Hiring of Uneducated Fire Chief in Florida Sparks Debate

FireRescue1 has the story and two pages of comments here: Hiring of Fla. fire chief with no degree sparks education debate

Ron Rogers has been hired as Hillsborough County Fire & Rescue’s Fire Chief despite his lack of education. The education is a requirement of the position he now holds. To be exact “A master’s degree is preferred, but a bachelor’s with work experience will suffice.”

I say uneducated because we have to have a high school diploma or equivalent GED. That is a given. Rogers highest academic achievement is a high school diploma. No college degree exists with Rogers name on it.

This isn’t really about Rogers, this is about the process

The fire service has put such an emphasis on education, yet our communities might not care. Some firefighters are shaking their heads wondering what the hell is going on. Why did they waste their time getting a college degree or more? How could someone without the education get the highest job in the department?

We aren’t talking about experience. Rogers has 29 years on the job with Hillsborough.

Not firefighting experience though.  If you read the timeline of Chief Rogers career, it does not mention him ever riding on fire apparatus.

Senior emergency medical technician. Paramedic, senior paramedic, district chief for Emergency Medical Services. In 1997, Fire Rescue and medical services merged. He got a new title: battalion chief. He kept moving up. By 2006, he became assistant chief of administration, a job he held until Nesmith named him interim fire chief in January.

I don’t know Rogers. I don’t know if he can do the job. I cannot say whether this is a good move or a bad move by the County. I will say that a lot of the comments on FireRescue1 lead me to believe that the readers quit reading after the line “Chief Ron Rogers, 49, has a high school diploma and 29 years of experience with the agency.” The reason I say that is because they obviously didn’t read where that experience was experienced. I think if they had, they might change their tune.

I imagine that some firefighters are also pointing to the facts below…

Finally…this point:

Though he appointed Rogers interim chief before he left, retired Hillsborough fire Chief William “Bill” Nesmith said he was surprised Rogers was even considered for the permanent job.

“If a person came to any other major department with no degree, his application would be filed in the ’round can’ by a secretary,” Nesmith said. “Wouldn’t even get an interview.”

What do you guys think?

Read the entire article here with many comments