Black Mountain hires new fire chief

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
Scottie Harris will take over the as the chief of the Black Mountain Fire Department on May 9.

The search for a new Black Mountain fire chief has ended.

Five months after the retirement of longtime chief Steve Jones, town manager Josh Harrold announced that Scottie Harris would step into the role.

“He’s got over 20 years of experience in fire and emergency services,” Harrold said of Harris, who has worked for the City of Raleigh and Cumberland County, among other municipalities, in the past. “He currently works as a fire service contractor in Kuwait, where he works to set up fire departments from the ground up.”

Harrold launched the search in November and conducted a series of interviews.

“I didn’t feel like we found the right person in our first round of interviews, so we posted the position a second time,” he said. “We were looking for someone with a team-oriented approach and strong leadership skills.”

Experience was also important to Harrold, who was hired as town manager in October of 2018.

“With me being new to my role, I wanted to find someone who brought something that maybe we hadn’t had in the past,” he said.

The first round of the search brought in around 20 responses, according to Harrold, and the second round attracted 25 additional applicants.

Harrold sorted through the resumes and interviewed five candidates from the second round. Harris stood out to the manager.

“By the time the interview was over I felt like I would’ve been ready to go work for him that day,” he said. “He had an inspirational way of presenting himself and he’d done a lot of research about Black Mountain. He even attended an aldermen meeting the week before his interview.”

That level of preparation impressed Harrold.

“It showed that he had a really high level of interest in the job and community,” he continued. “It showed a lot of character and work ethic on his part.”

The department has continued to run smoothly under the guidance of Deputy Chief John Wilson, Harrold said, so he doesn’t expect any major changes when Harris steps in.

“One thing I’d like to see him focus on, which is something I like to see everyone focus on, is seeking any kind of grant funding we can receive,” he said. “Just anything that could help us acquire gear or equipment or anything like that.”

There is also funding set aside for renovations to the living quarters in the department.

“He’ll do some analyses of day-to-day operations and make sure everything is functioning efficiently,” Harrold said.

Harris will start in the role on May 9.