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Posted: April 3, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Covington fire chief finalists selected

Covington has three finalists for its fire chief position, including Covington's own fire marshal David Carter and retired deputy fire chiefs from the Atlanta and Chicago fire departments.

Carter has served as deputy fire chief and fire marshal for Covington since 2004.

John J. McNeil worked with the City of Atlanta Fire-Rescue Department for 28 years, including two years as deputy fire chief of the department's technical services division.

Winston D. Williams spent 30 years with the Chicago Fire Department, including five years as deputy district chief.
The city is planning to hire a new fire chief by April 18.

Covington Personnel Director Ronnie Cowan said the three finalists were selected out of about 50 applications. The city only considered applicants who already had Georgia fire certifications, which cut out about 20 out-of-state applications.
While larger departments often conduct national searches to find applicants with the necessary experience, Cowan said Covington is often better off drawing from the hundreds of similar-sized or larger cities in Georgia.

Covington conducted in-person interviews with 11 applicants and selected four finalists. One finalist took a job with another fire department, which leaves the three finalists.

Although Williams has never worked with a fire department in the state of Georgia, he now lives in Newton County, Cowan said.

Cowan said the fact McNeil and Williams are retired does not cause concern, because they will not be doing field work,but rather management and training.

"It's their ability to direct and operate a department that is critical," Cowan said.

Cowan, retiring Fire Chief Don Floyd and Director of Public Safety Stacey Cotton will make their final recommendations to City Manager Steve Horton next week.

"I'm very impressed with all of the finalists; it's going to be a hard decision," Cowan said.

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