Denison is restoring the position of battalion chief to the fire department after a two-year hiatus.
The Denison City Council voted to reinstate the previously nixed position of battalion chief Monday evening. The job, which is a training position, will be filled by Roger Virgin, a 14-year veteran of the department.
Denison Fire Rescue Chief Gregg Loyd said it was a position that was eliminated in 2016 at a time when the department was undergoing an increase in computer-based online training. He said the needs of the department have changed since then, with a number of special units requiring additional training.
“We increased our certifications by some 65 commission certifications,” Loyd said. “Those require maintenance. We need to start putting some more time into special operations. All of those disciplines need coordination with continuing training to maintain those certifications.”
Loyd said Virgin facilitated the department through the process of becoming a certified training facility through the Texas Commission of Fire Protection.
“Now that we have that (certification) we need to create a curriculum,” Loyd said. “That is a pretty daunting task. We’re going to need the help of an actual designated training officer to do that.”
Loyd said the creation of the position will trigger three internal promotions that will ultimately result in the hiring of one new entry-level firefighter. Virgin is currently a captain, so an engineer will be promoted to that rank and a firefighter will be promoted to fill the engineer position.
Loyd said the promotions and new hire will cost the city en estimated $53,919. Denison Mayor Janet Gott asked whether the funds for the new hire and promotions were allocated in the current fiscal year’s budget.
Denison City Manager Jud Rex said it was not, but it would be requested in next year’s budget.
Loyd told the council it was the right time to bring the position back. He said it was the same rank as the position the department abandoned in 2016 and the list of candidates was about to expire.
“He has been placed in the role temporarily,” Loyd said of Virgin. “He has done an extraordinary job in that position.”
Richard A. Todd, the Herald Democrat’s Denison-area reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.