1. #1
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    Default Tarpon Springs Fla--Fire Chief Steps Down

    I know this man personally. The Department will be losing a great man.
    ________________

    St. Petersburg Times--North Pinellas

    Tired of riding desk, he opts to ride trucks
    Saying he's had enough of paperwork, Chief Kevin Bowman will return to the front lines of firefighting.
    By NORA KOCH, Times Staff Writer
    Published March 30, 2005

    TARPON SPRINGS - For 13 years he's sat behind a desk, spending the days writing policy, making budgets, attending meetings.

    Not fighting fires or responding to medical calls - duties that inspired Kevin Bowman to the fire academy two decades ago.

    With two years until he's eligible to retire, the Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue chief stepped down this week to return to the front lines as a district captain.

    Bowman, 43, will stay at the department's helm until the city selects a new chief through a national search, he said. He anticipates a few more months in the chief's position before he can join the department's 33 firefighters manning two stations.

    When he does, Bowman will trade 9-to-5 days, suits and ties and City Commission meetings for 24-hour shifts, firefighter gear and responding to calls.

    "I'm not doing this because I hate my job," said Bowman, who started with the department right out of junior college in 1982. "I'm doing this because I need a fresh change for the last part of my career. I need to get out and see the people that I'm helping face to face."

    He remembers his first fire, back when he was 20 and fresh out of what was then St. Petersburg Junior College. The call was to a duplex, and he and his partner were sent to search the smoke-filled home on the right. In the bathroom, after his partner told him to search again, he found two legs and carried the body to the front door.

    "Then I realize, I'm carrying a dog," he chuckled.

    Since that first fire, when he was a firefighter and paramedic making $4.95 an hour, Bowman has worked his way up to lieutenant, captain and then deputy chief. He coordinated the department's emergency medical services, which handles about 85 percent of the department's 3,000 calls each year.

    Along the way, he earned a bachelor's degree at Eckerd College and a master's in public administration at Troy State University.

    He was named interim chief when Harry Leonard retired in July 2002, and then beat 48 other applicants from 21 states to become head of the department.

    The department has always named its chiefs from within its ranks, beginning with the city's first professional fire chief in 1947. The search for Bowman's replacement will be the second time the city opened the search to outsiders.

    City manager Ellen Posivach said she will begin the search immediately, with advertisements that should reach candidates around the country.

    "He's done an excellent job as fire chief, and I more than commend him for looking in his heart and deciding what he wants to do," she said.

    Bowman is leaving the post with a little trepidation, he said, but proud of his accomplishments over the past 21/2 years. In that time, the department refurbished its ladder trucks, changed building plans from papers in binders to electronic records and installed laptop computers in all vehicles.

    It was a few months ago, after a casual conversation with a friend, that Bowman started thinking about taking the district captain job, he said.

    He never wanted to spend his working days behind a desk. When his father urged him to take more math classes and consider a career in accounting, a teenage Bowman balked.

    "I don't ever want to have a job where I'm sitting in an office all day," he told his dad. "So I joined the fire department."

    In the sunset of his career - the department forces retirement at 30 years - Bowman felt an urge to return to the work that drew him to firefighting. When the district captain position opened up a few months ago, he started calculating the salary difference and thinking about stepping down.

    Bowman, who would draw a salary of $81,434 as chief this year, will take a roughly $5,000 pay cut, he said. Unlike the chief's salary, the district captain's salary of about $62,000 a year is supplemented with holiday and overtime pay and other extras.

    In preparation for the national search, the City Commission Tuesday night upped the fire chief position's pay grade to a range from $59,723 to $89,584 to "ensure the ability to draw from an exemplary pool of candidates," according to a memo.

    Bowman's decision to leave the top job in the department came as a surprise to many, including Posivach and the mayor.

    "But it's about what makes you happy in your world, and this is what he wants to do," said Mayor Beverley Billiris.

    Nora Koch can be reached at 727 771-4304 or nkoch@sptimes.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  2. #2
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    Default New Positions

    TARPON SPRINGS - Lifting a hiring freeze that had been in place nearly five years, the city commission approved four staff positions during a special session this week.
    One of those new hires will be a replacement for Fire Chief Kevin R. Bowman, who is stepping down after 30 months on the job.

    Bowman, a 23-year veteran, will assume the new position of district captain, allowing him to spend more time with firefighters and the public. ``I will be helping people face to face,'' said Bowman, who has the option of retiring in two years.

    City Manager Ellen S. Posivach said a nationwide search for a new fire chief has begun. She is also seeking applicants for an urban planner to assist Planning and Zoning Director Renea Vincent, a project coordinator to oversee construction projects in the city and a landscaper to maintain beautification projects in the Community Redevelopment Agency district.

    Funds for the positions will come from additional tax receipts gained from higher property tax collections in the district, said Judy Staley, the city's information officer.

    William Burr <
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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