Meet The Three Finalists For Escambia County Fire Chief

April 16, 2018

Interviews are set to be held this week with the three finalists for the Escambia County fire chief job.

The county expects to being the top three candidates to Escambia County on Thursday to tour the Emergency Operations Center and public safety building, and some local Escambia County Fire Rescue stations, followed by a meet and greet with staff, volunteer firefighters and full-time firefighters. The selection committee will conduct in-person interviews with the top three candidates Friday morning.

The finalists for Escambia County fire chiefs are, in alphabetical order:

Stephen F. Cox, South Bend, IN

Stephen Cox  is a U.S. Army veteran with 25 years experience in fire services.

Cox has been with the South Bend Fire Deportment since 1993. He began as a firefighter/paramedic and promoted to lieutenant and captain before becoming assistant chief of EMS in 2007. The department provides service from 11 fire stations with an annual operational budget of approximately $33 million. the full-time staff consists of 257 sworn firefighters and eight civilian support staff.

He was promoted to fire chief in 2012. He served as as an Army combat medic for over five years, including deployment to Seoul, South Korea, and during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

Cox holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Indiana University in South Bend and has completed courses from the National Fire Academy.

Russell Clark Nail, Melbourne, FL

Russell Nail has 26 years experience in fire services, including over nine years at the command level. He has led departments with up to 17 fire stations, over 500 personnel and up to a $100 million budget.

Nail has worked as fire chief-emergency manager for the City of Palm Bay Fire Rescue Department in Florida since July 2017, and previously served as battalion chief in administration. In 2004, has was a lieutenant of field operations and training for the City of Orlando Fire Department and worked his way through the ranks as a district chief, assistant fire chief and deputy fire chief. He began his fire service as a volunteer for the Brevard County Fire Department .

He holds a bachelor of science degree in fire and emergency services from the University of Florida and associates degrees in general studies and fire science technology from Brevard Community College.

Paul Randall Smith, Mobile, AL

Paul Smith has 35 years experience in EMS, 31 years in the fire service, 22 years in disaster response and just over a year in law enforcement.

Smith is currently deputy chief of operations for the Mobile Fire Department,  responsible for third shift including 130 personnel, 20 stations, 25 engines and ladder trucks and 11 ambulances. He has served the Mobile Fire Department as deputy chief and interim fire chief. He spent just over a year as a police cadet with the Mobile Police Department.

He has worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Hume Services National Disaster Medical System since August 1995.

Smith holds a masters degree in emergency management and a bachelors of science in emergency services administration. graphic.


6 Responses to “Meet The Three Finalists For Escambia County Fire Chief”

  1. M in Bratt on April 19th, 2018 2:42 pm

    I wonder if anybody on this selection committee even bothered to look at Florida Firefighter Standards Law? My understanding of the law is that without a Florida Firefighter Certification, a person cannot function as a firefighter in the State of Fl. This would mean that an uncertified Chief could not function as commander at a fire or other emergency without being in violation of this law. I guess this would not bother Escambia County, because we already have a Sheriff that is not a certified law enforcement officer in Fl.

  2. Bob C. on April 16th, 2018 6:22 pm

    The Selection Committee, in spite of a certain special interest commissioner, seems to have done a great job of narrowing the field of candidates.

    Best Wishes to the New Fire Chief, our very lives depend upon you and your leadership of our Heroes and Heroines in the FD and EMS.

    Should anyone ever experience a fire or medical emergency or accident it matters little who reaches in and pulls us to safety and help.

  3. Sue on April 16th, 2018 4:34 pm

    May the best candidate win. Just hope he knows what he’s getting into going to work for Escambia County!!

  4. nod on April 16th, 2018 2:40 pm

    It is wonderful that we are down to three. May the best of the best be chosen to keep us safe.

  5. Retired chief on April 16th, 2018 10:18 am

    I think as a retired fire chief that of my choice it will be Russell Nail from FL has the best qualities He holds a bachelor of science degree in fire and emergency services from the University of Florida and associates degrees in general studies and fire science technology from Brevard Community College..

  6. Grand Locust on April 16th, 2018 7:32 am

    Courage is getting the best candidates despite where they have worked or lived. It is not popular to do the right thing when the GOB network will attack because they think that only local candidates should be chosen. It is true that there are local talented people, but the best candidates appear to have not been local.

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