About seven years after Richard Dolan became Baker County’s first full time fire chief in charge of an all-volunteer firefighting force, the county is now searching for his successor. Mr. Dolan plans to retire at the end of this month, ending a career that began in 1979 as a volunteer firefighter in Jacksonville.
After 34 years in the stressful, physically demanding job putting out fires at all hours of the day and night, plus responding to countless car crashes and other accidents, Mr. Dolan said he wants to retire while he is still relatively healthy.
“I had six bypasses (heart surgery) three years ago,” the 60-year-old chief said last week after discussing the matter with county commissioners during a workshop session on April 2.
During a regular board meeting immediately following the workshop, the board voted 4-1 to seek a full-time replacement for Mr. Dolan, whose annual salary is $43,000, after rejecting a proposal offered by Commissioner James Croft to hire someone part time to do the job for $12,000.
During the workshop County Manager C.J. Thompson said the actual work performed by Mr. Dolan and the time he invests in the job clearly demonstrate that it is a full time role.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him respond (to an emergency) in the middle of the night after working all day. It’s a 24/7 job,” Mr. Thompson said.
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