ATLANTIC CITY – The city has a new fire chief for about half the price of the old one, the mayor said Friday.
Deputy Chief Scott Evans was sworn in as chief in a private ceremony attended by just family and close friends, Mayor Don Guardian said.
Evans, 50, is a 28-year veteran of the department, with a one-year break beginning in November 2007, when he served as mayor after Bob Levy resigned. He also has been an instructor for 22 years.
“I’m excited. I’m thrilled. I’m humbled,” Evans said after taking the oath. “I appreciate the mayor giving me the opportunity to lead the Fire Department during the difficult times we’re in.”
The city has been without a chief for more than a year, after Fire Chief Dennis Brooks retired April 1, 2015, amid an investigation into allegations he dropped his pants after going through the metal detector at the Public Safety Building.
The ongoing situation with the possible state take over kept Guardian from making the promotion right away. But he said Friday the move needed to be made.
“This isn’t any way to run a department, with no one knowing who’s director,” he said.
He also pointed out the monetary savings, which will total more than half of the former chief’s full pay.
In addition to his base salary, Brooks was making an additional 3 percent in command pay. He also was being paid $70,000 a year for owed sick leave and $9,000 for travel and dry cleaning, under a private contract.
But there is no longer a separate contract, Guardian said. Evans will make $154,000 a year, with the same benefits all firefighters have. There will be no command pay or expenses.
Guardian was elected right after Hurricane Sandy, when the firefighters had cast votes of no confidence in both Brooks and Deputy Chief Vincent Granese, which the then-new mayor said concerned him.
“I think he has the respect of his men and is well-qualified for the position,” Guardian said. “I think he’ll be great. I’ve been very, very satisfied with his performance.”
Evans scored the highest on the civil service chief’s test.
Because there were only two deputy chiefs at the time of Brooks’ retirement, Guardian could have picked one without a test. But he decided to open the test up to the seven captains.
Evans was born in Atlantic City and grew up in Brigantine, where he went to school. He attended Star of the Sea Church and graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1984.
He is currently pursuing a degree in fire science.
“I’m looking to advance our technology and increase training,” Evans said.
“I think my experience and education have prepared me for the job,” he said. “We have a great team helping us move the Fire Department through these rough times.”
Contact: 609-272-7257 LCohen@pressofac.com Twitter@LyndaCohen