Van Helden new Charlotte County fire chief
Charlotte County Administrator Ray Sandrock has named Bill Van Helden as the new fire/EMS chief and public safety director. Van Helden, who has served as a deputy chief since February 2014, succeeds Marianne Taylor, who retired after a 29-year career with the department.
Van Helden joined Charlotte County as a mitigation planner in the Office of Emergency Management in February 2013 after serving as chief of the Cape Coral Fire Rescue and Emergency Services Department since September 2002. Prior to that, he worked as the department’s division chief of administration and operations and deputy director of Lee County Division of Public Safety.
Van Helden earned associates degrees in fire science and emergency medical technology from the former Edison Community College and a bachelor’s degree in professional studies from Barry University. He is a certified firefighter and emergency paramedic and has received advanced training at the National Fire Academy, Emergency Management Institute, the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
“Chief Van Helden has an exemplary record of service and experience in both firefighting and emergency management in multiple agencies across Southwest Florida,” Sandrock said. “His background and knowledge of our area’s risks from structure and brush fires and natural disasters make him perfectly suited for his new role.”
Van Helden praised his predecessor at a transfer of command ceremony last week as a dedicated public servant who infused the Public Safety Department with a spirit of service. Taylor began her career as an emergency medical technician in 1987 and rose through the ranks to become fire chief and public safety director in April 2014.