Originally created 12/28/96

List of Augusta fire chief finalists narrowed to three



The city's controversial search for a permanent fire chief could end as early as Monday, when commissioners are expected to choose from three finalists in a special called meeting.

The list of finalists was narrowed from six to three Friday during a meeting between Mayor Larry Sconyers, Mayor Pro Tem Freddie Handy and city administrator Randy Oliver.

"I feel we have selected three good candidates," Mr. Handy said.

Acting Chief Dennis Atkins is one of the three finalists. The other local applicant, Assistant Chief Jerry Newman, was not recommended.

Neither were Robert D. Junk, fire chief of Canton, Ga., and John W. Devlin, deputy fire chief of Northglenn, Colo., who had been among the six finalists.

Commissioners voted Nov. 22 to appoint Butch Murdock as acting fire chief, but they rescinded that vote Dec. 3 and appointed Mr. Atkins.

They also voted Dec. 3 to waive the college education requirement for the permanent fire chief.

Fourteen people applied for the position. The three finalists are:

- Atkins, acting chief of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department. Mr. Atkins has worked for the city fire department for 24 years.

He was trained as a certified public manager at the University of Georgia and has served as a battalion chief since 1982.

- Ronnie Few, fire chief of East Point, Ga., fire department. Mr. Few has an associate's degree from DeKalb College in fire science and is a candidate for a bachelor's degree in fire administration/engineering from the University of Cincinnati.

He has 23 years of experience in firefighting.

- L. Charles Smeby, Jr., executive director of the National Fire Protection Agency and a former battalion chief for Prince George County Fire Department in Maryland. Mr. Smeby has a master's degree in public policy and a bachelor's degree in fire protection engineering, both from the University of Maryland.

He has 25 years of experience fighting fires.

The Monday meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on the eighth floor of the Municipal Building.