Activist sparks question again over fire chief job

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH

Interim chief doesn’t meet minimum qualifications to hold the position

BY JAMES HARPER
DAYTONA TIMES

Questions still are being raised about why Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm has not hired a permanent fire chief.

131010_dt_front01The Daytona Times also has learned that Interim Fire Chief Dru Driscoll does not meet minimum qualifications to hold the job. However, Chisholm has allowed him to apply for the position.

It’s been five months since Daytona Beach stopped taking applications to replace Fire Chief Jim Bland who retired earlier this year.

The Daytona Beach Fire Chief’s job opening ran from March 27 to May 3. Fifty-three people applied – 24 from Florida and 29 from out of state.

Process questioned again
Last month, Daytona Beach Public Information Officer Susan Cerbone told the Times that finalists had not been selected, which was noted in an article on Sept. 5.

When asked why Chisholm hasn’t narrowed the list down to a group of finalists, Cerbone said she was told “the selection process is the city manager’s prerogative.”

The issue over Chisholm not hiring a fire chief was raised during the Oct. 2 city commission meeting by community activist and former NAACP president Marjorie Johnson.

“I’m concerned why we have not hired a fire chief. People are asking why and when is it going to happen,” said Johnson directly to the city manager and the members of the commission to hushed silence.

“I hope you are not planning on slipping someone in the back door like you did with (Police Chief Mike) Chitwood. We need to diversify our workforce. We had an African-American fire chief and y’all got rid of him,” she asserted.

“I would like to see an African-American in that job,” concluded Johnson who also told the commission she went to the human resources department and learned the job required at least a bachelor’s degree.

Qualified Black
Johnson also noted that longtime Daytona Beach firefighter Lt. Larry Stoney Jr., who is Black, will have a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix by January 2014. He and Driscoll were among 53 applicants for the job. Stoney has a bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman.

Driscoll has an A.S. in fire science from Keiser College and “anticipates” getting his B.S. in public safety in July 2014, according to the application he submitted for the job.

If chosen fire chief, Stoney would be the second Black to hold the position in the city’s history.

The city’s first Black fire chief, Dwayne A. Murray, held the position for just a year – from January 2007 to January 2008. He was the city’s 16th fire chief.

In March 2010, Stoney was promoted as the department’s public information officer.

Presently, Stoney is responsible for working with the media to disseminate information to the public on the various activities and initiatives of the fire department. He has 11 years with the fire department, serving as a firefighter, driver/engineer, lieutenant, chaplain, and critical incident stress team leader.

Job requirement
According to the job posting on the city of Daytona Beach’s website, the fire chief’s pay range is between $81,052 to $143,578 and requires a bachelor’s degree in fire science, emergency medical services, public administration, or a related field.

The city also is looking for someone with “10 years of progressively responsible full-time experience in an organized paid fire department or related municipal service, five of which must have been in a managerial capacity, preferably at the level of Battalion Chief or above with responsibility for personnel and budget management,’’ according to the posting.

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