City of Arlington Announces Five Finalists for Fire Chief; Residents Invited to Ask Candidates Questions During June 7 Community Forum
By Office of Communications
Posted on June 02, 2023, June 02, 2023

Arlington Fire Department

The City of Arlington has named five finalists in its search for a new fire chief and director of emergency management.

Arlington launched its national search for a fire chief earlier this year when Fire Chief Don Crowson announced his May 31 retirement after a 40-year career. The City, which received applications from nearly 50 public safety professionals from across the country, narrowed the pool of candidates to 12 in May, conducted another round of interviews and analysis, and then invited six candidates to participate in the semi-final round this month.

The five finalists for the Arlington fire chief are Jack H. Andrade of the Kansas City Fire Department, Alvin D. Benson of the Shelby County Fire Department in Memphis, Richard L. Davis Jr. of the Austin Fire Department, Robert Fite of the Grand Prairie Fire Department and R. Bret Stidham of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department. A sixth finalist withdrew from consideration.

Candidates will engage in a series of in-person panel interviews, which will include members of the City’s executive leadership team, Arlington Professional Fire Fighters Association representatives, and diverse groups of community leaders. They will also participate in an evening community forum on Wednesday, June 7, which will allow for the candidates to respond to questions submitted by members of the community. The City expects to announce its new fire chief in the coming weeks.

Community Forum

The community forum will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 7 at Esports Stadium Arlington & Expo Center, 1200 Ballpark Way. The forum will not be broadcast or recorded.

Questions for the candidates can be submitted during the event only through a QR code that will be provided to attendees.

More About the Finalists (alphabetic order by last name)

Jack H. Andrade: Andrade has a 25-year career in public safety, including 19 years of service with the Kansas City Fire Department. There, he is a 1st deputy fire chief who is also currently serving as the acting fire chief. Andrade holds a Bachelor of Science in conservation enforcement from Central Missouri State University and a Master of Science in occupational safety management/fire service from University of Central Missouri.

Alvin D. Benson: Benson has more than 14 years of experience as a fire chief of two departments. He has served as administrator/chief of fire for the Shelby County Fire Department in Memphis since 2014 and was fire chief of the Memphis Fire Department from 2008 to 2014. Benson holds a Bachelor of Professional Studies in fire administration and fire prevention technology from the University of Memphis and a Master of Business Administration from Webster University.

Richard L. Davis Jr.: Davis has 30 years of service with the Austin Fire Department, where he has served as assistant fire chief since 2009. Davis served in the U.S. Air Force from 1983 to 1991 and has served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves since 2005. He holds an Associate of Science in logistics management from the Community College of the Air Force-Maxwell AFB, a Bachelor of Science in marketing and management from Park University, a Master of Science in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He also graduated from the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy.

Robert Fite: Fite has nearly 11 years of service with the Grand Prairie Fire Department, where he is currently the fire chief. His 35-year career in public safety also includes serving as fire chief and emergency management coordinator for the Georgetown Fire Department. In addition to graduating as an executive fire officer from the National Fire Academy, Fite holds a Bachelor of Arts in fire administration from Western Illinois University and a Master of Arts in human resource management from Midwestern State University.

R. Bret Stidham: Stidham has been a professional firefighter with Dallas Fire-Rescue for more than 29 years. He has served as executive assistant chief/chief of staff there since 2019 and was assistant fire chief of emergency operations and special operations for two years prior. In addition to graduating as a rescue specialist from Texas A&M University, Stidham holds an Associate of Applied Science in fire administration from Weatherford College, a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in fire administration from Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas.

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