Palm Coast, Florida - The Palm Coast City Council and Fire Chief Jerry Forte formally welcomed Deputy Fire Chief Bradd Clark to the City family at a special pinning ceremony at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Six other newly promoted fire officers and firefighters also received new badges at the ceremony. They are Battalion Chief Kyle Berryhill, Capt. Andrew Woolwine, Lt. Robert Ballou, Driver Engineer Michael LaGreca and Firefighters Katelyn Douglas and Joshua Meeker.
"Tonight I am proud to present to you our next round of promotions for the continuation of high quality fire service in the City of Palm Coast," Fire Chief Forte told the City Council. "Tonight is a celebration of successful succession planning, but more importantly a celebration of our newly promoted and appointed staff members. Their commitment and dedication to persist in their personal and professional development have led them to be here this evening."
Palm Coast Fire developed a comprehensive succession plan in anticipation of the retirement of several senior members of the department. Forte was promoted to Chief last September following the retirement of Chief Michael C. Beadle, setting the stage for Clark's hiring as Deputy Fire Chief and the promotions celebrated Tuesday.
"Several years ago our department came together to address the needs of the future," Chief Forte said. "As we prepared for the retirement of senior members of the department, we developed a plan to continue forward momentum without missing a beat."
"They say that the job of an old firefighter is to teach a young firefighter how to be an older firefighter, and so we continue our mission," he said.
The succession plan includes a mentoring program to prepare personnel for future promotion. The department's mentoring for fire lieutenants began in 2011 and has since been expanded to include driver engineers, fire captains and battalion chiefs. In addition, the department developed a volunteer internship program through which participating volunteer firefighters gain hands-on experience as they attend school to earn fire, EMT and paramedic certifications. Successful participants are offered career firefighting positions with the department as they become available. So far, nine volunteer interns have been hired as full-time career firefighters for Palm Coast Fire.
"It's commendable that we have been working to develop talent inside the City, as well as recruiting additional qualified candidates to join our Fire Department," said Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland.
"We congratulate these firefighters being honored for their dedication and commitment," Mayor Holland said. "I am confident our fire officers, led by Chief Forte, will continue to provide excellent care and fire protection services for Palm Coast."
Additional Information about Recognized Personnel
Deputy Chief Clark has been in the fire service since 1984 and has extensive experience as a fire officer. He came to the City from the Florida State Fire College, where he was a program manager, and previously served as a fire officer at departments in Florida and Oklahoma. Clark served as an adjunct professor for Oklahoma State University in the School of Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology, where he earned his bachelor's degree, and in the Fire and Emergency Management Program, where he was the program's first graduate. He has also completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy. He joined Palm Coast Fire Department on Jan. 14.
Battalion Chief Berryhill has been with Palm Coast Fire since 2005. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Flagler College and a Master of Public Administration from Barry University. He came up through the ranks in the department, having been promoted to lieutenant in 2011 and captain in 2016. He and his wife Danielle live in Palm Coast with their two children.
Capt. Woolwine joined the department in 2014, having previously served with the Palatka Fire Department. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida. Woolwine is also a Captain in the Florida National Guard. He and his wife Kate reside in Palm Coast with their two daughters.
Lt. Ballou has been with Palm Coast Fire since 2009. He earned his Bachelors of Science from Jacksonville University. He attended the First Coast Technical College for firefighting and Florida Medical Technical Institute for his paramedic certification. He was promoted to Driver Engineer in 2016 and also serves as President of the Palm Coast Professional Firefighters. He and his wife Janet live in Saint Augustine with their daughter.
Driver Engineer LaGreca joined the department in 2010 after moving from Elizabeth, New Jersey. A Palm Coast resident, he previously was a paramedic for several EMS agencies in North Jersey.
Firefighter-EMT Douglas is a 2017 graduate of Matanzas High School. She attended Daytona State College for firefighting and EMT certifications and is currently enrolled in DSC's paramedic program. She was hired by Palm Coast Fire in October 2018.
Firefighter-Paramedic Meeker began with Palm Coast Fire in 2006 as a volunteer firefighter. He is a 2006 graduate of Flagler Palm Coast High School. He attended the Flagler Adult Education for firefighting and Daytona State College for his paramedic certification. He previously served in nearby departments for almost a decade as a paramedic. Meeker is also a Specialist in the Florida National Guard.
For more information, contact the Palm Coast Fire Department at 386-986-2488.