BROOKSVILLE — A mainstay of Hernando County fire service for more than 25 years, deputy county fire chief Kevin Carroll has been named the new fire chief in Groveland.
Carroll joined Spring Hill Fire and Rescue in 1994 and soon moved up through the ranks. He became assistant chief of Hernando County Fire Rescue in 2011 when the county and Spring Hill departments merged. He was named deputy chief in 2016.
"Tremendous thanks for your service and dedication to his county,'' Commissioner Jeff Holcomb said. He noted that Carroll was a resource to him when he first decided to get into politics.
"Thank God you never ran against me, because you live in my district,'' Holcomb said, "and I would have lost badly.''
Commission Chairman John Mitten said Carroll was on a short list of people who "are loved by everyone.''
"I couldn’t be happier for you, and I couldn’t be sadder for Hernando County,'' Mitten said. "It’s bittersweet, but it’s great to see you go forward like you are. We’re going to certainly miss you.''
Commissioner John Allocco joked about making sure that the camera recording the meeting was trained on Carroll, who was fighting back tears during the tribute.
"You have been awesome to work with,'' Allocco said, adding that Carroll was a big believer in community projects and always was willing to wear a costume for a cause. He suggested that he might be able to find pictures of those to pass along to his new bosses.
"Groveland is growing, and they need someone like you,'' Allocco said.
"It has literally been my absolute privilege and honor to have served with the men and women of Hernando County Fire Rescue all these years,'' Carroll said, struggling through his emotions. He thanked Fire Chief Scott Hechler for his mentoring and expressed gratitude to the officials in Groveland.
Carroll will replace Willie Morgan, who worked for Groveland for 45 years. Carroll was one of 27 candidates who applied for the job, which will pay $117,500, according to the Daily Commercial. Carroll will take a pay decrease from his Hernando salary of $127,774.
Groveland is in Lake County, off State Road 50 between Mascotte and Clermont. Carroll will oversee a fire force of 35, including 12 newly-hired firefighters, the Daily Commercial reported.