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Hayes to take over as new city fire chief

By Staff | Mar 7, 2013

After serving the city of Gainesville for two decades, Tim Hayes will take up the reins as the Cape Coral Fire Department’s new fire chief next month.

His employment will begin on April 8, with a salary of $125,000.

Hayes is currently the deputy chief of operations at the Gainesville Fire Rescue Department. Hired in 1987, he has served as a training specialist, driver operator, lieutenant, district chief, training chief, assistant chief of Fire Safety Management and deputy chief of the Risk Reduction Bureau.

“I am excited that Tim Hayes has agreed to join our organizational family,” Cape Coral City Manager John Szerlag said in a statement Wednesday.

“I have all the confidence that he will perform in a high-quality, functional and professional fashion; one that fits the culture of our organization,” he said.

Former Cape Fire Chief Bill Van Helden retired from the department in February, taking a job as a mitigation planner with Charlotte County.

His salary at his departure was about $123,802.

Van Helden had served the city for more than 16 years.

Hayes was selected from a group of five finalists.

The other finalists included:

n David A. Casey, former deputy fire chief for the Seminole Tribe of Florida Fire Rescue

n Heather L. Burford, fire chief and director of emergency management for the Town of Ridgefield Fire Department in Ridgefield, Conn.

n Bryan Heirston, former deputy fire chief for the Oklahoma City Fire Department

n Dennis L. Rubin, former fire chief for the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, Hayes expressed excitement about the new job.

“It’s a very dynamic new city, the city of Cape Coral,” he said. “It’s a pretty exciting community down there. They have a lot of stuff going on.”

While the Cape department has about 190 certified positions and 10 fire stations, the Gainesville department has 165 employees and eight stations.

“It’s very similar to the fire department that I’m at now,” Hayes said.

He is looking forward to working with the Cape community.

“This has been my home for a long time,” Hayes said of Gainesville. “It’s going to be a new chapter in my life. It’s going to be a new challenge.”

He explained that he wants to focus on preparing the department, or team, to win – that if a firefighter or citizen dies, that person is “one of our own.” Team preparation means knowing the game and rules, and having the skills.

“The fire service has to do everything right all the time,” Hayes said.

First priorities include looking at the department’s budget and equipment.

“Also, get a feel for the city manager and see where he’s at for what vision he has for the department,” he said.

Hayes will look to the service being provided, as well.

“I want to make sure our fire department is meeting the needs of the community,” he said.

Asked what he will miss about Gainesville, he cited the people.

“It’s going to be the folks, for sure,” Hayes said, calling them close.

“I want to do the same thing in Cape Coral,” he said. “I want to have that same family atmosphere.”

Hayes expects to mark his last day in Gainesville in early April.

According to his resume, he has 30 years of experience in emergency service delivery and supervision, and 15 years of managerial and budget experience, with about 10 years in at the “executive command level.”

Hayes has a bachelor’s of science from Georgia Southwestern University, along with associate’s degree in EMS and fire service. In addition, Hayes is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.

He has been married for 29 years to Sheila; they have three grown children.