Polk County Names New Fire Chief
David Cash, the emergency management director, will assume the post July 7.

By Diane Lacey Allen
The Ledger

BARTOW -- David Cash, the county's emergency management director who helped get Polk through last year's unprecedented hurricane season, will return to his firefighting roots July 7 when he becomes the county's new fire chief.

Cash will take over the position left open by Chief Doug Lewis, who left Nov. 1 to become the Pinellas Park Fire Chief.

"I had a great job and I enjoyed it in emergency management," said Cash, who initially joined the county as a firefighter in 1976. "But after 14 years, sometimes you need something to reinvigorate your career -- new challenges and working with a different group of employees."

Cash is well-known in emergency management circles and recently spoke at the 19th Annual Governor's Hurricane Conference in Tampa.

"My goal is to make a model fire department for the area and maybe state and national -- essentially, what we've done with emergency management here," Cash said.

Cash's move to fire services director is a lateral career switch and comes with no raise in his $87,214 annual salary. It follows a series of other moves in the county's public safety department that began when Director Larry Alexander retired March 31.

Alexander's departure moved Jim Bell, a former public safety director, from his job as county transportation director back to the post he was hired for in 1991.

Bell made his decision regarding Cash last Thursday and announced it on Friday, according to County Manager Mike Herr. Bell was unavailable for comment on Monday because he is out of the country until next month.

"He's (Cash) got a lot of experience and we think he's going to do a tremendous job," said Herr.

Bell will be back to work July 6. Cash will become fire services director and Pete McNally, a program manager in public safety, will become interim emergency management director.

The county will begin advertising for Cash's old job.

Herr said the search most likely will be a statewide effort, utilizing recruiting Web sites that have some national exposure.

Diane Lacey Allen can be reached at diane.allen@theledger.com or 863-802-7514.