New Female Fire Chief Signs Contract in Florida

Cindy Dick, a captain with the Tallahassee Fire Department, will become the first woman to serve as the agency's chief when she starts in her new position Monday.

City Manager Anita Favors Thompson announced she and Dick, 39, had reached an agreement on a contract Thursday.

"I'm very excited about it," the new chief said. "I've had a great partnership with the city for 18 years, and I'm looking forward to more of the same."

Favors Thompson said she chose the veteran firefighter for her broad experience in several management roles and for the respect she enjoys among local firefighters. The new chief has worked at the 265-employee department since she was 21.

"I have a passion not only for the career, but to this specific organization," Dick said.

She replaces Division Chief Steve Anderson, who has been acting as interim chief for the past seven months. The department's permanent chief, Tom Quillin, retired from the city March1 after 15 years in the position. Two weeks later, Quillin took over Leon County's Emergency Medical Services.

Dick was chosen over three older, higher-ranked firefighters - including the Tallahassee Fire Department's second-highest ranked official, deputy chief Dan Spillman - for the job. Spillman did not return a call for this story.

"She's young, somewhat inexperienced, but extremely talented," said Lt. Travis Oaks, the head of the local firefighters union.

Oaks said Dick was "honest and transparent," and that most firefighters he's talked to agreed she'd make a great leader - a vital endorsement in a tight-knit group that often eats and sleeps together in the fire stations.

"We're a family," Oaks said. "That's why we needed someone who leads the pack in loyalty, commitment and can build trust in the group."

One of Dick's first tasks will be helping to negotiate salaries and benefits for the firefighters. The bargaining union and the city have been at loggerheads over a pay package for months, and further mediation is scheduled in the coming weeks.

Dick will be making $85,000 a year, and will be eligible for an extra $3,000 after six months.

Distributed by the Associated Press