In a vote of 5-3 the council voted to confirm David Allen as the new Chief of the Pensacola Fire Department.
In a special meeting held by the City Council Monday afternoon, the council listened to the community, co-workers and fellow council members’ response to the confirmation.
“I know that our fire department has been neglected in all of those years. That is unthinkable today, to allow employees today to work in the conditions you have worked in,” stated council person Sherri Myers. “I want to know the truth about our fire department. Are there problems that need to be addressed? Do we have the best fire department that the public deserves? I don’t know. I would like to see the council hire an expert to come in and look at our fire department and give us recommendations on how to fix the problems that are there including racial problems that may be there. I just have too many concerns and too much information has reached the council that I cannot vote to confirm the nomination.
Bill Kapovich stated that he felt that the City council was being bum rushed. “It’s totally unprofessional for fire fighters to come to appear to advocate for this position. When I talked with someone at the station, they mentioned coming down here to support the interim fire chief and I told him no; let the council do what they do. This should be tabled or turned down.” Ellison Bennett also agreed that the nomination should be tabled. “As a former elected official, I’ve been following this situation from day one. I’m a Vietnam veteran, former city councilman of Hayne City and I’ve never been so disgusted with the process. After reviewing the information in Mr. Allen’s jacket, it is totally wrong to make him chief. This process should have put out for a national search and if it came back that Mr. Allen was best qualified for this position, then that would be find.
Dottie Dubison also expressed sentiments that the nomination of David Allen should be tabled. “I would ask you to look very carefully at the process. When I walk in as a private citizen to a swearing party being distributed in City Hall be a candidate’s staff apparently, that question for me reveals the reality of what kind of department we are going to end up with. This is not a popularity business. It is about how our business is conducted by the city. And as a citizen it’s very confusing. Please consider putting this off.”
T. H. Jones had a different opinion. “Thank you for the privilege of speaking. I speak on the behalf of David Allen. I served City Attorney 60 years ago under Vince Whibbs. We had four lawyers in the law firm, we made twenty thousand dollars a year and we did not spend not one cent for outside council. I’ve known David Allen for 30 or 40 years. He is a family man; he’s goes out an helps people who need help. I’m proud that he helped Ms. Meyers and I believe I’ve seen him places where my neighbor needed help. I think that you can’t find a finer man. You can’t find a better family man, you can’t find a better professional. I’m proud of the City Fire Department. I’m proud of the fact the every single homeowner in Pensacola benefits every year from the protection and also from the fact that their insurance rates are down because we have a professional, well run and attended fire department. If you want a good man, a paragon of integrity, pick David Allen. “
Freeman Brinkwell , recently retired Fire Captain, also spoke favorable of David Allen. “Can he leave this department? Yes. In a couple of years you will have people inside the department ready for the job. You want to do a national for chief with all of these people standing behind me? He can take this job and in a couple of years he will be gone. You can then have all of these people here who will be ready and want the position. Fire Departments are political and this is what has happened. The problem, when the interim chief [who} just left-the doors were opened and the Chief appointed who he wanted. The voters asked for a strong Mayor and that’s what you got. I’ve not been a fan of his on and off, but he’s done the right thing here. This department needs a Chief not an Interim Chief. You don’t need a national search. You’ve got good people right here, right now that in a couple of years could get this job.
After favorable endorsements from the Union Leader, fellow firemen and others, the vote was taken and David Allen was confirmed for the position of Chief of the Pensacola Fire Department.