Public Safety leadership changing

Published 11:39 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

The City of Bainbridge has hired a new fire chief and is making progress toward completing a nationwide search for a new Public Safety Director, City Manager Chris Hobby announced this week.

Craig Tully, who currently serves as the Chief of the Colquitt/Miller County Fire-EMS Department, has been hired as the city’s new fire chief. Tully has extensive fire training and teaching experience.

“We are excited to get someone of his caliber,” stated Hobby.

Tully is a past president of the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs and is a current board member of the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council. He will begin his duties with the city Sept. 5.

Tully succeeds long-time Fire Chief Dennis Mock, who had worked with the Bainbridge fire and public safety departments for more than 40 years. Mock, who opted to take early retirement earlier this summer, had been employed as a city firefighter since November 1970, when he was 18 years old. He was promoted to fire chief in 1990.

“Craig comes from a different experience, working as a volunteer firefighter before he was paid to be one,” Hobby said. “I think the background he has training other firefighters will help us a lot. I think he will take the fire protection aspect of Public Safety in new and different directions.”

Providing BPS officers with continued training in firefighting is just as important as their police-related training, Hobby said.

“The jobs are equally dangerous,” Hobby said. “To not put some emphasis on on fire training is a disservice to the people we serve.”

Five candidates for BPS director

Public Safety Director Larry Funderburke will continue his regular responsibilities managing Police, Fire and Investigations until his retirement in December.

The city government began looking for a new Public Safety Director in April, when Hobby created a committee to conduct the search and review applications. The committee consisted of former Mayor Mark Harrell, local attorney Ryan Cleveland, educator Dr. Linda Lumpkin, contractor and Planning Commission member Eddie Brinson and deputy city manager Dustin Dowdy.

The committee reviewed 70 applications and reduced those down to a list of 10 people over the summer, Hobby said. Each of the 10 visited Bainbridge for a first interview and then the list was narrowed down to five.

“I asked the committee to recommend to me a group of people, each of whom in the committee’s opinion would be a good fit for the position,” Hobby said.

There are now five candidates, three from out-of-town and two from the local area. Second interviews will be conducted with the five, with Hobby visiting the out-of-town candidates in person to see how they function in a working environment.

In September, Hobby will narrow the list down to two or three finalists. The public will have a chance to meet each of the finalists. Each will also come to Bainbridge separately to attend a city council meeting, be shown around the city and meet key civic and business leaders.

The city manager will then consult with the city council and some of those leaders and make a hiring decision.