Originally created 10/14/00

Fire chief aspirants reviewed



The top three candidates to fill Richmond County's vacant fire chief position work for departments larger than Augusta's and have an average of 28 years of experience.

The names and resumes of the candidates were faxed to the Augusta Commission on Friday afternoon.

"It says a lot of Augusta-Richmond County that people of that caliber want to come work here," Mayor Bob Young said.

The candidates are:

Douglas Lewis, 44, division chief of the rescue division of the St. Petersburg, Fla., Fire & Rescue Department. He directly supervises 93 people and is responsible for an $8.2 million operating budget. He has 25 years of experience, all with St. Petersburg's fire department.

"The strong suits I have are human resources and EMS (Emergency Medical Service), and I think that will play a big role in the future of this department," Chief Lewis said. "I also think I will bring to the table a participatory type of leadership."

Bernard Mack, 56, a battalion chief and acting deputy chief for the Philadelphia Fire Department, which has an operating budget of more than $146 million. He supervises half of the city's operating forces, about 250 people. Chief Mack has 28 years of experience - all in the Philadelphia Fire Department - and a master's degree in public safety.

On why he would make a good chief, Chief Mack said: "My background. As I went up through the ranks, I got my academic education and followed it by working into (increasingly higher) staff positions. I've covered almost anything there is to cover."

Stephen Woltz, 61, chief of the Columbus, Ohio, Metropolitan Fire Department, which has 1,600 employees and an operating budget of $111 million. He has 31 years of experience - all in Columbus - and a law degree.

He said he would be the best choice for a chief because, "I have a lot of experience ... I am qualified enough to run a large department, so I can run a department of any size."

Each of the top candidates has pursued continuing education courses in fire safety and officer training. Two have been certified as executive fire officers by the National Fire Academy, and the other has completed half of the required courses for certification.

The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department has an annual operating budget of $14 million, and the fire chief supervises 318 employees. The salary for Richmond County's fire chief ranges from $65,287 to $104,457.

The three men were among a group of seven interviewed via telephone by the city administrator, the mayor and the mayor pro tem. For their second round of interviews, the candidates will travel to Augusta for an in-person interview with the Augusta Commission, which has been tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

"During that time, we will do an extensive background check and a criminal history check," City Administrator Randy Oliver said. "For these types of employees, though, it's usually not an issue."

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.