There’s a new chief in town.
After a year-long search, Monday marked the first day for Larry Collins, Ann Arbor’s new fire chief. He will be officially sworn in at a ceremony on Friday.
Collins succeeds former Chief Chuck Hubbard, who retired in January of 2014 after serving as chief since 2011. Prior to that, Hubbard had been a firefighter in Ann Arbor for almost three decades. Ann Arbor Police Chief John Seto has overseen the fire department for the past year. Collins’ starting salary is set at $122,000 a year, an increase from the $104,549 he received at Brevard County Fire Rescue, his previous job.
Collins has experience serving at two other fire departments. He spent 30 years with the Dayton Fire Department in Ohio, retiring as its director and fire chief in 2008. Collins was also fire chief of the Brevard County Fire Rescue in Florida from 2009 until he departed in September.
Florida Today reported his leave, noting differences between Collins and his superior regarding how the fire department should operate.
“You can use the term fired, but really what it was an amicable separation on the part of both parties,” Collins said in an interview with The Michigan Daily.
Collins said that he had been hired under a progressive manager in Brevard, and the assistant manager who succeeded him did not believe in the direction that Collins was taking the fire department.
“I’m not saying he did a bad job,” Brevard County Manager Stockton Whitten told Florida Today last September. “It was just philosophical differences.”
In a November press conference, Seto expressed confidence in Collins’ selection. Collins has a master’s degree in operations management from the University of Arkansas, a bachelor’s degree in public safety management from Franklin University and an associate degree in fire-rescue administration from Sinclair Community College.
Collins said he plans to make Ann Arbor’s fire department more progressive, but has not been in the job long enough to pinpoint necessary changes.
“I will recommend changes that I think are appropriate for moving us forward, making us a top notch fire department in the state, perhaps in the midwest part of the country,” he said.
Ultimately, Collins said he is committed to keeping all Ann Arbor citizens safe. He added that the fire department makes no differentiation between students, citizens and elected officials.
“Our job is to provide good, basic fire and life safety protection to anybody and everybody in the community and folks that visit here as well,” he said.