Community asked to weigh in on fire chief candidates

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    The two candidates vying to be the next Grand Rapids fire chief participated in a Fire Chief Candidate Forum Wednesday, March 29. Dr. Brad Brown, deputy chief of support services for the Grand Rapids Fire Department, and Eloy Vega, fire chief and emergency management coordinator for the City of Port Neches, Texas are the two candidates being considered for the position.  

    Now that the potential fire chiefs have had a chance to speak publicly, City Manager Mark Washington would like to know community members’ thoughts on the contenders and has launched a  survey, that can be accessed on the internet at this link:  Grand Rapids Community Forum – Post Digital Comment Card. The survey contains eight multiple choice questions  along with an area for written feedback  All reviews submitted are received anonymously through the survey link. Statements should be relative to each specific candidate and not general statements outside of that review. 

    Mark Washington
    Mark Washington

    “It is important we have the right leader lead our fire department for the foreseeable future and to ensure the safety and trust of our community,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “That is why we’re encouraging our residents and other community members to participate in the survey and have their voices heard. Input from our neighborhoods and the community is critical to helping us select the right person.”

    Public input gathered from surveys and the forum will be considered as part of the overall fire chief interview process. People who did not attend the community forum will be able to weigh in and share their thoughts on what they expect from the next leader of the Grand Rapids Fire Department, too. The Fire Chief Candidate Forum is available for viewing on the City’sCity’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

    More about the candidates:

    Brad Brown

    Dr. Brad Brown currently serves as the deputy chief of support services for the Grand Rapids Fire Department. A 27-year veteran of the fire service who began his career in Greensboro, NC, Chief Brown has been with the City of Grand Rapids for 20 years in various capacities including: firefighter, acting equipment operator, acting officer, lieutenant-planning, captain-planning, assistant chief-administration, and fills in as acting fire chief on a frequent basis.  Brown oversees the $36 million budget, purchasing, planning division, fleet and facilities, administrative staff, fire prevention division, and facilitates the hiring and promotion of GRFD employees. Chief Brown serves as a peer assessor for the Center for Public Safety Excellence and as an instructor for Eastern Michigan University’s school of staff and command where he instructs on strategic planning, financial management and problem solving. Brown has earned an Associate’s Degree in Fire Protection Technology from Guilford Technical Community College, an Associate’s Degree in Fire Prevention and Investigation from Delta College, a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a major in Fire Service Management from Northwood University, a Master’s degree in Executive Fire Leadership from Grand Canyon University, and a Doctorate in Education from Cornerstone University in Organizational Leadership and Development.

    Eloy Vega

    Chief Eloy Vega has served communities as a first responder for over 23 years, leading teams and engaging a diverse community. He is the current fire chief and emergency management coordinator for the City of Port Neches, Texas. Vega’s career began with the Laredo Fire Department in 1999, serving in various capacities before being promoted to fire district chief, with an operating budget of just over $57 million. He served in various positions there, including fire suppression district chief, fire training district chief, and fire prevention and arson district chief. While assigned to the Fire Administration Division, Vega was the special projects coordinator, strategic planner and public information officer. Vega earned an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Fire Protection from Kilgore College, a Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Arts and Sciences from Texas A&M International University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in Disaster & Emergency Management from Sam Houston State University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University in Fire and Emergency Management Administration.

    The responses to the Grand Rapids Community Forum – Post Digital Comment Card can be submitted through Friday, March 31, 5 p.m. People who would like to share their thoughts, but cannot access the Internet may call 311 or 616.456.3000.

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