By Collin Brooks
Johnson City Fire Chief Mark Scott announced his retirement last week and the city has already started the search for a new leader.
While the city has posted the job and hopes to have interviews concluded in the next 60 days, Johnson City Manager Pete Peterson said that Scott will stay on until the new chief is settled in.
Scott joined the Johnson City Fire Department March 18, 1987. He was promoted to sergeant two years later, to lieutenant in 1994, and to captain in 1997. He was named chief in 2011.
“It has been my intent to retire when I hit my 30-year mark,” Scott said. “With that milestone…I’m happy to announce that I will be spending the summer traveling and hiking with my family. Family comes first, and I’m just grateful that I can retire to do the things I need and want to do at this point in my life.”
Peterson said the department had risen to a new level of service under Scott’s leadership.
“Our response times have improved, and through enhanced coordination with EMS, we are now responding to more medical calls,” he said. “The achievement of the ISO Class 1 rating put us in an elite group that only a handful of departments across the country are part of. We thank him for his service, and we wish him the best in his retirement.”
The city’s human resources department is operating on an aggressive timetable to find Scott’s replacement, utilizing resources from professional organizations across the state and country to recruit applicants.
“Obviously we will be looking for someone that has the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities in fire service. But equally important will be somebody that has a good background in management and management experience in a multi-million dollar a year business.”
He said they will need someone that is capable of dealing with budget issues and organizational development and help lead the department into a detailed strategic planning process, which will include accreditation for the fire department.
Peterson has been working with a task force of firefighters to garner input on the future of the department. Included in a report of recommendations from the task force were filling vacancies quickly and adding personnel in the Training Division.
“With that in mind and in preparation for the transition, some personnel changes have been made that include moving Assistant Chief Jerome Palmer to the Administration Division, promoting Capt. David Harrison to assistant chief of the Operations Division, and moving Lt. Ian Keys to the Training Division. The effective date of Chief Scott’s retirement is June 2, which will help ensure a smooth transition with the promotions and transfers,” Peterson said.
The task force report will continue to be utilized as the department moves forward.
“We’re fortunate to have that tool as we go through this process,” Peterson said. It’s an important guide for us.”