published Saturday, December 28th, 2013

East Ridge gets new fire chief

There's a chief at the helm of the newly formed East Ridge Fire Department.

After a four-month search, the city named veteran firefighter Mike Williams to lead the department, which was recently separated from the city's public safety department.

The public safety department, which previously included the police and fire forces, was split into two distinct agencies after its former director, Eddie Phillips, retired in August.

City Manager Andrew Hyatt said Williams is the best man to lead the fire department, because he is experienced, has the respect of his fellow firefighters and is local.

"My philosophy is to really promote through the ranks within East Ridge and kind of create some career paths," Hyatt said.

There were four other applicants besides Williams, and all of them were from out of state, he said.

Part of Hyatt's decision was based on Williams' institutional knowledge of the area and public safety agencies in the region, he said.

East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert said he supports the appointment.

"[Williams is] a very experienced member of our fire department. He's an East Ridge guy. He knows all the ins and outs of East Ridge -- but he's worked his way up through the ranks," Lambert said.

Williams took over the department on Dec. 16. He's been a firefighter for the city for two decades and has been named Firefighter of the Year three times since his start in 1993. Williams' new salary is $67,500, Hyatt said.

During the search for a chief, Lambert said, Deputy Chief Mike Flynn led the department. But Flynn did not seek the chief's post. Flynn remains second in command.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon @timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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