Mark Scott was named Johnson City’s new fire chief late Friday by City Manager Pete Peterson, who cited Scott’s education, experience and excellent performance in the interim position as reasons for the permanent promotion to the fire department’s top spot.
“It’s an honor to be able to continue serving the citizens of Johnson City in this capacity,” Scott said in a press release. “We have a group of well-educated and well-trained firefighters, and the chiefs before me have created a tradition of excellent service. I’m fortunate to have that strong foundation on which we can continue to build and improve our department.”
Scott was hired as a firefighter in March 1987. He was promoted two years later to sergeant, and again in 1994 to lieutenant. He was named a fire captain in 1997 and was appointed interim chief in February of this year. Scott has two bachelor’s degrees, in Engineering Technology and Fire Protection Technology/Fire Administration. He has earned numerous professional certifications and completed several management courses at the National Fire Academy.
“Mark Scott has proven his abilities to lead the department,” Peterson said in the release. “As a 24-year veteran, Chief Scott demonstrated his knowledge and leadership during his interim tenure. I am confident that he will do an outstanding job for the city and our citizens.”
The city last had an identified and officially titled fire chief in November 2009.
Scott replaced Assistant Chief Mark Finucane in February as interim chief. Finucane, who was one of two finalists for the position, had been serving as interim chief since Paul Greene’s retirement in 2009, and he served in the interim role for one year.
Scott was expected to do the same.
“This will ensure that both men have equal opportunity to prove their abilities and allows me the opportunity to observe them while functioning as chief,” Peterson said in mid-July.
When asked Friday morning at his office before the announcement why he was ready to make a decision and not extend Scott’s interim term for the entire year, Peterson said the following: “There is no reason other than I’ve given both candidates ample opportunity to show their abilities. It has nothing to do with comments from the community and the media. I’ve had time now to see what I need to see to make a judgement.”
He also said city revenues over the past few months had improved which made him feel the comfortable that the trend would continue. He said that would provide the proper level of funding for the fire chief spot and several other department head positions.
In July, Peterson told the Press the city had been able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars per year by leaving certain positions open and/or filling them with interim appointments. Including benefits and salary, the fire chief and parks and recreation director collectively cost about $200,000 per year.
The city charter calls for temporary public safety department heads to be filled within 90 days. When asked why he was giving such a lengthy review of the candidates, he said he was bound by the charter but that the City Commission’s decision not to ask for a change in the way he was proceeding and that allowed him to continue with the review process.
Scott was being paid an annual salary of $56,555 salary before the interim assignment and was making a $66,577 salary as interim chief. His starting salary as chief was not immediately available.
The Johnson City fire chief position pays a maximum of roughly $115,000.
Peterson also was expected to name a new parks and recreation director and a new development director, but these appointments apparently will come at a later date.
The parks and recreation director will lead a staff of 63 employees and oversee a multi-purpose arena (Freedom Hall); 25 parks; 46 ball fields; 19 tennis courts; two 18-hole golf courses; seniors’ programs and services; four recreation centers; and two swimming pools.
The new development director, which is a newly created position, will be responsible for overseeing a reconfigured consolidation of the city’s planning, community development and building code departments.