The Tallahassee Fire Department has a new fire chief.
It comes after nearly 11 months without anyone at the helm.
New Chief Jerome Gaines currently of of Fort Wayne, Indiana has more than 30 years experience.
"Chief Gaines just had a great command presence. He was someone who had high ethics, morals and had a desire to make this a better fire department," Dee Crumpler, Assistant City Manager for Safety and Neighborhood Services said.
Gaines currently serves as the Assistant Fire Chief of the Fort Wayne, Indiana Fire Department.
He'll move to Tallahassee with his wife and will begin working as fire chief June 30th.
That's exactly 11 months since the former chief retired.
Firefighters we spoke to say they're happy to finally meet their new leader.
"I was excited because it was a long process. Just because of a new chief coming in you never know what to expect. But we will be supportive of him," Tonnie Rollins Fire Captain at Tallahassee Fire Station 1 said.
Officials say the process took so long because they wanted to make sure they had the best candidate.
"Our community deserves and expects nothing less and quite frankly our firefighters and personnel deserve nothing but the best," Crumpler said.
TFD on average gets more than 1,000 calls a month.
Gaines will oversee about 280 employees and a 33 million dollar budget.
"One thing that really impressed me about the Chief is we talked about the importance of not asking personnel to do anything that he wasn't willing to do and also, his willingness to listen to employees and the community," Crumpler said.
Gaines first started the interview process several months ago. It included an employee interview panel, a citizens interview panel and an executive interview panel.
His starting salary is set at 110-thousand dollars.
CITY OF TALLAHASSEE NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2014
Contact: Michelle Bono, Assistant to the City Manager, 891-8200
City of Tallahassee Names New Fire Chief
Tallahassee City Manager Anita Favors Thompson today announced the hiring of the Tallahassee Fire Department’s new Fire Chief. Jerome Gaines, currently of Fort Wayne, Ind., will begin his new position on June 30.
“The Tallahassee Fire Department has a history of strong leadership built on first-hand experience and a heart for public service,” Favors Thompson said. “Mr. Gaines is a lifelong public servant. I’m excited to welcome him to Tallahassee.”
Gaines has worked for the Fort Wayne Fire Department (FWFD) for more than 30 years and currently serves as the Assistant Chief over the Operations Division. He brings with him a variety of experiences and knowledge. Some highlights of his career include a focus on employee development and training; demonstrated leadership abilities as Section Chief, helping to oversee FWFD’s 18 fire stations and more than 350 employees; and efforts to improve area services through mutual aid with other agencies and the implementation of a computer-aided dispatching system to reduce response times.
He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Indiana Wesleyan University. He has also graduated from the Allen County, Ind., Policy Academy; National Fire Academy Arson Investigation Program; and National Fire Academy Chief Officer Leadership Program.
As the Fire Chief, he will be responsible for a total staff of approximately 280 and an annual budget of $33,942,932. He will report directly to Dee Crumpler, Assistant City Manager of Safety and Neighborhood Services.