Fort Worth selects new fire chief

Jim Davis

Jim Davis,  the assistant fire chief in Columbus, Ohio, has been selected to lead Fort Worth’s 987-member, $145 million Fire Department, the 13th chief in the city’s history.

“I am confident that we have found the right person for the job,” Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke said in a news release.

“Jim has the right mix of experience and enthusiasm to help our Fire Department continue to excel. His strong background in training and emergency response will be invaluable assets to our department and our city,” Cooke said.

Doug Hooten, CEO of MedStar Mobile Healthcare, has known Davis since about 2006 and praised the decision.

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“I believe he was a great choice for the Fort Worth Fire Department,” Hooten told the Fort Worth Business Press. “Jim has always come across as someone who understands the business aspects of what it takes to run a public-sector entity. He is professional, articulate and insightful into the relevant issues that face the public sector today.”

Davis was named assistant fire chief in Columbus, a city with a population only slightly larger than Fort Worth’s, earlier this year.

Since 2013, Davis had been deputy chief for special operations and emergency medical services. He joined the Columbus fire department in 1988, according to his resume on LinkedIn.

Davis was responsible for all areas of training and education for the 1,550 firefighters and paramedics in the Columbus Division of Fire, the Fort Worth news release said.

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He is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience in emergency departments, intensive care and mobile intensive care units, including 20 years as a flight RN/EMT with Medflight of Ohio.

“All of my conversations and interactions with Jim have always been very positive,” Hooten said. “He always impressed me as a fire guy who really got EMS and the new environment we are operating in. With his background as a nurse and a flight medic, he has truly experienced the health care side of what we do.”

Davis is expected to begin work in Fort Worth on Sept. 17. He succeeds Rudy Jackson Jr., who retired this year after 10 years as Fort Worth’s fire chief.

Jackson had held a number of positions in the department in his more than 35 years in Fort Worth. Longtime FWFD employees Patrick Vasquez and Kenneth Stevens served as interim chiefs during the transition.

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Davis’ appointment followed an extensive search that included several opportunities for public comment, the news release said. Vasquez and Assistant City Manager Valerie R. Washington traveled to Columbus to meet Davis and see his leadership style in action. Michael Glynn, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 440, also made the trip.

“As the fire chief in Fort Worth, I want to make a strong effort to build off the foundation that exists within the Fort Worth Fire Department,” Davis said in an earlier news release after the field of candidates was narrowed to two.

“I want to be an ambassador and cheerleader to the great work these firefighters do every day in this community. I hope to create a future within the fire department that respects the past yet embraces the future,” he said.

“That future involves becoming a learning organization that develops staff through education and training, executes at the highest level to serve the residents and guests of Fort Worth and conducts itself with professionalism and positive labor-management relationships,” Davis said.

Davis said the FWFD will approach every encounter with two main principles: giving every department member the best opportunity to go home safely at the end of the shift, and seeking additional opportunities to engage and be involved with the community by always asking, “Why not?”

Davis graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and earned a master’s degree in operational excellence from the Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. He completed a doctor of education degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

“In my short experience, Fort Worth has a small-town feel within a large, rapidly growing community,” Davis said in the city posting. “The growth offers challenges that can turn into great opportunities for a fire chief to lead the organization into the future by developing strong community partnerships and seeking new opportunities to serve the community.”

The city used local firm Mackenzie Eason in its search for the new fire chief.

– FWBP Staff