The man who would be chief

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; After reviewing applicants for a potential fire chief, the Personnel Committee narrowed down the choices to two prospective candidates, which were interviewed on Thursday.

The first candidate considered for the position was Capt. Tommy Tate of Demopolis Fire Department. Tate had been appointed to interim fire chief after George Davenport&8217;s retirement last year. Although Tate has since stepped down from the position, he has been overseeing administrative duties with the department.

During Tate&8217;s interview with the city council, Councilman Jack Cooley said, &8220;Given the sequence of events regarding salary negotiations, I want to know, is all of that behind you?&8221;

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Tate said, &8220;I feel the same way. I have learned a lot in six months and there is a lot more there than I thought.&8221;

Cooley also asked Tate about his perspective on the fire department&8217;s current situation.

Tate said, &8220;The department is doing pretty good, but there are some that are a little uneasy because they don&8217;t know what&8217;s going to happen with the chief situation.&8221;

Cooley also addressed the salary issue, asking if Tate had come to an agreement with the Finance Committee.

Tate said, &8220;Originally it was $62,000 but the bottom line is $58,000.&8221;

Councilman Woody Collins asked Tate about his future plans for the fire department.

He said, &8220;If there were two things that you would like to see done, two of the most pressing concerns, what would they be?&8221;

Tate said, &8220;I would like to get an assistant chief and get a new captain.&8221;

According to Tate, in order for the department to open a third station, they would need to hire five new people by the fall. Furthermore, due to the requirements for certification, Tate said, they needed to hire these people as soon as possible.

Councilman Cooley asked whether or not Tate felt there was someone he had in mind that would be a good candidate for an assistant chief.

The second candidate the council interviewed Thursday was Ronnie Sew, a former fireman for the Washington D.C. Fire Department. Sew said he has had 30 years of fire service experience.

Councilman Cooley said, &8220;One of our biggest problems has been with overtime, how would you remedy that?&8221;

Sew said that he has experienced this in the past and the best solution is to put policies in place that monitor the amount of time each employee works.

According to Sew, the most effective way to manage a department is to get the firefighters involved in the process.

Regarding salary, Sew said he has told the mayor where he stands on an amount.

Sew also said that in his experience, he has never had the money to do what he needed in a department. Therefore, he said he was committed to going after grants and any money that would benefit the department.

In the recent past, Sew had taken a break from the fire service to work with his family&8217;s construction business. Councilman Collins asked Sew what made him want to come back to the fire service.

After the interviews, the city council met in regular session, where there was intended to be a report from the Personnel Committee. After meeting in executive session, the council announced that there was still no recommendation for a fire chief.

According to Mayor Cecil Williamson, the council plans to &8220;meet further to discuss&8221; the candidates and hopes to name a new chief in the next few weeks. She also said at this time, they are not considering any other applicants.