Forest Park makes interim fire chief permanent

By Billy Corriher and Ed Brock

The Forest Park City Council installed interim Fire Chief Eddie Buckholts as head of the city's fire department at its meeting on Monday.

Mayor Chuck Hall said Buckholts was selected through a three-step process that all applicants went through.

"(Buckholts) was the most qualified candidate from that process," he said.

Hall said he approved of installing Buckholts as the permanent chief.

"I think he's done a fine job," he said.

Buckholts' routine won't change much since he has been acting chief for so long, but he said the permanent appointment would help.

"I'm truly glad they're giving me an opportunity to continue what I've been doing for the past year and four months," Buckholts said. "I'm looking forward to making it a career."

There are very few changes he has planned, Buckholts said, but he does have two major goals. One goal is lowering the city's Insurance Services Office rating from ISO3 to ISO2. Lower ISO ratings are a better ranking for fire departments.

"That will benefit all the businesses and citizens in the city by lowering insurance premiums," Buckholts said.

His second goal is obtaining international accreditation from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

That process can take years and is a matter of meeting certain standards set by the IAFC for sustained period of time. But Buckholts said he thinks his department already meets some of those standards.

"It'll just be a matter of fine tuning some of the things we've been doing and going in depth on our standard procedures," Buckholts said.

Buckholts lives in Henry County but grew up in Forest Park. He has been with the Forest Park Fire Department for 13 years and before that he was with the Stockbridge Volunteer Fire Department for 14 years.

Forest Park fire Maj. Paul Beamon, who was also a candidate for chief, said he was "looking forward to a bright future" with Buckholts as chief.