Panama City Beach narrows search for fire chief

Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Beach is narrowing their search for a new fire chief and expects to hire someone by the end of the week.

Former Fire Chief Larry Couch resigned earlier this year after inappropriate text messages he sent to an employee surfaced.

Panama City Beach’s Civil Service Board has reduced the field of applicants to ten and will meet with nine of them on Wednesday for interviews to select three finalists. One of the ten applicants has dropped out.

The three finalists will then go through three more interviews, one with City Manager Tony O’Rourke and a committee of department heads, and two others with panels of Fire Rescue and Beach Safety personnel. Those interviews will be conducted on Thursday

O’Rourke is expected to make his final decision on Friday.

The Fire Chief answers to the City Manager and runs a department that consists of 75 employees, including 59 fire personnel (line, administrative, inspections and part-time) and 16 Beach Safety personnel, including seasonal. The Fire Chief directs the operations, fiscal management, and administration of a department responsible for fire prevention, beach safety, suppression, investigation and inspection; emergency medical services; disaster preparedness and response; and administrative services.

The annual salary range for the Fire Chief is $73,548 to $125,028.

O’Rourke said the City is searching for “a proven leader with outstanding leadership and communication skills, a clear vision, a strategic thinker who is values-driven and customer-focused, empowering, innovative and results-oriented.”

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