Palm Beach County Fire Rescue's new leader would come from within the department under a proposal to make Fire Marshal Jeff Collins the next fire chief. Collins, now a deputy chief, should take over for retiring Fire Chief Steve Jerauld according to the recommendation from County Administrator Robert Weisman.
The County Commission on Feb. 28 will be asked to ratify the selection.
"It is overwhelming to be tasked with such a huge responsibility," Collins, 45, said Wednesday. He said his focus as chief would be to "build a team and create an environment where our people can carry out their jobs as safely and effectively as possible."
Collins' 17 years of experience with the county's Fire Rescue Department as well as his planned approach to dealing with personnel and department matters made him the best suited for the post, Weisman said. He was the highest ranked of the internal candidates in the running, according to Weisman.
"I have every confidence that Chief Collins will successfully lead the department in the coming years," Weisman wrote in his proposal to county commissioners.
Collins would be paid $180,000 a year and start work March 1, if approved by the County Commission.
"Promoting someone within the ranks, who has experience [would] be a good decision," said Palm Beach County Mayor Steven Abrams, who heads the County Commission.
Collins, originally from Virginia, joined the county's Fire Rescue department in 1996. He is a state certified firefighter and has a bachelor's degree in fire protection engineering.
Collins is president of the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association.
Filling existing vacancies -- on hold amid the economic downturn -- and finalizing a new union contract are among the initial issues facing the new fire chief.
Collins said his administrative experience and work on the contract negotiating team would help him as fire chief.
Union representatives as well as the county's Fire Rescue Advisory Board participated in reviewing the five applicants vying for the fire chief post, according to Weisman.
Jerauld in January announced that he planned to retire after three years as fire chief and 35 years with Fire Rescue. Jerauld replaced long-serving fire chief Herman Brice.
Jerauld is leaving three months earlier than his deadline for DROP -- the deferred retirement option plan, where, as an incentive to step aside, workers get a lump-sum payment from an investment account in addition to the start of their pensions.
Written by South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix