Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Northport Council Talks to Fire Chief Hopefuls

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Northport Council Talks to Fire Chief Hopefuls

Article excerpt

The Northport City Council interviewed two longtime veterans of its fire department Monday night, as it tries to find a new fire chief.

Interviewed were Capt. Kenneth Pate, who started as a rookie firefighter with Northport more than 20 years ago, and Capt. Bart Marshall, who has been interim fire chief since former Fire Chief Glenn Wheat retired in August.

The candidate selected for the job will receive a salary between $84,000 and $114,000, said City Administrator Scott Collins.

"We are looking for leadership [in the fire chief] and making sure that citizens have every confidence and will know that they will be safe and secure," Collins said.

Mayor Bobby Herndon said that the fire chief should be a leader and disciplinarian for the department but also needs to be someone who performs well in a high pressure job.

"Everyone is expecting to do great things, but we want someone who will handle the job with leadership and professional courtesy," Herndon said.

Marshall said that he has learned a lot in the six months as interim chief, but there is still a lot the department needs to accomplish, specifically when it comes to achieving goals relating to the city's ISO rating, which is a score that communities receive regarding their fire-fighting capabilities. ISO ratings have undergone changes in scores recently, and communities are under mandates that must be met.

"We are well on the way to meeting those, but when I came on in August, our record-keeping and training was not where it needed to be," Marshall said.

As interim fire chief, Marshall said that he's also tried to focus on public education, working with city residents and businesses and trying to build partnerships. The transition after Wheat has gone smoothly, Marshall said. But he credits that to the personnel within the Northport Fire Department.

"We've got the best personnel, and going to be the best there is," Marshall said. "I'm a progressive leader, and changes are continuous. We'll work the plan, and if the plan fails, then we'll come up with a new plan."

Marshall, who is the son of a former firefighter, spent 20 years working in the Tuscaloosa Fire & Rescue Service, where he was a battalion chief for three years. …

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