Chris James can officially do away with the title of interim fire chief.
Eight Augusta Commission members voted Monday to hire James as permanent chief of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department. James, who has served on an interim basis since the September resignations of four in the department's upper ranks, was recommended over two other finalists by City Administrator Fred Russell.
Since his appointment, James has worked closely with Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan to implement a departmental restructuring and address other issues associated with former department leadership.
The 8-0 vote took place during a special commission meeting not attended by Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles or Commissioner Corey Johnson. James received a standing ovation from those attending the meeting.
Russell said he wanted the vote on James to come sooner than the next regularly scheduled commission meeting Feb. 7 so he could continue a conversation with Glenn Jones, another fire chief finalist, about coming to work in Augusta emergency management.
James is a 25-year veteran fire employee who started with Richmond County fire department before consolidation. He has a master's degree in business administration from Brenau University and has served as training chief since the early 2000s.
Though the vote gives James the job, his salary as chief is not yet set, Russell said. Former Fire Chief Howard Willis’ salary was $101,383.