From a list of more than 30 applicants, the City of Sylvester has narrowed the list of candidates for fire chief down to three men. Sylvester’s Fire Department has been without a chief since June and recently stated that they would like to have the new chief in place by September 1. The final three candidates named last week by City Manager Debbie Bridges include Worth County natives Tim Hayes and Jack Colby. Florida resident Ralph Franklin, Jr. is also on the list.
Though Hayes is from Worth County, he has served in the fire service and EMS in Gainesville and Cape Coral, Florida for the last 27 years. During his 26 year tenure with the City of Gainesville, Hayes has served as a paramedic, firefighter, training specialist, driver operator, lieutenant, district chief, training chief, assistant chief of fire safety management, and deputy chief of the Risk Reduction Bureau.
The candidate also served as Fire Chief for the City of Cape Coral before transferring to his current position as Chief/Director of Fire and EMS at the Professional Magnet Academies at Lofton in Gainesville, Florida. In addition to his service as a firefighter and paramedic, Hayes has also participated in research and development that would eventually revolutionize techniques for vehicle extrication and securing endotracheal tubes while transporting patients.
In addition to his vast experience in fire service, Hayes holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Georgia Southwestern. He also graduated from the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, and he completed a Fire Service Staff and Command Course from the University of Maryland. Altogether, Hayes boasts 30 years in the fire service and 30 years as an educator. He has served for 11 years as an officer.
Jack Colby is also a Sylvester native who currently resides in the Gordy Community. He served as fire chief at MCLB Albany’s fire department from 2003 until he retired in 2013. Colby’s career in the fire service began in the early ‘80s as a volunteer for the Sylvester Fire Department. He was hired on full time in 1983, and he worked at SFD until he was hired on at the base in 1990.
After serving as a captain from 1991 until 1996, Colby moved to Okinawa, Japan where he served as assistant chief of training for three years. In Japan, Colby planned developed and organized a comprehensive training program for the department’s Japanese firefighters. Additionally, he managed approximately 70 local-national firefighters spanning eight fire stations to provide fire protection on 14 military bases in Okinawa.
Upon returning to Worth County in 1999, Colby resumed his career at MCLB Albany where he served as assistant fire chief until he was promoted to chief in January of 2003. He was the first chief to be promoted from within the department on the marine base in Albany.
Additionally, he has worked as a fire science and emergency response instructor at Miller-Coors Brewing in Albany for over two decades. Beyond his experience, the candidate holds numerous certifications including the highest federal certifications for chief and instructor (Fire Officer IV, and Fire Instructor III).
The third candidate, Ralph Franklin, Jr., has served as an assistant chief in Citrus County, Florida for the past seven years. During his tenure with the Citrus County Department of Fire Rescue, Franklin has managed some 60 career firefighters and a force of 70 volunteers spanning 13 stations with a 65 vehicle fleet.
Before taking the job in Citrus County, the candidate served with Pasco County Fire Rescue in Land O’Lakes, Florida from 1985. Climbing the ranks of the department, Franklin served as a captain, assistant chief, and district chief before moving to his current department.
Beyond his experience, Franklin also holds numerous certifications including Fire Officer IV and Fire Instructor III. He also graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University in Alabama. The chief also holds Associate’s degree in Fire Science and EMS Technology.
The City of Sylvester recently stated they would like to have the new chief in place by September 1. However, with Monday being a holiday, the city council rescheduled their monthly work session for Tuesday evening. A decision on the matter may be reached during Tuesday’s meeting. The Sylvester Local News will provide any new information as it becomes available.