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Tampa Fla--Fire Chief's Job Attracts 19 Insiders

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  • captstanm1
    Outgoing Chief Gets in his Parting Shots


    Fire Chief Opposes City-County Deal
    By TED BYRD [email protected]
    Published: Jun 19, 2003

    TAMPA - Outgoing Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Pete Botto is leaving office opposed to a ``closest response'' agreement between the city and Hillsborough County. New Chief Aria ``Ray'' Green and Mayor Pam Iorio say the issue needs careful study, but they are not committed to any option.
    Fire officials continue to discuss an agreement, which would dispatch the closest fire unit to an emergency regardless of jurisdiction. That would mean consolidating the dispatch systems for fire departments in Tampa, Hillsborough, Temple Terrace and Plant City, which all operate independently now.

    Tampa officials say the closest response issue is more complicated than it appears. Logically, the fire station closest to a fire would respond. That is not how the current system works. In some cases, trucks must drive for miles and lose vital minutes if a fire is outside the jurisdiction of a closer fire station.

    ``I haven't seen anything to convince me yet that this will be a benefit to the city of Tampa,'' Botto said of the possibility of changing the system.

    Botto retires Saturday and was popular with rank-and- file firefighters. His sentiments carry some weight with the firefighters union. He said he worries that Tampa units would be called to cover fires in the county, leaving Tampa residents vulnerable.

    Little has changed since the consolidation question was rekindled in late April after a fire at Charles and Debbie Havre's home near New Tampa.

    A county truck from Thonotosassa responded, but it took about 20 minutes for it to travel 12 miles. The city had a station in nearby Cross Creek, four miles away.

    County officials said a closest response agreement would have guaranteed the Cross Creek department got the initial fire call.

    ``Make it a seamless delivery of service,'' said Hillsborough Fire Rescue Chief Bill Nesmith.

    But Botto said an existing agreement lets jurisdictions ask for help, so the county should have called for assistance. An additional agreement isn't needed, he said.

    ``This is one of those things that sounds great,'' Botto said, but the details are difficult to work out.

    Iorio and Green, a 25-year veteran of the department, say the issue is worth investigating.

    ``The first thing we need to do is completely analyze the problem,'' Iorio said. ``I just think it's premature to put any possible solutions out on the table.''

    Reporter Ted Byrd can be reached at (813) 259-7679.

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  • captstanm1
    Tampa Tribue Story--Chief used to work as Janitor as a young man

    Chief Fans Vision For Fire Rescue
    By KEITH MORELLI [email protected]
    Published: Jun 18, 2003

    TAMPA - Working as a janitor at University Community Hospital as a young man, Aria ``Ray'' Green could not imagine racing into burning buildings to fight fires and save people.
    ``I had no idea I was going to be a firefighter,'' he said Monday afternoon. ``Nor did I want to be a firefighter.''

    But a firefighter who was hospitalized for back surgery turned Green's life around. Conversations about the fire service sparked an interest, and by the time the firefighter was discharged, Green was heading to Tampa Fire Rescue.

    That was in 1978.

    On Tuesday, Green culminated his 25-year career by being named Tampa's next fire chief - the first black selected to lead the department in its 108-year history.

    Green, 52, said, ``This is a historic point in history. ... It's a very important thing. I have a chance to be a good role model to people, not just black people, but all people.''

    No major immediate changes are going to be made within the 600-member department, he said, because ``you will get resistance.''

    But change eventually will come, he said. Training programs will be evaluated to determine what works, what does not and what needs upgrading. He also wants to streamline the department by paring some senior-level management positions.

    Specifics weren't mentioned during the 20-minute news conference in Mayor Pam Iorio's conference room Tuesday afternoon. Both the mayor and Green said it is too early to talk about specifics, such as how he will upgrade the training program or what positions are on the chopping block. Iorio and Green agreed that money saved from cutting management positions will be used to hire front-line firefighters and paramedics.

    Both have a common goal for the department, they said.

    ``Mayor Iorio wants to make the department a model for the rest of the country,'' Green said. ``I share that vision.''

    Iorio said Green's record with Tampa Fire Rescue ``is spotless, his integrity unquestioned. ... He is a hard worker, and his record reflects a serious and dedicated approach to his career. He is worthy of this promotion, and I believe he will lead Tampa Fire Rescue to even greater levels of achievement.''

    Green has a bachelor of science degree in adult technical education from the University of South Florida. He holds master's degrees in public administration and management from Troy State in Alabama and theology and pastoral counseling from the Life Christian University in Tampa.

    He is married to Wylene Thornton and has two adult children and three grandchildren.

    Green was one of four in- house candidates considered for the job. Iorio interviewed each Monday, she said. Green succeeds Pete Botto, who served 35 years with the department, the last eight as fire chief. Botto retires Saturday.

    Botto was all smiles Tuesday afternoon when he presented to Green the chief's jacket, decorated with ornate gold stripes on the forearms.

    Reporter Keith Morelli can be reached at (813) 259-7698
    Last edited by captstanm1; 06-18-2003, 06:35 AM.

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  • captstanm1
    Update: Mayor Names New Chief

    St. Petersburg Times--Hillsborough County

    Mayor names new fire chief
    Aria Ray Green joined the department in 1978 as a firefighter, ascending to fire division chief in 1994.
    By BABITA PERSAUD, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 18, 2003

    TAMPA - Tampa's new fire chief, Aria Ray Green, has 25 years of experience, multiple master's degrees and works - when he's not with Tampa Fire Rescue - as a psychiatric nurse.

    "His record with Tampa Fire Rescue is spotless, his integrity unquestioned," said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who made the announcement Tuesday at City Hall.

    Green, who replaces retiring Chief Pete Botto, is the department's first African-American fire chief.

    "I want to see this department be the most known, most respected and the most emulated department in the country," he said.

    He said when Tampa Fire Rescue comes on a scene, "there will be a collective sigh."

    Green wants to revamp training. "A complete makeover," he said. And he has already started talks with Iorio about response times near the county-city borders.

    Iorio said Tuesday that one of the goals for the new chief will also be "streamlining the management" to free up money to be spent on "personnel that directly reflect quality of service to the public." Green said he's the kind of leader who likes "to have people participate in the process as much as possible, but if I have to be authoritarian, I will do so."

    Originally from Massachusetts, Green started with Tampa Fire Rescue in 1978 as a firefighter. He has also been driver engineer, captain and fire district chief. In 1994, he became fire division chief.

    Green, 52, has master's degrees in public administration and management from Troy State University, and in theology and pastoral counseling from Life Christian University. He is currently working toward a doctorate in theology from Life Christian University.

    He works as a psychiatric nurse for Memorial Hospital during off-hours.

    Green was one of four applicants recommended to Iorio by a six-member committee of city and Fire Rescue personnel. The other three finalists were Dennis Jones, Dennis Phillips and Michael Gonzalez. The panel reviewed 19 applicants, all from Tampa Fire Rescue.

    Green starts Monday.

    Botto's last day is Saturday. A Tampa native, he has been with the department since 1968, and was a backer of former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, who made him his chief.

    Botto has been popular with the rank and file. But his 35 years with the department have not always been stellar.

    Last year, Botto was criticized when he took his family in a fire department van to Tennessee. He has also used the van during work hours to take firefighters to jai alai games in Orlando.

    A jovial and personable man, Botto made headlines again when he unbuckled his pants and showed a Bucs tattoo on his right hip, live on the noon news during Super Bowl hoopla in January. He said it was done to show his loyality and love of Tampa Bay.

    Botto's last day as fire chief will be spent at a charity event.

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  • captstanm1
    Final list sets at 4 Candidates

    Tampa Tribune

    Top 4 Fire Chief Candidates Selected
    By WILLIAM MARCH [email protected]
    Published: Jun 12, 2003

    TAMPA - A selection committee has recommended four officers of Tampa Fire Rescue as finalists to become Tampa's next fire chief, and Mayor Pam Iorio said Wednesday she will choose the new chief from among them.
    They are Fire Investigations Supervisor Michael M. Gonzalez, 40; Rescue Division Chief Aria Ray Green, 52; Airport Fire Chief Dennis W. Jones, 46; and District Chief Dennis L. Phillips, 50.

    Green is the department's highest-ranking black officer, and Gonzalez is the highest- ranking Hispanic applicant.

    The four were chosen from 19 applicants by a six-member committee led by Iorio's chief of staff, Darrell Smith.

    The committee included city administration and personnel chief Sarah Lang; chief accountant Ron Ibarra; City Attorney Fred Karl; City Clerk Shirley Foxx-Knowles, Iorio's top-ranking black appointee so far in her administration; and Dwaine Booth, deputy fire and rescue director for Pinellas County.

    The committee sought applicants only from within the fire department, in accord with Iorio's pledge that she would hire from outside only if she couldn't find a the right candidate from inside.

    Iorio said she now thinks that going outside won't be necessary.

    Smith said the selection committee narrowed the 19 applicants to eight and interviewed all of them Wednesday.

    He said all were asked the same 10 questions, and each committee member ranked them from one to five on each question. The committee members then gave applicant rankings of one to five in two categories concerning their personal impressions of the candidates.

    Smith said Green had the highest score, Jones and Phillips were next in a tie, and Gonzalez was fourth, only one point below Jones and Phillips. For that reason, Smith said, the committee decided to include Gonzalez, although it had intended to recommend only three finalists to Iorio.

    Iorio said she will interview the four next week and expects to name a new chief prior to the June 21 retirement of Chief Pete Botto.

    Reporter William March can be reached at (813) 259-7761.

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  • captstanm1
    started a topic Tampa Fla--Fire Chief's Job Attracts 19 Insiders

    Tampa Fla--Fire Chief's Job Attracts 19 Insiders


    19 Fire Rescue Members Enter Heated Competition For Chief's Job
    By WILLIAM MARCH [email protected]
    Published: May 30, 2003

    TAMPA - Nineteen members of Tampa Fire Rescue have applied to become fire chief, and a committee of city officials hopes to recommend three of them as finalists to Mayor Pam Iorio within two weeks.
    Iorio has said she intends to look first for a new chief within the fire department and will look outside only if she doesn't find the right candidate within.

    ``There is no intention right now to look outside,'' said Iorio's chief of staff, Darrell Smith, who's leading the searches for a city fire and police chiefs.

    The 19 applicants represent those department members who submitted applications by the deadline this week. They are:

    Charles L. Brown, district chief; Betty A. Coleman, fire marshal's office inspector; Thomas E. Forward, captain, Station 14;James L. Gary, captain, Station 5; Michael M. Gonzalez, arson investigation supervisor, fire marshal's office; Roland G. Gonzalez, fire marshal; Aria R. Green, division chief; Timothy J. Ippolito, inspector, fire marshal's office; Milton Jenkins, inspector, fire marshal's office; Dennis W. Jones, division chief; Willie C. Miller, district chief; Dennis L. Phillips, district chief; James P. Phillips, district chief; William D. Ryan, inspections supervisor, fire marshal's office; Bruce E. Savage, acting deputy chief; Todd A. Spear, assistant fire marshal; James D. Taylor, division chief; William C. Wade, captain, public information officer; and Richard Weich, district chief.

    Six of the candidates are black, including three of those regarded by fire officials as leading candidates - Brown, Green and Miller. Iorio has promised to increase diversity among top city officials.

    Smith said Iorio wants to name the new fire chief before Chief Pete Botto retires June 21. But he said the hiring process has been delayed by the difficulty of finding a firefighting expert with no links to the applicants to serve on the search committee.

    Other members of the committee include interim City Attorney Fred Karl, City Clerk Shirley Foxx-Knowles, Ron Ibarra of the city accounting department and Sarah Lang, city personnel chief.

    Reporter William March can be reached at (813) 259-7761.

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