4:23pm

Wed May 11, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Council Praises Interim Fire Chief

It's been two months since Lexington Mayor Jim Gray relieved Bob Hendricks of his duties as fire chief, citing an inability to manage firefighter overtime and the division's budget. A current member of the fire department, Keith Jackson, was named the interim chief. Lexington Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason says he's been closely monitoring the fire department's transition.

"Communication has vastly improved to and from the top ranks. Several times recently interim Chief Jackson has sent letters via e-mail to the entire force. I've heard numerous times from people who have been on the force 10 to 15 years that this is the first time they can ever remember that happening."

Mason and Jackson spoke at the Tuesday work session of the Urban County Council. Several members were pleased with the update.

"We've been asking for this type of presentation for and we finally got it today. [We]appreciate it," said councilman Kevin Stinnett.

Chief Jackson said some staff will be reassigned over the next several months to make sure the department has enough firefighters on the front line. Upper management is seeking ideas from all three platoons within Lexington fire for ways to move forward. One idea involves launching an on-duty paramedic training course that would not incur overtime costs.

Chief Hendricks, meanwhile, has not yet resigned and remains on the city's payroll. He has applied for a disability retirement, which is pending before the Lexington Police & Fire Pension Board.