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August 18, 2010 - 3:57pm

New chief expects to bring stability to top firefighting position

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire, James Maxwell.

james_maxwell.jpg

James Maxwell, Batavia's new fire chief, has been on the job for only a few days, but he says he's getting settled in. He's worked with only two platoons of firefighters so far and said he's tried to let them know he believes in open communication.

"Bad news doesn't get better with time, so let's jump right on it," Maxwell said.

So far, though, Maxwell doesn't see any big changes coming and is impressed with the dedication and drive of department staff.

After a couple of years of musical chairs in the chief's office, the main thing now is to establish stable leadership, Maxwell said.

"(Turnover) has been unfair to the firefighters because of the inconsistency it creates," Maxwell said. "Hopefully, we can bring some continuity to the position."

One of the big questions on everybody's mind, Maxwell acknowledged, given his background in running a mixed department -- volunteers working along side full-time paid firefighters: Is the new chief aiming to move Batavia in that direction?

"That issue has not been expressed to me up to this point (by City Hall)," he said. "Two years from now, the organization may look very different than it does today. We don't know that it won't change. We don't have a crystal ball. As for now, the short term, it's business as usual."

Steve Ognibene
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WOW he looks just like Fred Rogers from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
Gabor Deutsch
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