Athens city officials are one step closer to selecting the city’s next fire chief.
After interviewing three city employees for the job in March, they expanded their search and interviewed six candidates from other cities this week. Among the six are two candidates from nearby fire departments — Decatur Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Lorenzo Jackson Jr. and Hartselle Fire and Rescue Chief Steve Shelton. The rest are from departments farther away but all from Alabama. Among them:
• Jeffrey Birdwell, deputy chief of Madison Fire and Rescue;
• Shane Boyd, battalion chief for Bessemer Fire Department;
• Rodney Hartsfield, deputy fire chief for Auburn Fire Division;
• Roy Willis Jr., assistant chief of Birmingham Fire & Rescue Service Department.
City Council members are searching for someone to replace former Chief Danny Southard, who recently retired. The chief of Athens Fire and Rescue must be able to supervise three fire stations, about 40 employees and a $3 million budget.
Starting pay for the job is $80,807.
There is currently no interim chief overseeing the Athens fire department.
Council members will choose a chief from among the six they just interviewed plus the three locals. Below is background on each of the three local candidates, which was obtained through their interviews, and on each of the other candidates, which was obtained from their resumes:
• David Andrews — Battalion chief for Athens Fire and Rescue with 14 years of firefighting experience who believes the department needs consistent operating procedures, additional firefighters, and more emergency medical technicians. He grew up in western Limestone County and he and his wife, Michelle, live in Athens.
• Jeffrey Birdwell — Deputy chief of Madison Fire and Rescue since 2003. A 1984 graduate of Tanner High School, Birdwell became a fire captain in 1995. He graduated cum laude from Athens State University with a bachelor’s degree in public safety in 2003, earned a master’s degree in public administration from Jacksonville State University in 2007. Second in command over the Madison department. No personal information provided on resume.