Cocoa firefighters may get new chief

BY KATE BRENNAN
FLORIDA TODAY

COCOA - The city may soon have a new fire chief after more than a year with a temporary one.

City officials offered the job and a $71,000 salary to Ricky Plummer, the fire chief of Biddeford, Maine.

Plummer accepted, but officials still were waiting Monday for the results of his background check.

Plummer, who has more than 25 years of firefighting experience, oversees 40 firefighters in a city of about 21,000 people, about 90 miles north of Boston. If he becomes fire chief in Cocoa, he would manage 32 firefighters in a city of about 16,400.

Cocoa firefighters said they're thrilled at the prospect of a permanent fire chief. A new fire chief could be on the job in Cocoa as early as June 6.

Retired Brevard County Battalion Chief Mike Taggart has served as interim fire chief for more than a year. He was hired after a series of department layoffs and the resignation of the former fire chief, Arthur Romprey.

"We're excited about getting a professional fire chief who wants to be a fire chief and will replace our temporary chief," said Ed Mohesky, president of the local firefighters' union. "The fire department needs a real leader to keep up with the normal daily challenges that come with running a fire department."

Plummer was one of three candidates for the job -- all from out of state. There were no in-house or in-state applications, according to City Manager Ric Holt.

The decision to hire a fire chief comes just five months after Cocoa residents voted to keep city fire and emergency medical services. City officials proposed contracting the services to the county to reduce costs.

Contact Brennan at 242-3722 or kbrennan@flatoday.net