The longtime chief of the Reedy Creek Fire Department serving Walt Disney World, Richard LePere, will retire in August this year. As such, the search is on for a new fire chief, according to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Administrator Glenton Gilzean Jr., today, announced a search for the next fire chief for the District. The search was announced two weeks after Chief LePere announced his retirement which will take effect in August.
“Our district is proud to be an international destination hosting millions of visitors each year,” said Administrator Glenton Gilzean, Jr.. “Promoting the safety of these visitors is a top priority of the district through exemplary emergency services including a robust and well-run fire department and strong partnerships with law enforcement. We strive for our district to be a world leader in public safety. With our unique challenges to the district, our firefighters deserve the best compensation possible that will make them competitive within the region while being fiscally responsible. Our firefighters volunteer to put their lives on the line to protect the public and they deserve nothing less than the best leadership we can find.”
The nationwide search will seek a leader for the fire department with a strong track record of leadership in running a department that successfully implements industry-leading fire management techniques. Candidates should also have a history of caring for the valuable resource that is the firefighters themselves.
Earlier this month, Chief LePere announced his retirement as fire chief after a decade in that role. He previously served the Reedy Creek Fire Department as a firefighter for 13 years. During his tenure, he modernized the fire department.
“Our home in the district truly presents unique challenges in fire prevention and emergency services,” said Administrator Gilzean. “Chief LePere has risen to the challenge to build a fire department that can address our unique situation. Our community is grateful to him for his service and leadership.”
Candidates interested in applying to be the Fire Chief can apply by emailing their application to DISTRICTCLERK@RCID.org.
Reedy Creek Fire Department
Firefighters and first responders as part of the Reedy Creek Fire Department, which covers Walt Disney World, approved a new contract last month after years of negotiation.
Reedy Creek Fire Department first responders expressed alarm last spring in the wake of Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, stating their lifetime Disney passes and lifelong health insurance were at risk as a result. Union leadership has been in regular dialogue with Gov. DeSantis since, expressing they’re reassured by the governor’s track record with first responders.
Tim Stromsnes, communications director of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117 union, told the Orlando Sentinel earlier this year in the face of the CFTOD takeover “Anything has got to be better than what we currently have. We really hope that this new board will bring the morale up for Reedy Creek [and] will make us an elite emergency services department again. We’ve got our faith in the governor that we’re going to be around and that it’s going to be a better place to work.”
The union has had a rather rocky relationship with Disney, who appointed all five seats on the district’s Board of Supervisors. Their focus is largely on the theme park business and union members allege the Board cares little for actual employees of the District, which includes first responders like firefighters. Fire trucks and rescue units have broken down on multiple occasions, forcing responders to arrive on the scene in SUVs. Staffing has also remained inadequately low. Disney and Reedy Creek have both aggressively denied these claims.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 9B, which enacted the state takeover of the district, at the Reedy Creek Fire Department in February.