Bainbridge fire chief resigns

Published 3:56 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

Bainbridge Fire Chief Craig Tully has elected to leave his position with the City of Bainbridge, city officials said Friday.

Due to personal reasons, Tully turned in his resignation to City Manager Chris Hobby on Friday, Sept. 30, Communications Director Adrienne Harrison said in a press release.

“We certainly regret his decision,” Hobby said. “Even though he was employed for only a short time, he had already made significant contributions to the city.”

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Tully began his position in early September, replacing former Fire Chief Dennis Mock, who retired earlier in the year. Tully had attended three days of police academy in Tifton, Ga., this week before contacting Hobby about his decision.

Before coming to Bainbridge, Tully was the chief of the Colquitt/Miller County Fire-EMS Department and had been a volunteer firefighter.

Hobby said he believed Tully, who is a veteran firefighter, decided he would not be comfortable with the law enforcement aspects of Bainbridge Public Safety. In the Public Safety concept, officers are dual-trained to be both firefighters and policemen.

“Craig is a good man and a friend of mine,” said Hobby, who had previously worked with Tully when the former was the city manager of Colquitt, Ga. “I am thankful he came over here but really wish it had come out differently. I tried to talk him out of it, but ultimately, it’s his decision.”

Hobby said there are no immediate plans to replace Tully. Eric Miller of Albion, Mich., was hired in September to succeed Larry Funderburke, who is retiring in December, as the new director of BPS. Miller also began the 10-week police academy in Tifton this past week — when he returns, he can make a decision on whether to promote an existing BPS officer to fire chief or begin a new search, Hobby said.

In the meantime, Tully had already laid out plans for future fire training and shared those with Deputy Fire Chief Doyle Welch, who was recently promoted from assistant fire chief. BPS has four shifts of officers and until earlier this year, had four assistant fire chiefs. One retired and another was fired; besides Deputy Fire Chief Welch, there are also assistant fire chiefs Jeff Kelly and Gary Welch.

“I am confident we have capable fire protection even in the absence of a fire chief for the time being,” Hobby said. “Both fire stations are manned by BPS officers at all times. In the event of a major fire happening [while an assistant chief was off-duty], Doyle, Jeff or Gary would respond. All three are very dedicated and experienced.”