Josh Waldo, deputy chief of the Oak Ridge Fire Department, has accepted a job as chief of the Bozeman Fire Department in Montana.
Waldo’s first day on the new job will be August 24. His last day in Oak Ridge hasn’t been determined, but it could be in mid-August.
Bozeman has about 40,000 people, which is a little larger than Oak Ridge, but its fire department is smaller. The Bozeman Fire Department has three fire stations and roughly 50 personnel, including chiefs and inspectors, Waldo said Tuesday. That compares to four fire stations and about 70 personnel in Oak Ridge.
Waldo, 34, has been deputy fire chief in Oak Ridge for about 16 months. He was promoted from assistant chief to deputy chief in March 2014. He was promoted to assistant chief about 2.5 years earlier, in November 2011.
As deputy chief, Waldo oversees fire prevention, training, daily operations, and new building inspections.
Waldo, who was born at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, said he was born and raised in East Tennessee and lived on Laurel Road in Marlow for most of his life. He has worked for ORFD since October 1, 2007. He was previously a firefighter at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, where he worked for former cleanup contractor Bechtel Jacobs for about 2.5 years.
Waldo has a wife Cindy and son Wyatt, 10. Besides his service in Oak Ridge, he is also a former chief for the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department. He held that position from 2009 to 2014. MVFD has about 20-25 volunteer personnel.
Waldo was a finalist for a fire chief position in Idaho Falls last year.
Besides leaving his family—his parents still live in the area—Waldo said leaving the Oak Ridge firefighters will be difficult.
“I’ve come up through the ranks there,” he said. “Hands down, that’s going to be the hardest part, leaving such good people.”
Waldo said the Oak Ridge Fire Department has always been well-trained, but the personnel have taken education, leadership, and professional development to another level.
He said there was once one person with a national designation (Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley) and now there are 14. Waldo was referring to evaluations by the Center for Public Safety Excellence that can lead to designations as chief fire officer, fire officer, chief training officer, and fire marshal.
Walso has worked for Kerley twice, once at K-25 and now at ORFD, and while the chief didn’t want him to leave, he also recognized it as an opportunity. Kerley has been supportive, Waldo said.
He said he’s excited but also nervous about the move to “Big Sky Country” with his wife and son.
“I feel like it’s my time,” Waldo said. “I’m ready for it. I think this is a great opportunity.”
He said the hiring process included interviews with three or four panels, a screening by a third-party firm, and an interview in Bozeman in April. The city manager there made the final decision, and Waldo agreed to take the job last week before going on vacation.
Copyright 2015 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.