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John McNeil named Covington fire chief
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John J. McNeil

Prior positions: Private consultant with Rhodes Consultants in Conyers, 2010-present; director of Rockdale County's emergency services department for one year; deputy fire chief for City of Atlanta from 2005-2007
Total years of fire experience: 30 years
Highest level of education: Master's degree in leadership from Southwestern College in Wichita, Kan.


County cuts about 30 positions (July 3, 2010)

BOC takes first step to dissolve Emergency Services Department (June 28, 2010)

Scott appointed to head  Rockdale Fire and Rescue Department (July 1, 2010)

Rockdale Fire Chief resigns (April 1, 2010)



Former Rockdale County Emergency Services department head John J. McNeil has been appointed Covington fire chief, Covington City Manager Steve Horton confirmed Monday night.

McNeil served as director of Rockdale County's emergency services department from 2009 to 2010, and 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.

"Covington's fire department has a very good reputation in the fire service world and so I saw it as a great opportunity," McNeil said Tuesday. "This job is all about interacting with people and I got a very positive feel working with all of the interviewers and staff at the city of Covington."

McNeil said part of the reason he retired from the Atlanta department was to have the opportunity to become a fire chief. He pursued a master's degree in leadership from Southwestern College in Kansas to make himself a more attractive candidate.

Chief Don Floyd announced his retirement earlier this year and will leave office June 15. McNeil said he would take over about June 16.

McNeil is a private consultant with Conyers-based Rhodes Consultants, but said he would not continue employment there.

Councilwoman Janet Goodman asked if McNeil would move to Newton County from DeKalb County, but Horton said that is not required under the city's ordinances. McNeil said Tuesday he will be staying in DeKalb because it would be difficult to sell his house in the current market.

McNeil was selected over two other finalists, Winston D. Williams who spent 30 years with the Chicago Fire Department, and in-house candidate Covington Fire Marshal David Carter, who has 24 years of experience.

Floyd, Horton, Personnel Director Ronnie Cowan, Police Chief Stacey Cotton, Capt. Willie Davis and Newton County Fire Chief Mike Satterfield all interviewed candidates.