Eight Chattanooga firefighters seek chief post

Eight Chattanooga firefighters seek chief post

September 24th, 2017 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Fire Chief Chris Adams, right, congratulates Firefighter of the Year Preston Binegar, left, as Mayor Andy Berk stands near, second from left. Chattanooga Fire Department Fire Officer of the Year Captain David Tallent, stands center right beside Chief Adams at the annual awards dinner Monday night at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

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Chattanooga Fire Chief Chris Adams, left, and Mayor Andy Berke, recognize three Civilian award recipients, from left, Claudia Sears, Mary Smith and Ed Wilson for their part in assisting at the Woodmore Elementary bus accident Monday at the department's annual awards dinner at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Chattanooga Fire Chief Chris Adams, left, and Mayor...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Eight Chattanooga firefighters have tossed their hats into the ring to be the city's next fire chief.

Chief Chris Adams, who joined the Chattanooga Fire Department in 1990, plans to retire Wednesday. Mayor Andy Berke appointed him to serve as fire chief in 2015 after the retirement of former Chief Lamar Flint.

The Chattanooga candidates include administrative chiefs Seth Miller and Philip Hyman, who serve as administrative deputy chief and training chief, respectively. The other local applicants are battalion chiefs Carlos Hampton and Evan Willmore and Capts. William Andrews, David Brooks, Donielle Dean and Shawn Reese.

In all, the city has received 62 applications from candidates across the United States, city spokeswoman Marissa Bell said in a recent email. The selection process is still underway.

"The internal team is still narrowing down the field, but expects to submit three recommendations to the mayor soon for him to review and make a selection," Bell said.

The city advertised the fire chief position on its website between July 25 and Aug. 1, she said. The goal is to have a new fire chief in place by the end of September to coincide with Adams' retirement.

A list of fire chief applicants provided by the city's Department of Human Resources shows eight other candidates from Tennessee and 46 others ranging from the Southeast to as far away as Alaska and California.

Several Chattanooga leaders praised Adams for his service and strategic vision, with Adams receiving a standing ovation during a Chattanooga City Council meeting last month.

Council Vice Chairman Ken Smith said from the dais he hated to see Adams step down but was glad he would be able to spend more time with his family.

"We would not be where we are today without leaders like you in this city who are willing to give, and your family being willing to give, all they have over the years," Smith said. "I just want to say thank you."

In 2015, the city added two "quick response vehicles" — modified Ford Explorers equipped with medical supplies — to help the fire department better respond to the high percentage of medical calls it received. At the time, Adams touted the concept as a faster and less expensive means of handling nonfire emergencies than deploying fire trucks.

Berke has credited the adoption of the two vehicles, each staffed by two firefighters, as a factor in the city receiving a $1.8 million grant to pay for 14 new firefighters for two years.

Adams also pushed for supplying firefighters with extra sets of turnout gear, which materialized as a three-year replacement program approved in Chattanooga's 2018 budget. Spare sets of turnout gear give firefighters opportunities to avoid prolonged exposure to hazardous materials, such as soot and asbestos, that adhere to their protective suits.

Berke has thanked Adams for his "tireless efforts" in a recent statement.

"Chattanooga is fortunate to have a dedicated leader serving the Chattanooga Fire Department and working every day to protect lives and property in our city," Berke said.

"Chief Adams has shown incredible talent, compassion and persistence as he advocates for the needs of firefighters while ensuring they are equipped to both prevent and handle emergencies — he exhibited remarkable leadership as our department supported victims of the Woodmore tragedy."

Six children died as a result of the Woodmore Elementary School bus crash in Brainerd on Nov. 21, 2016.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.

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