At the Niceville City Council meeting on February 8th, Chief Tommy Mayville announced he intends to place a line item in the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget for an Assistant Fire Chief.
Niceville previously had an Assistant Fire Chief, Tony Lohrman. He served with Niceville FD until 2019. He left to take a job as the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport Fire Chief.
Hiring an assistant chief would give the fire department’s executive staff more flexibility. Now there would be two bodies – one could, for example, go to lobbying events in Tallahassee to advocate on behalf of the city and department, while the other made sure that everything ran smoothly at the firehouse.
The department has had some big wins recently. A 15% raise for entry-level firefighters meant that they have an easier time retaining talent they train. Previously, an entry-level firefighter was earning about $12 per hour at Niceville FD, according to Chief Mayville.
“We were somewhat underpaid for the area,” Chief Mayville said, “we were just not able to retain [young firefighters]. They were going to other places. I’ve experienced that for quite a while.”
The next step, once an assistant chief is in place, is to train more firefighters to be paramedics. It’s an essential step with the demographics the cities of Niceville and Valparaiso currently have, says Chief Mayville.
“We’ve got a lot of retirees here. And we require you to be an EMT here starting off,” Chief Mayville said, “I want to bring that level of care up… We’re on scene quite a bit of time before an ambulance [gets] there, especially in the summer, when we have an influx of tourists in the area. The taxpayers are paying the bill through the whole year. ”
Chief Mayville will celebrate his 40th anniversary with the department this year.