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Commissioners to discuss potential candidates for new Augusta Fire chief



AUGUSTA, Ga. – If you don’t remember, Chief Chris James resigned in December after concerns over morale and training led city leaders to question his leadership.

Then city leaders ordered fire ambulance services to pause for time to recruit staff and improve training.

As that continues, now they’re also gearing up to welcome a new chief with new ideas.

“We need a fire chief, that’s well versed in being a fireman,” District 2 Commissioner Dennis Williams said.

“I think that out of the four that were interviewed today, we’re going to see an excellent chief come to lead Augusta’s fire department,” District 8 Commissioner Brandon Garrett said.

The interviews took place in a closed zoom meeting today. Although most of the time identities of the prospects are public, this time the candidates asked to keep their identities private out of respect for current job positions.

“The candidates that I sat in on were very well qualified…,” Williams said.

A new chief isn’t the only public safety concern commissioners are considering.

That left Gold Cross EMS as the priority provider, but now commissioners are reviewing that too.

“I believe that, you know, Gold Cross has done a really great job for our county, and as we continue having negotiations with them currently, I think what you’re going to see is the service even get better,” Garrett said.

He thinks the city should keep Gold Cross as the priority provider, but others disagree.

“The city needs to manage the operations of the ambulance services,” Williams said.

Williams says managing ambulances through Augusta Fire would allow the city to monitor the progress of EMS services more easily.

“We need to have some type of system to look at how it operates and ensuring that it’s providing the service to the public…,” he said.

While the fire department awaits a new chief, they’ve hired 29 new firefighter EMTs and have an HR Specialist to address morale issues.

A sub-committee of commissioners on both sides is in the process of reviewing Gold Cross services and negotiating that contract. They’ve only had one meeting so far, but they expect to discuss response times, the number of ambulances, and more.

As for the chief search, commissioners will meet to discuss the candidates and vote on a selection.

Right now, there’s no timeline for how soon that might happen, but we’ll keep up updated as the process continues.