Four people, each with an extensive background in firefighting and public safety, have interviews next week for the job of Nassau County Fire Chief, according to the Human Resources office.
Candidates include a county battalion chief, two former battalion chiefs for Jacksonville Fire Rescue, including one who also served as a Fernandina Beach City Commissioner and another who works in procurement for the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, and a fire district chief with 36 years of experience.
The job is open because former Chief Matt Graves, a near 20-year veteran of the department with an outstanding record of service, was pushed out of the job in March and announced his retirement. Budget Director and Assistant County Manager Justin Stankiewicz said in a phone interview after news reached the public that he wanted to take the department in a “different direction.”
According to a records request, the salary for chief ranges from approximately $67,000 to $94,000 and the candidates include:
Mike Eddins, a Nassau County battalion chief who has been with the department since Jan. 1999. Mr. Eddins served as a spokesperson for the county during the Garfield Road Fire in Bryceville and has been deployed to federally declared disaster areas, including those caused by Hurricane Hermine and Hurricane Matthew. In Oct. 2015, Mr. Eddins traveled to Columbia, South Carolina with an All-Hazards Incident Management Team from the Jacksonville area to help with record flooding from Hurricane Joaquin. Mr. Eddins served as a finance section chief, according to Emergency Management Director Billy Estep, who was also deployed.
Previously, Mr. Eddins worked as a firefighter in Fernandina Beach and as a communications specialist for the Jacksonville department. Mr. Eddins has a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science Technology and a Master of Science degree in Emergency Services Management from Columbia Southern University. Listed on his resume under personal information, Mr. Eddins says he is a private pilot and an avid Crossfit competitor.
Greg Roland, a paramedic, registered nurse, and firefighter who worked with Jacksonville Fire Rescue from 1986 to 2015. He spent his last four years on the job as a battalion chief and also worked from 2009 to 2011 as a District Chief of Training where he managed the day-to-day operations of the Training Academy.
Mr. Roland worked as a firefighter/paramedic for Fernandina Beach Fire Rescue from 1980 to 1986. Since 1981, he has worked part-time as a registered nurse at Baptist Nassau. Mr. Roland served two terms as a Fernandina Beach City Commissioner from 1992 to 1998. Mr. Roland has a Bachelor’s degree in major business management from Jacksonville University and has begun coursework for a Master’s in Business Administration.
Brady Rigdon, a former Division Chief of Operations from 2006 to 2011 with Jacksonville Fire Rescue. He also worked as a suppression battalion chief for the department from 2005 to 2006 and again in 2011. Mr. Rigdon left the department in April after more than 25 years with the department. Mr. Rigdon is a procurement specialist for the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises and donates money for equipment for first responders. Mr. Rigdon has been featured on one of the organization’s ‘Hero Cups.’ He is the son of a firefighter and a 2010 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Flagler College with a degree in public administration.
Paul Anderson, the former Chief of the Immokalee Fire District in Collier County who led the department for four years before being dismissed in April for improper vacation/sick payouts and complaints from firefighters, according to local news outlets. On Thursday, a department administrator confirmed his dates of employment for the Independent.
Mr. Anderson submitted a four-page cover letter and a 26-page resume to County Manager Shanea Jones on April 30, about two weeks after he was ousted from the department’s top job for violating terms of his contract, according to the Naples Daily News. (Yes, this is the same newspaper that broke the story weeks ago that State Senator Aaron Bean had help secure $1 million from the state through a hidden budget request for the family biz of his good friend, Nassau County Tax Collector John Drew and his wife Catherine Drew.)
According to a story in the April 5 edition of the paper, Mr. Anderson violated his contract by cashing out about 90 hours of unused vacation and sick time, which said the time had to be used as compensation. Mr. Anderson was also said to have a contentious relationship with the union, according to the paper, which also reported that firefighters were upset that Anderson received a new contract and a raise after his vehicle rolled into a patient lying on a gurney in the road while (he was) responding to an accident on a state roadway.
Mr. Anderson has 36 years of experience and has secured $4.7 million in grant funding. He retired as Assistant Fire Chief for the City of Claremont, Florida after 31 years of service before joining the Immokalee Fire District. He has a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University.