Panama City Fire Chief resigns

Panama City

PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — The search is on for a new Panama City Fire Chief after Alex Baird resigned from the position.

This comes after the city had a Tallahassee law firm look into a complaint regarding an EMT certification issue.

City Manager Mark McQueen said this bad judgement call by Baird is what caused the resignation. 

“I put a lot of trust and confidence in our senior leaders to do the right things,” said McQueen.  in this case Chief Baird made a mistake and it was one that he owned up to and as a result of that he tendered his resignation.”

While the city conducts a nationwide search for a new fire chief, Deputy Chief Kent Taylor will act as interim chief. 

“It’s a critical position so we want to make sure we have the right leadership in place to help make sure our fire department maintains the highest state of readiness throughout the entire city,” said McQueen. 

Mcqueen said he anticipates the search for a new chief lasting around three months.

All inaccurate certification renewals have since been corrected through the Department of Health to ensure all EMTs are correctly credentialed.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — According to Panama City officials, Alex Baird submitted his resignation following a complaint and investigation into an EMT recertification issue.

A law firm out of Tallhassee gave the city their legal opinion after they were asked to inquire about the issue and look into the complaint.

The city released the firm’s findings which stated Chief Baird bulk renewed all EMTs who were working for the fire department in September of 2018 even though not all of them had met the requirements for renewal.

EMTs must are required to have 30 Continuing Education Units or CEU by the end of the cycle. The cycle they reviewed was January 1, 2017 – March 31, 2019.

The documents show there were five EMTs acting with invalid certificates at the end of March 2019 because they didn’t have the required CEUs.

The documents go on to show Baird failed to act to decertify five EMTs on or after April 1, 2019, but allowed them to continue to serve as recertified EMTs for the department.

Baird officially stepped down Monday. He had been on administrative leave since early July.

City officials said Tuesday that Assistant Chief Kent Taylor will continue as acting fire chief until a permanent replacement is found.

News 13 requested the documents about the investigation in July. The city cited an exemption in the public records law that allowed them to keep the documents sealed until the investigation was complete. The city released the documents Tuesday.

You can read them here.

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