By Dave Ongie
After being named the new Fire Chief of the Johnson City Fire Department last week, James Stables took a moment to reflect back on the path that took him and his family from Central Florida to Northeast Tennessee.
It certainly wasn’t without its share of twists and turns.
Stables first applied for the position of Fire Chief back in 2010, but he was not selected at that time. So he dug in went through some extra training so he would be ready just in case the opportunity presented itself again.
“I wasn’t the fire chief at that time and was interested in becoming a fire chief,” Stables said. “I wasn’t ultimately selected then, but it gave me an opportunity to grow and learn and pursue some other educational opportunities. I achieved fire chief status in two other organizations.”
When the door opened again, the six years he spent as the Chief of the City of Palm Bay Fire Department in Florida gave him the experience necessary to land the job. Stables participated in a traditional change of command ceremony last Tuesday, taking over the reigns of the JCFD from Interim Chief David Harrison.
“Johnson City was very thoughtful in how they approached replacing their fire chief,” he said. “The process that I went through to be selected was challenging at every turn, but it let me know that I was going down the right path. When I was ultimately selected, it was a blessing to my family and I to relocate to this area.”
His wife Heather and daughter Addison were able to participate in the ceremony, and Stables said he is excited for his family to start a new chapter in their lives in a community they have fallen in love with.
“One of the most humbling things for me is the respect in the community that I see,” Stables said. “Folks are greeting each other and praying – it’s just an awesome opportunity to relocate to a community that is not so fast-paced and hectic.
“There is a much different culture in the organization and in the community, and I’m honored to be a part of that. That really was the draw for me and my family.”