Paris City Council affirms Larry Wright as city's new fire chief
By CHARLES RICHARDS
He will replace Ronnie Grooms, who retired several weeks ago as Paris fire chief after more than 30 years with the department.
The city manager is empowered to hire and fire department heads, but new appointments must be ratified by the city council.
“I very strongly recommend to you Larry Wright as our next fire chief,” city manager John Godwin said during a special meeting Tuesday night of the Paris City Council.
The council quickly added its unanimous consent. He is expected to begin work in Paris shortly.
Wright has already made several trips to Paris with his wife, has visited the different fire stations, and has met many of the fire personnel, Godwin said.
Godwin originally planned on seeking affirmation from the council a week ago, but pulled the item off the agenda to give any others a week to apply for the position. The open window for applications was from Nov. 6-13.
“We did not do a big, huge, comprehensive search for a new fire chief. That’s not to suggest it isn’t a very important position. In fact, it’s an extremely important position,” Godwin said.
“My preference, when practical or when possible or when it makes the most sense is to look internally, especially in police and fire. I think continuity is extremely important,” the manager said.
But at the present time, Godwin said, he feels it’s best “to bring in new blood.”
In mid-October, Godwin offered up Wright’s name as his choice as the new fire chief.
He said then, as he did Tuesday night, that the Paris Fire Department has several people worthy of consideration for fire chief, including “four good deputy chiefs.”
“But right now in the history of the fire department, that’s probably not the best opportunity for us, in trying to correct high turnover and low morale,” Godwin said. “It’s my goal to be the best fire department in Northeast Texas. I don’t want to have just a good fire department or an OK fire department. I want these people to be happy and productive. I want them to love their jobs.,”
Wright was a city councilman in Cedar Hill from 1986 to 1990.
Wright spent 20 years with the Town of Addison fire department, where he was a firefighter-paramedic and rose through the ranks to deputy chief of operations.
He went to Rowell in 1999 as fire chief and was credited with instituting major programs and professionalizing a department that is now recognized as one of the premier fire departments in Dallas County. Wright oversaw a department with four fire stations and 69 firefighters.
In 2008, Wright left Rowlett to become fire chief at Marble Falls, near his Central Texas ranch.
Godwin was an assistant city manager at Rowlett before becoming city manager at the Collin County community of Fairview, coaxed Wright out of retirement.
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