There's a new fire chief in town.
Howard Bailey officially begun his leadership at the Ormond Beach Fire Department on Monday, Aug. 1. As the former chief of Volusia County Fire Rescue, an agency he spent the last 30 years working for, he already knows the city well. And he said he's looking forward to learning more, and getting closer to the community thanks to the department's smaller size. Volusia County has 21 fire stations; Ormond has four.
"In my mind, I'm going from the best county to the best city," Bailey said. "... I have the opportunity, with that reduction in size, to do more for the workforce and more for the community.
Bailey began his career in fire service in 1989 as a volunteer firefighter with the Palm Coast Fire Department. At the time, he had been working as an electrician for Sea Ray Boats, and he used to spend a lot of time driving within the Palm Coast community. One day, he spotted a sign by the fire station across from the Palm Coast Community Center asking for volunteers.
For about a month, he recalled, he would drive by and see that sign. One day, he decided to stop by the station and ask about the volunteer opportunity. It would lead to him becoming both EMT and fire certified. As a fireman, you learn quickly whether or not it is the right job for you, Bailey said.
"Once you start going on the calls and have that ability to treat people or help people, it's either a feeling you have or you don't have," Bailey said.
Welcoming chief Bailey
In an emailed May 5 announcement from Ormond Beach City Manager Joyce Shanahan to the City Commission and city department directors, Shanahan wrote that Bailey upheld "the three pillars of the Ormond Beach Fire Department: courage, commitment, and compassion."
"He is passionate about public service and brings a wealth of experience across all fire department roles and levels," Shanahan wrote. "He specializes in operational efficiency and has built strong relationships throughout Volusia County within the public safety and emergency management community, as well as with community and civic leaders."
"He is passionate about public service and brings a wealth of experience across all fire department roles and level. He specializes in operational efficiency and has built strong relationships throughout Volusia County within the public safety and emergency management community, as well as with community and civic leaders."
City Manager Joyce Shanahan, in a May 5 email announcing Bailey as the next fire chief
In addition to his role as fire chief, Bailey is a member of the Volusia County Fire Chiefs Association, Florida Fire Chiefs Association, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He is also an adjunct instructor at the Flagler Technical Institute, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and Daytona State College.
Bailey is replacing interim Fire Chief David King, who led the department for a little over five months after the retirement of former Fire Chief Richard Sievers in February. Sievers had accepted a position as the city of Deerfield Beach's emergency manager.
At the City Commission meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 3, the City Commission welcomed Bailey to Ormond Beach.
"Chief, you've come highly recommended," City Commissioner Dwight Selby said. "We're going to get to know you better, but you also have big shoes to fill ... We have a high bar for the Ormond Beach Fire Department. We're confident that you can do a great job."
The city will be hosting a welcome reception for Bailey prior to its next City Commission meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 16 at the City Hall atrium.
Happy to serve
As the new fire chief, Bailey said his current goal is to familiarize himself with the department. He wants to meet the firefighters, get to know the community from this new vantage point, and reach out to the local businesses. From every building in the city to every person, he said he wants to get the pulse on Ormond Beach.
"I would want to, probably in the first 90 days, make sure that I've talked to every person," said Bailey, referring to his firefighters. "... But once we do that, it's almost like when you do strategic planning. You have to come in and get an assessment of the organization, and then you say, 'OK, these are some of the directions on how we're going to move forward."
This is an established agency, Bailey said, so future goals would revolve around how to better serve the community's needs — response times, types of calls and service areas.
"When you see the type of stuff we see all the time, you realize how simple life really is. "You don't have to complicate things, so I think people who are in this business are happy to serve the community, and I think there's just something there that tell us, as they say, we have a calling to help others."
Howard Bailey, new Ormond Beach Fire Chief
"At the end of the day, when somebody calls 911, they have every expectation that the fire department is going to show up and mitigate," Bailey said.
What makes him feel accomplished? He said is when he "got things done for the working people," whether that was through improved personal safety equipment, new trucks or through policy.
When he visits a fire station, he tells firefighters "Come to work, do your job, have fun and go home," and each of those phrases has different standards that fall under them. "Come to work" means coming to work on time, with the right attitude and appropriately dressed, for example. "Go home," in turns, means he wants all of his firefighters to make it home alive.
"When you see the type of stuff we see all the time, you realize how simple life really is," Bailey said. "You don't have to complicate things, so I think people who are in this business are happy to serve the community, and I think there's just something there that tell us, as they say, we have a calling to help others."