Palm Coast Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Forte will be Palm Coast's next fire chief, following current Chief Michael Beadle, who has announced his intention to retire on Sept. 27.
Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon announced the change during an Aug. 21 City Council meeting as firefighters and firefighter trainees gathered for the City Council's vote to donate a fire truck to the Fire Academy at Flagler Palm Coast High School.
“I have watched Jerry grow in his career, both in his skills and in assisting Chief Beadle with the development of the Fire Department," Landon said. "I have watched him grow into a strong leader. ... The working relationship between our fire chief and deputy chief has allowed for not just a smooth transition, but also one through which the department has grown stronger over the past few years. All of that led to a very easy decision to appoint Jerry as the next Palm Coast fire chief.”
Forte started as a Palm Coast volunteer firefighter in 1990 and became a career member as a firefighter/EMT in September 1992, according to a news release from the city of Palm Coast government. He has served as deputy fire chief since 2009 and earned the Chief Fire Officer designation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing in 2017.
Forte, an honors graduate of Daytona State College’s fire science program, also earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s in public policy. He holds numerous state certifications, is a member of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association and was the state’s 2002 Training Officer of the Year, according to the news release.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with my friend, my mentor, my brother Mike, who we’re going to miss…a lot,” Forte said. “He has been in my life for the last 30 years in the great times and even in the most difficult times. No one knows how much he means to everybody in our department, and the legacy that he’s leaving behind is in the employees and the people who are here because they want to be here. And I can’t thank him enough for the example he’s set.”
Beadle became Palm Coast’s first fire chief in September 2000, not long after the city incorporated, according to the news release.
Palm Coast Fire Department has grown today to five stations, 57 career personnel and more than 50 volunteer firefighters, fire police and associates.