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Interim Charlottesville fire chief tapped

A longtime Lynchburg fire official who joined the Charlottesville Fire Department in June has been tapped as the interim chief.

Michael L. Thomas has spent 30 years in firefighting in Lynchburg and had been serving Charlottesville as the deputy chief of community risk reduction. He will assume command of the fire department effective Friday, following the departure of the prior chief, Hezedean Smith, according to a city release.

Outgoing chief Smith informed the city in a late-September letter that he was leaving the helm of Charlottesville department after two years to accept a chief position in Polk County, Florida. Prior to Charlottesville, Smith had spent nearly a quarter century in firefighting in the Florida community of Orlando.

The city release indicates that interim chief Thomas has more than three decades of fire and emergency service experience, with certifications as a fire inspector and fire investigator. Additionally, the release notes, Thomas has attended the National Fire Academy, and is currently enrolled in the International City/County Management Association’s Professional Development Academy.

Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers pronounced himself delighted to make the interim appointment. A search for a permanent chief has yet to be announced.


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