After nearly six months, the City of Bolivar’s search for a new fire chief has ended with the promotion of deputy chief Brent Watkins to the department’s top leadership role.
City administrator Tracy Slagle announced the decision Tuesday morning.
Slagle said Watkins was one of eight applicants, three of which were interviewed for the position.
“The city is happy to welcome Chief Watkins into his new role after being a part of our fire department in voluntary and career roles for the past 20 years,” she said.
Most recently, Watkins served as the department’s deputy chief and the city’s emergency management director.
She said he will continue to maintain his emergency management responsibilities, as well.
Mayor Chris Warwick said the city is excited to announce Watkins’ leadership of the department.
“Brent has many years of service within the city’s fire service and emergency management departments,” Warwick said. “The city looks forward to Chief Watkins leading the fire department into the future.”
“I am humbled to lead the amazing staff of BCFD and am excited to serve the Bolivar community in this new role,” Watkins said Tuesday.
During Watkins’ tenure with the fire department, BCFD has experienced numerous changes, including its evolution from a volunteer department to a combination career/volunteer department in 2014.
The department also improved its ISO rating from Class 3 to Class 2 following an assessment in 2018, a project several years in the making, according to previous coverage.
In April 2017, Watkins was first elected as a southern district board member for Polk County’s E-911 board. He returned to the two-year seat following an uncontested race this April.
Watkins’ new role comes after former chief Jim Ludden’s resignation Friday, March 15, after six years at the department’s helm. Ludden accepted a position with Battlefield Fire Protection District, according to previous coverage.