Tuesday, June 19, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa’s next fire chief will be home grown, says Bob Buckhorn

When longtime Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Tom Forward retires after eight years at the helm next month, his replacement will come from within the agency's ranks, said Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Monday.

"We've  got good depth there. It doesn't make any sense for me to go outside, especially with me having a year left and the next mayor having the ability to hire and fire whoever they want. For this last year, what I'm more concerned about is consistency" said Buckhorn, whose eight-year run as mayor of the state's third-largest city will end next spring because of term limits.

Buckhorn has proven loyal to homegrown talent in his tenure. Tampa Police chiefs Eric Ward and Brian Dugan both spent long careers in the police department before being tapped for the top job by Buckhorn.

Forward announced his retirement earlier this month after nearly 35 years with the department. He said he had accomplished what he wanted to at the helm and had stayed longer than most fire chiefs of mid-to-large cities.

Buckhorn echoed Forward's declaration that the city's recent legal setback in the federal discrimination and retaliation case brought by firefighter Tanja Vidovic had nothing to do with the timing of the chief's retirement.

"Not one iota," said Buckhorn, who had been a fierce defender of the fire department during the trial. Hours before a federal judge in February ordered Vidovic to be reinstated to the department, the mayor had said the city would appeal a jury verdict awarding $245,000 to Vidovic.

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