Jacksonville: New fire chief named at event

Published on Thursday, 15 May 2014 23:58 - Written by Faith Harper fharper@tylerpaper.com

The city of Jacksonville announced its new fire chief at a special ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Brent Smith was named the fire chief at a welcoming ceremony in the Norman Activity Center, 526 E. Commerce St. He will replace current chief Paul White in roughly three weeks

“He is well-known in the community, grew up here and went to school here,” White said. “He seems like a real good match to be fire chief in Jacksonville.”

Smith served as the city’s fire marshal and assistant chief for 20 years from 1988 to 2008.

After leaving Jacksonville, Smith worked as a salesman for a fire equipment company, and he currently is the fire chief at Bell Helicopter in Hurst. His duties there included coordinating and overseeing rescue firefighting and structure firefighting, as well as prevention programs, according to his resume.

He holds a fire science degree from Tyler Junior College, where he was formerly managing director of fire science and a current adjunct professor, as well as a bachelor’s degree in business administration from LeTourneau University.

Smith also holds master-level firefighting, investigator and inspector certifications and a level III master fire instructor certification. Additionally, he is a master peace officer and a basic instructor as well as an EMT paramedic and advanced EMS coordinator.

Smith said he is honored to come back to serve the Jacksonville community. He said he moved to the city on his sixth birthday, and it’s home.

“The different roads that we travel, the opportunities we take — sometimes those roads and those opportunities take us to other places and communities, but the reality is there is no place like home and Jacksonville is my home,” Smith said.

Smith said the department and the city already has an excellent group of leaders, and he is excited to begin working with all of the departments.

“The city of Jacksonville has a group of employees that are phenomenal, and they are phenomenal people,” he said. “It’s really exciting to come back and work with all those (people) with all the city departments.”

City Manager Mo Raissi said 25 applicants applied for the position including four current employees. A panel including Raissi, White, Tyler Fire Chief Jim Johnson and the city’s personnel director interviewed all of the applicants.

“I’m very confident in his level of skills,” Raissi said. “Since he’s been gone, he’s been working and enhancing his knowledge.”