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Mike Tucker in an image from from E-One, the Ocala manufacturer, in a tweet.
Mike Tucker, the superintendent at Florida State Fire College and a former state Firefighter of the Year, is in the running to be the county’s next fire chief. County Administrator Jerry Cameron is working toward filling the post almost a year after Don Petito was edged out of the position in a negotiated settlement after 15 years on the job. Joe King had been acting fire chief since.
Cameron is wrapping up what has officially been an interim tenure at the county. He told county commissioners in February that he was planning to leave by the end of June, and has told colleagues that he’s been eager to finish his work at the county. He recently reiterated to colleagues his intention to leave at the end of June, though he’s also now being discussed as an interim manager in Palm Coast in the wake of Matt Morton’s resignation there.
The county’s hiring committee consisted of Heidi Petito and Jorge Salinas, the chiefs of staff, along with Pamela Wu, the human resources director, and Jarrod Shupe, the IT director. Tucker has already been interviewed and is being called back for another interview next week with the administrator as what appears to be a very short shortlist.
Tucker, 53, has principally been superintendent at Florida State Fire College for the past five years. He’d maintained roles either as a consultant for the Oregon-based International Association of Fire Chiefs or as an adjunct instructor at Lake Sumpter State College, where he taught for eight years. He was the fire chief at The Villages, the arch-conservative 55-plus community of over 130,000 people in northeast Sumter County. Tucker saw that fire department grow to seven fire stations, a staff of over 100 and with 101 staff responding to more than 15,000 calls.
The fire college, a division of the state fire marshal’s office, oversees and improves state standards in firefighting. The superintendent in part ensures that all state-certified training centers are in compliance with those standards.