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Smith named new city fire chief

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By Calen McKinney

 

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Campbellsville Fire & Rescue has a new leader.

Kyle Smith of Frankfort was hired last Thursday night, after Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young recommended him for the job.

Council members approved Young’s recommendation with a vote of 6-4, with Vangie Ford, Stan McKinney, Terry Keltner and Vicki Mullins casting the “no” votes.

Former chief Allen “A.J.” Johnson retired at the end of August after working as a firefighter for nearly 40 years and as chief for 18.

Young said the search for Johnson’s replacement was extensive, with a series of three interviews. The first included Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette, Gary Magers, director of Campbellsville/Taylor County EMS, City Clerk

Cary Noe and three Council members who weren’t named.

In the second round, Young said, an assistant director at EMS, a police captain and a codes enforcement officer sat in on the interviews. For the final round, Young and City Attorney John Miller interviewed the candidates.

Eleven candidates were interviewed in the first phase, Young said. Six were in the second and four were interviewed in the final round.

Young said there was a lot of discussion between each panel as to who would make the best candidate for the job.

He said each applicant was scored based on his or her credentials, application, resume, cover letter and education.

The most weight, Young said, was given to the opinions of the interview panels and the actual interviews. Young said Smith has 26 years of fire experience and is also an EMT and paramedic.

“As you can see, his list of accomplishments [is] rather lengthy and very commendable,” Young said.

Smith attended the meeting to answer any questions Council members had.

Council member Dave Nunery said he knows the interview process was competitive and a good way to find a candidate. He made a motion to approve the recommendation to hire Smith, which Council member Greg Rice seconded.

Before voting, Council member Terry Keltner said “No reflection on Mr. Smith, very qualified. But I’m disappointed that we couldn’t promote somebody from within our fire department. I just find that unusual that we don’t have anybody qualified.”

Young said there were very qualified candidates for the position and some from within the department.

“It’s just that it was a competitive [process] and the decision was made that the candidate that was best suited for our situation at this time was outside.”

Last month, firefighter Kenny Anderson, who applied for the chief position, was appointed interim chief. Keltner asked if one of the internal candidates who had 20 years of experience was given any extra credit for that experience. Young said that was considered.

“And it wasn’t enough to change the outcome,” Keltner asked.

Young said it wasn’t.

In a roll call vote, Richard Jeter said he guesses he will vote for Smith, even though he doesn’t know him.

McKinney said he votes “no” because he, too, is disappointed that the department couldn’t promote from within.

Council member Randy Herron said he believes local staff should be considered for the position, and they were, but said if Young recommends Smith, he will agree.

After the meeting, Smith, 44, said he is originally from Hindman but has lived in Frankfort for 21 years. He said he will likely commute to Campbellsville for a while but does plan to move to Taylor County as soon as possible. He is married to Karen Smith.

Smith said he doesn’t know yet when he will start his new position.

“I am nervous and excited at the same time,” he said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am and I can’t wait to get started.”

Smith said he likely won’t make any changes at the department until he settles and becomes familiar with how the department operates.

“I’ve got a lot to learn,” he said.

Smith has five years’ volunteer firefighter service and has worked as a career firefighter with Frankfort Fire & EMS for the past 21 years.

According to Smith’s resume, he has worked through the ranks of firefighter, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, battalion chief and division chief. His resume states that he has many fire, rescue and other certifications and has received many firefighter and other awards.

A news release from Young’s office states that Smith will assume his duties as chief in mid-October.

In a letter to Young, Smith wrote, “During my career, I have gained extensive knowledge and experience in the various aspects that fit the job description of fire chief. These include developing and maintaining operational budgets, implementing policies and procedures, creating short and long-range planning and managing personnel.

“Time management, stress management, organizing and problem solving are skills that I have performed on a daily basis for many years and am very comfortable with.”

Council members Patti Phillips and Sharon Hoskins-Sanders did not attend the meeting.

Also at the Meeting:
• Council members agreed to finance the purchase of a new sanitation truck on a four-year loan payment at $3,167.97 a month. The vehicle cost $142,982, Young said, and the four-year loan with Oshkosh Capital in Columbus, Ohio was the lowest interest rate the city received, at 3.05 percent. Young said the Council has already given its approval to buy the vehicle, though financing the purchase had to be accelerated since the truck was scheduled to be delivered last Friday, earlier than expected.