedication to the job, (not self interest), honesty and good ethics are all qualities of Chief James. The Administrator has made a wise choice, let's hope the Commissioners follow suit.

betcha2
42
Points
betcha2 01/19/12 - 05:12 pm
0
0
good job, Chief.

good job, Chief.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 01/19/12 - 06:40 pm
0
0
College education?
Unpublished

College education?

itsanotherday1
42900
Points
itsanotherday1 01/19/12 - 09:45 pm
0
0
As long as he is not beholden

As long as he is not beholden to, or connected with, any of the downtown power brokers I say good. Nice to see local folks do well; and I've not seen one negative comment about the man.

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