The special operations chief with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department has been named the new Morrisville fire chief, the town announced Monday.
M. Foy Jenkins II, who got his start as a volunteer firefighter in New Bern, will fill the spot formerly occupied by Todd Wright. Wright left his post with the fire department in July to join the town’s staff as assistant town manager.
The department has managed Wright’s departure by rotating fire department officers to the chief’s office on an interim basis. Tom Dooley, who is currently serving as interim chief, will continue to do so until Jenkins starts work on May 8.
Jenkins was selected from a pool of 30 candidates, the town said. His starting salary will be $100,000.
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Jenkins, 52, has been working for fire departments for the past 34 years. He began his career when he was in high school in New Bern, his hometown, and worked as a volunteer firefighter. He has a bachelor’s degree in emergency medical care at Western Carolina University.
Jenkins said one reason he is returning to North Carolina is to be closer to his elderly mother, who still lives in New Bern.
His first job out of college was with Orange County EMS, where he got to know the Triangle region. Back then, in the late ’80s, Morrisville was little more than a crossroads between Chapel Hill and Raleigh.
Jenkins remembers being at a show in 2008 where he saw an impressive ladder truck from Morrisville. He recognized the town’s name and did a double-take.
“I said, ‘Morrisville? Isn’t that a volunteer department?’ ” Jenkins said.
The story illustrates’ Jenkins’ passion for his career.
“Some people go to Disney World for vacation,” he said. “Me, I go to Detroit and ride new fire trucks.”
Jenkins said he’s looking forward to working in a department where he knows all his coworkers by name. In Miami-Dade County, a department with about 2,000 sworn officers and another 400 administrative staff, that was never possible.
In a 49-person department like Morrisville’s, the nature of a firefighter’s job is also different, Jenkins says. In Miami-Dade, an officer might only be tasked with driving a particular type of fire truck, but a Morrisville officer is responsible for a larger array of tasks.
According to a news release, Jenkins has focused on improving firefighter safety throughout his career. The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department was one of the first metro-size departments in the country to assign thermal imaging cameras, portable radios and flashlights to every firefighter on all fire trucks.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan