Tallahassee Fire Chief Retires, Search On For Replacement

By Julie Montanaro
UPDATED July 31, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee is conducting a nationwide search for a new fire chief.

Cindy Dick - the city's first female fire chief - is hanging up her hat after more than 25 years at the station.

Fellow firefighters presented Chief Cindy Dick with a one of a kind lamp and a downpayment on some golfclubs Wednesday afternoon.

Dick is retiring after 26 years with the fire department. The last eight as chief.

"It's exciting. It's sad. It's happy. It's just about every emotion you could probably identify going through my head," Chief Dick said.

Dick was named Florida's Fire Chief of the year in 2012 and stunned her colleagues when she announced her retirement in March to spend more time with her aging mother and teenage son.

Dick was the city's first female fire chief and one of the first female fire chiefs in Florida.

"There's always got to be somebody first and I think it's going to make it easier for those who follow and I'm proud of that, but the biggest message I think is ... that's not what it's all about," Dick said. "Everybody needs to be looked at for what they can do. What they can do. What are their abilities? What do they have to contribute?"

Wes Roberts has been appointed interim chief until the city names a replacement.

According to the city's Interim Human Resources Manager Diane Cole: the city has hired a firm to conduct a nationwide search, 16 people have applied so far and the city hopes to name a new chief by the end of September.

Dick spent her last day packing up her office and sharing her favorite firehouse meal with the guys ... sausage and rice.

"Raise your hand if I hired you or promoted you since I've been chief," Dick said during lunch. Almost every firefighter in the room raised his or her hand.

She says she is most proud that she has pushed for more training and education for firefighters and says she will always pray for their safety.

The city is not releasing the names of those who've applied or where they are from, however deputy chief John Gatlin confirms he is applying for the job.

We'll keep you posted on any finalists or decisions.

By: Julie Montanaro
March 15, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee's Fire Chief Cindy Dick moved up through the ranks to become the city's first female chief and her decision to step down took a lot of people by surprise.

Chief Cindy Dick sent an email to firefighters first thing Friday morning. The city's first female chief would be stepping down as of July 31st. She said the reasons are strictly personal. Dick wants to spend more time with her aging mother and high school bound son.

Cindy Dick: "There's always an opportunity for additional money and career opportunities, but there's never an opportunity for more time-- and I just want to focus on my family for the next several years."

Stephanie Powell, Tallahassee Fire Dept.: "We all got an email this morning and we were all completely shocked."

Dick's decision to drop out of DROP and simply retire surprised firefighters on duty Friday.

Stephanie Powell, Tallahassee Fire Dept.:"I think the Tallahassee Fire Department is going to lose one heck of a fire chief. But good for her."

Deputy Chief, Wes Roberts: "It's bittersweet. We're real proud of her. It's a wonderful period in her life to have the opportunity to do that. We're going to miss her as an organization. We're going to miss her as a mentor and a leader."

Dick has been the chief for the past eight years and a Tallahassee firefighter for 26 years. Dick was one of the first female chiefs in Florida. She won the 2009 Glass Ceiling award and last year was named Florida's fire chief of the year.

She says she'll miss the excitement and camaraderie the most

"I'll miss being out with the guys on the street. Every once in a while I still go out and jump on an engine. They think I'm there to evaluate them, but I just want to go on the call," Chief Dick said with a laugh.

The city will now begin the process of searching for a new chief. There's no timeline for that yet.

Letter of Resignation: Cindy Dick Fire Chief, City of Tallahassee

March 15, 2013

To the men and women of the Tallahassee Fire Department,

I want to take the opportunity to let you all know personally that I have recently notified the City Manager of my intent to separate from the DROP program and officially retire from the City of Tallahassee effective July 31, 2013.

This is a very important decision and one that I do not enter into lightly. The Fire Department and the City family have been a huge part of my life for 26 years now. I was blessed to enter into a profession that has been incredibly fulfilling and further blessed to be able to serve an organization as wonderful as the City of Tallahassee.

When I began my career, as a 21 year old Firefighter, I never dreamed I would have the honor of serving as Fire Chief and leading such a fantastic group of people. I have had the opportunity to work for, and with, some amazing colleagues and have learned so much from each of them. My reasons for leaving now are strictly personal. My son will be entering High School next year and I have a limited time with him before he is off to conquer the world.

Additionally, as family members age we become more aware that they won’t be with us forever and no one is promised tomorrow. That being said, I would like to dedicate the next few years to my family, although I will miss my TFD family a great deal. I have enjoyed every moment of my career, the good days and the bad, but am excited about the next phase of my life and the opportunities ahead.

I am equally excited about the future of the Tallahassee Fire Department. It is amazing to me what a great department we have, how far we have come in the last 100 years, yet we continue to consistently grow and improve. When I began my journey as Chief, we re-evaluated our department’s vision, mission, commitments and values. We defined our commitments as:

  • Excellence in service delivery

  • High standards in employee training and education

  • A high level of health and safety for all personnel

  • Exceeding customer’s expectations through flexibility and empathy

  • Active participation in our community

  • Fiscal responsibility

  • Cooperative and effective partnerships with all emergency service providers

As I review them now, I am convinced that we have upheld these commitments and each of you has done your part get us there. As a result, our department, the city and our community are better for it.

I am very excited about what will come next for TFD. I know that the best days are ahead of you yet and I am able to leave with a feeling of pride for having been part of a team that makes such a difference in the everyday lives of our citizens. I have given a lengthy notice so that I can assist with the transition to new leadership. Additionally, I have agreed to stay on, in some capacity, if more time is needed to conclude major projects and secure anew Chief.

I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunities that I have been afforded, throughout my career, and hope that I have been able to contribute to this organization and this community as much as I have received. I will miss the friendships that have been forged, the challenges that the job provided and the excitement that comes from being part of the TFD team. I am leaving with a clear memory of the way I felt when I got the news that I was hired and I have not regretted a moment since. I will miss you all. STAY SAFE!

Very Sincerely,

Cindy Dick
Fire Chief, City of Tallahassee

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