2016-07-01 / Community

South Portland promotes deputy fire chief

By Wm. Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

James Wilson James Wilson SOUTH PORTLAND — Almost a year after the resignation of its fire chief, South Portland has a new man under the big white helmet.

On Friday, June 24, City Manager Jim Gailey announced in an email to employees that he had elevated Deputy Chief James Wilson to the role of fire chief. Wilson replaces Kevin Guimond, who resigned Oct. 28, 2015, after 13 years as chief to take a take a job as fire protection analyst for Iberdrola, the corporate parent of Central Maine Power.

Wilson has a long history with the SPFD. After starting his career as a volunteer firefighter in Cape Elizabeth, where he eventually rose through the ranks to become deputy chief, he joined the South Portland Fire Department in 1996 as a firefighter and emergency medical technician, similarly climbing the ladder at regular intervals. He earned the white hats of lieutenant in 2006 and deputy chief in 2012.

Wilson also served on the Scarborough Fire Department from 2007 to 2012, giving up that job, as well as his Cape Elizabeth duties, when named one of two deputy chiefs in the South Portland fire service, in order to focus on that leadership role.

A 1990 graduate of Cape Elizabeth High School, Wilson holds am associate’s degree in fire science from Southern Maine Technical College, a bachelor of science degree in applied technical leadership from the University of Southern Maine, and a master’s degree in emergency services management from Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Alabama. He graduated from the city’s leadership academy at Southern Maine Community College in 2014.

In addition to his educational degrees, Wilson holds professional certifications as a Firefighter Level 1, Chief Officer Level 2, Forest Firefighter, Hazardous Materials Technician, Open Water Diver and Fire Service Instructor Level 1. He also holds a 50T Merchant Marine Master’s License from the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to South Portland Human Resources Director Don Brewer, the city received 11 applications for the fire chief job, six of which came from in-house. Eight of those applicants took written and oral exams administered by the South Portland Civil Service Commission, which then passed on the Top 5 names to Gailey.

Gailey said Wilson will be paid a base salary of $88,000 per year. Miles Haskell, who had led the fire department since Guimond’s departure, was being paid the equivalent of $91,000 per year as interim chief.

Normally, Gailey would have had the final word on naming the new chief, but having recently announced his own resignation, he stepped back, leaving the selection to a seven-person committee: Brewer; Assistant City Manager Joshua Reny; Police Chief Edward Googins; former city councilor Melissa Linscott; Portland Fire Chief David Jackson; Captain Michael Baroody, commander of the Northern New England sector for the U.S. Coast Guard; and Chris Joyce, Maine wafer fabrication manager for Texas Instruments.

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