Originally created 11/16/00

Mack accepts fire chief position



Augusta's new fire chief spent more than a day mulling it over with his wife before accepting the top position in the Richmond County Fire Department.

Mayor Bob Young said early Wednesday evening that Bernard Mack of Philadelphia had faxed the city a signed employment agreement, formally accepting the chief's position at a salary of $85,000, plus benefits and up to $7,000 in moving expenses.

When contacted Wednesday afternoon at his home, Chief Mack confirmed that he planned to arrive in Richmond County on Jan. 2 to start work.

"It's been an unusual three days," Chief Mack said. "My wife and I have been hammering this out. We chatted about what I'm looking at here (in Philadelphia), and what I hope to do down there in Augusta. We both think it's a great opportunity."

Chief Mack said he had been planning to go out of town this week, but the phone call from Augusta on Monday evening brought things to a halt. He had heard from a friend last week that Augusta had selected another candidate.

"It was quite a surprise," he said Wednesday.

His start date has been pushed back to January because he had already made plans to attend a two-week service communication class with the National Fire Academy.

Chief Mack spoke with the mayor Tuesday night to clarify the job's benefits and other details of working for the city.

"I'm ecstatic," Mr. Young said. "We got a fire chief before the country got a president."

At a special called meeting Monday, Augusta commissioners selected their second choice for the city's fire chief position after their first choice - Chief Stephen Woltz of the Columbus (Ohio) Division of Fire - declined an offer last week over salary terms.

Chief Mack is leaving the Philadelphia Fire Department after 28 years of service. His most recent position there is that of battalion chief and acting deputy chief. He supervises about 250 people.

"We're very excited he's coming," Mr. Young said. "He is going to be tremendous asset to our fire department."

The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department has an annual operating budget of $14 million, and the chief supervises 318 employees.

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.

Name: Bernard Mack

Age: 56

Education: Master's degree in public safety

Experience: 28 years of experience in the Philadelphia Fire Department; currently a battalion chief and acting deputy chief