The Charlottesville Fire Department now has a permanent leader, and it’s a familiar face.
Interim fire chief, Michael Thomas, has been made permanent, the city announced Tuesday.
“I am relieved. It has been a long process,” Thomas told The Daily Progress on Wednesday. “The 10-months interim role and then the competitive hiring process, it’s very humbling they selected me to lead. I can take a deep breath.”
Thomas said he is excited to continue the initiatives he already started at the fire department.
“The great thing about being interim chief and now permanent is that I can continue those initiatives I started and I can stay focused on department stabilization and growing our future officers," Thomas said. "We also always focus on keeping safety at forefront of what we do.”
Thomas joined the Charlottesville Fire Department in 2022 after more than 30 years with the Lynchburg Fire Department. In Charlottesville, Thomas has served as deputy chief of community risk reduction and as interim fire chief before being named to his new role this week.
Moving forward, Thomas said he hopes to increase his staff. The city is understaffed across a variety of departments and has been for some time.
"So far I have championed recruiting new officers," Thomas said. "We’ve got a few promotions coming up so we will have more positions open up. My primary focus is staffing but, as always, we are focusing on competitiveness with other departments in the area to retain current staff.”