Mayor Joe Ganim on Wednesday announced he has named Richard Thode provisional fire chief following the recent retirement of Brian Rooney and also appointed Lance Edwards deputy fire chief. Ganim says Thode will lead the department on an interim basis until a permanent chief is appointed through a civil service testing process.
Ganim has taken heat from past and current members of the Bridgeport Firebirds for not elevating blacks and Latinos to leadership positions in the Fire Department.
More from city Communications Director Av Harris:
Mayor Joe Ganim today announced a new leadership team for the Bridgeport Fire Department, naming Richard Thode to the position of provisional Fire Chief and Lance Edwards to the position of Deputy Fire Chief. Thode, a 29-year veteran of the Bridgeport Fire Department, had been serving as Assistant Fire Chief and succeeds Brian Rooney, who retired as Bridgeport Fire chief last month after a 44-year career in the department. Mayor Ganim has also named decorated Stratford Fire Department Veteran Lance Edwards as the new Deputy Chief of the Bridgeport Fire Department. Edwards, who is African American, scored highest on the civil service test for Deputy Chief and will now be second in command of the Bridgeport Fire Department, outranking the other two Deputy Fire Chiefs. Edwards recently retired from the Stratford Fire Department after a 27-year career.
“I am very pleased to announce this new leadership team for the Bridgeport Fire Department, a team that can really take this department into the 21st century,” said Mayor Ganim. “We are very grateful to have a true leader in the person of Richard Thode as our new Fire Chief. Chief Thode is a firefighter’s firefighter–he has worked at every level of the Bridgeport Fire Department in his nearly three decades of service to this city and he’s well-poised to lead the department. Joining him in partnership is Deputy Chief Edwards who has also had an exemplary career and scored very highly in our civil service process as we sought to strengthen the management of this department. Deputy Chief Edwards’ appointment to such a high rank as an African American also reflects the value we will place going forward on diversity throughout all ranks of the department. I have full confidence that Chief Thode and Deputy Chief Edwards will bring the dedication and expertise the city of Bridgeport needs. They will make an excellent leadership team in the Fire Department.”
Richard Thode is a 29-year veteran of the Bridgeport Fire Department, starting as a firefighter in 1987 and rising through the ranks as a Lieutenant, Captain, and Assistant Chief. He has commanded firefighters in the field, integrated technology to improve their safety, and overseen reforms to the deployment of fire department resources to improve the productivity and efficacy of operations. Thode has also served on joint management-labor committees and is widely respected throughout the department. As Provisional Chief in Bridgeport, Thode will lead the department on an interim basis, as a civil service process to find a permanent appointee as Fire Chief is already underway. Thode is welcome to apply for the permanent position.
Lance Edwards has over 27 years of experience in firefighting and fire management. He started in 1988 in the town of Stratford as a firefighter, eventually moving up to the rank of Lieutenant and then Assistant Chief. He also has extensive background in labor-management mediation and negotiations. The appointment of Deputy Chief Edwards is a full-time, permanent position.