Orlando fire official to be next Charlottesville chief

Charlottesville’s new fire chief will start on December 1 after wrapping up a long stint in central Florida. Dr. Hezedean Smith has been with the Orlando Fire Department since 1996 and is its current assistant chief. 

“In looking forward to starting my role on December 1, it will be a very special day for my family and I because I will join an organization that embodies itself as a family with integrity, respect,  and excellence,” Smith said. 

Smith began his public safety career in the Air Force. He has a Doctor of Management degree in Organizational Leadership and a master’s degree in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix. 

“It is worth noting that Dr. Smith has over thirty years of experience in the fire service and that he has an extensive array of experience from operations, to budgeting, to [Information Technology] to EMS operations as well,” said interim city manager John Blair. 

Chief Hezedean Smith

Smith said he looked forward to starting work. 

“Given the current challenges facing our nation, state and city, I look forward to utilizing my skills, my knowledge of emergency services and leadership and management skills to help move our city forward,” Smith said. 

Smith fills a vacancy left when Fire Chief Andrew Baxter resigned following a public dispute with former City Manager Tarron Richardson. Richardson himself resigned last month. The city is seeking a search firm to help with finding a permanent replacement. 


Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the October 13, 2020 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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