Shauwn Howell has the skills to lead a modernized Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department into the future, Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. said Friday after announcing Howell's selection as fire chief.
Shauwn Howell has the skills to lead a modernized Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department into the future, Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. said Friday after announcing Howell’s selection as fire chief.
Redus said that modern firefighting is about more than fighting fires, it’s about emergency medical services, homeland security, community outreach, fire prevention and more.
“With the dynamics of the profession changing, I think Shauwn is well qualified to lead this department and to provide the type of services this community will be needing today and in the future,” Redus said.
In his 12 years working for the department, Howell, a Pine Bluff native and Dollarway graduate, has worked as a firefighter, engineer, lieutenant, training director and public information officer. Howell was appointed deputy fire chief in June 2010 and appointed interim fire chief after former Fire Chief Dannie Smith stepped down in May 2011.
“I want to continue to build on relationships with the community, business leaders, schools, everybody,” Howell said. “It’s going to be a team-work approach. That’s what it’s going to take. Fire services has changed, is changing, and we embrace those changes.”
Howell said he was appreciative of the opportunity to serve the community and thanked the members of the community who had shown him support.
“I’m going to continue to do my best to serve the citizens of Pine Bluff,” Howell said. “I’m a Pine Bluff native, this is home … and I plan on being here for a number of years to come.”
During Friday’s announcement, Howell was joined by his wife Trammell, daughter Carreba and sons Shauwn Jr. and William as District Court Judge John Kearney swore Howell into office. Trammell Howell pinned on her husband’s new rank.
Nine people applied for the position, according to the city Human Resources Department. Redus said the other top finalists were Scott Moore, a battalion chief with the department, and Kenneth W. Lay of Fishers, Ind. Redus said it was a combination of qualities that made Howell stand out above the rest, Redus said.
“It’s a combination of his education, his training, his executive development, his assertiveness in leading the department to take care of some things that we are working on at this particular point and time and his ability to not only relate to his department within his department, but to others outside of the department, which we think is very key with fire services and emergency services these days,” Redus said, also noting that Howell is certified as a National Registered Emergency Medical Technician.
Both Moore and Lay, according to their resumes, have more years of experience in fire services than Howell. Moore has worked for the Pine Bluff Fire Department for 27 years. Lay has 22 years fire services experience.
“We don’t base decisions on years with the department; we base decisions on accomplishments; we based the decision on leadership qualities; we based the decision on managerial skills; we based the decision on vision,” Redus said.
Howell has a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from the University of Central Arkansas and an associate’s degree in fire science from Southeast Arkansas College, according to his resume.
Moore has an associate’s degree in fire science from SEARK and was pursuing a bachelor of applied science degree in emergency management administration from Arkansas Tech University when he applied for the position in summer 2011.
Lay has a bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University, an associate degree in fire science from Lansing Community College and a master of business administration degree from Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., according to his resume.
The job description for the position describes the acceptable experience and training for the position as a: “bachelor’s degree in fire science and/or administration or any equivalent combination of training which provides the required knowledge, skills and abilities and 16-20 years of related experience and/or training or equivalent combination of education and experience and a minimum of 10 years management experience.”
Howell was promoted to engineer rank in 2005 and lieutenant in 2008. Moore has served in a rank of engineer or higher for 24 years.
Asked about whether Howell met the management experience aspect of the job description, Redus said, “He met it with the combination of education and years of experience in fire services.”
Howell was the first deputy chief to be selected under a new system proposed by former chief Smith and approved by the Pine Bluff City Council. The change permitted deputy chiefs to be chosen at the discretion of the fire chief, rather than going through the Civil Service Commission’s review and recommendation process. The Civil Service Commission has since been disbanded by the City Council. The fire chief is a direct appointee of the mayor, a power he was given by the City Council and a public referendum in 2006.
In the hiring process for Howell, the three Pine Bluff City Council Public Safety Committee members each individually interviewed Moore and Howell and provided their recommendations to the mayor. Committee members Irene Holcomb and Bill Brumett declined to comment on who they recommended. Alderman Wayne Easterly did not return a phone message requesting a comment.