Jerome Yarbrough, interim Gainesville fire chief, said it feels good to be the sole finalist for the top job.
Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett announced Monday that Yarbrough is the only candidate left out of 49 applicants for the position. The hiring decision, which is Padgett’s, is expected to be announced in two weeks. Yarbrough was made interim fire chief in October.
“It’s a goal I set for myself a long time ago,” he said.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said he thinks Yarbrough would do a good job in the position. Yarbrough has worked at the city fire department for 28 years in various positions, including fire and arson investigator, fire marshal and deputy fire chief. He also has a Peace Officer’s Standards and Training Council certification as a police officer.
Dunagan said he knows the ins and outs of the department.
“I have full confidence that he’ll do a fine job,” Dunagan said.
Councilman George Wangemann said council members met with Yarbrough last week after Padgett had selected him as the finalist. Wangemann complimented the candidate, saying he is easy to work with and likable. Being able to promote from within is always a good thing, the councilman said.
“It would be well-deserved in my estimation,” Wangemann said, adding the caveat that the final decision has not been made.
Yarbrough said he’s seen the role of firefighter evolve through the years, especially after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Currently, firefighters are often called to situations other than just fires, including medical emergencies.
“Firefighters are the domestic soldiers of this society,” he said.
Yarbrough is a Gainesville High School graduate and attended Lanier Technical College. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs, Safe Kids and the City of Gainesville Retirement Board.
He also served in the U.S. Army for 24 years with six years of active duty and 18 years in the Army Reserve as a staff sergeant. He is a member of the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs, Georgia State Firefighters Association, National Fire Protection Association and the International Fire Marshals Association.
Yarbrough took over when then-Chief Jon Canada announced his retirement. A 20-year veteran, Canada’s retirement went into effect less than two weeks after he made the announcement.