Central Coventry Chooses New Interim Fire Chief
Andrew Baynes, a 36-year fire service veteran, is chosen to oversee CCFD.
As of August 12, the Central Coventry Fire District has a new interim fire chief in Andrew Baynes, a seasoned leader in the fire service industry. Baynes assumes the position after the departure of Robert Seltzer, who left the department on July 13 after 35 years of service to become Chief of the Smithfield Fire Department. Captain Dave Gorman had served as interim chief up until Baynes' arrival.
Baynes has extensive experience in the fire service. He began his career with the Warwick Fire Department on Feb. 1, 1972 after serving four years in the United States Coast Guard. During his 30-year tenure in Warwick, Baynes served on the city's engines, ladders and rescues as Firefighter, Rescue Lieutenant, Fire Lieutenant, Fire Captain, Special Hazards team member and Battalion Chief - the title that he retired with in 2002.
On January 2, 2007, Baynes suspended his retirement to accept the position of Fire Chief for the Johnston Fire Department, where he also served as a consultant to the city's Planning Board as well as Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director until he resigned in January 2011.
Baynes, a North Providence resident of 28 years, is also an adjunct professor at CCRI, teaching multiple courses within the Fire Science degree program.
He explained that he was interviewed by members of the CCFD Board of Directors on August 6 and was offered the position the next day.
"Captain Gorman did an admirable job during his time as interim chief and he has been a great help in the transition," said Baynes.
As Interim Fire Chief of Central Coventry, Baynes will take over the administrative duties of the district while overseeing a staff of 52 employees that provides fire suppression and prevention, hazardous materials mitigation, inspection services and emergency medical services to the community.
As of Tuesday morning, Baynes was nine days into a 16-day conceptual plan that he devised, which includes meeting with the town's other department heads, command staff and fire marshal, touring municipal buildings and facilities and familiarizing himself with the district's vehicles and apparatus.
With input from Capt. Gorman and board members, he has already begun to organize several financial aspects of the district, including moving much of its business to Centreville Bank, contacting the rescue billing company and scheduling meetings with insurance carriers to see where the district stands and if anything can be done to improve finances going forward.
In regards to his leadership style, Baynes is the no-nonsense type, believing that there is never enough time to drag your feet in the fire service industry.
"Just like in my prior positions, I'll have to make a lot of decisions that may look like they're off the cuff and done rapidly and they are because of the pressing need that I have," he said. "I usually analyze things reasonably fast and I'm pretty determinative as of the direction that I'm going to move in and if I have my mind made up, I will usually elicit in conversations the positives and negatives, then decide where I think we should go and why."
Taking into consideration the area and population sizes of the municipalities he has served prior to Coventry, Baynes says that the town's layout is quite common. He explained that in some regards, Coventry may be more daunting than other compact communities, as 26.6 square miles are covered by about 10 people at a time. However, from what he has seen so far, Baynes is confident that he has a very reliable staff whose members do their jobs well.
"A reasonably heavy responsibility is done very well and I am fortunate as the interim guy to have a very energized and young workforce," he said. "This is a very well-trained, well-disciplined group that is not afraid to take on any tasks and is cooperative in their approach to almost anything."
Currently, plans beyond Baynes as Interim Chief have not been discussed at length, allowing him to become comfortable and acclimated with his new position.
"Everyone has gone out of their way to make me feel welcome and the things that I've asked them to do so far they've done willingly and with a smile on their face," he said.