Four Finalists for Madison (WI) Fire Chief


Emilie Hammer

The Wisconsin State Newspaper


Feb. 19—Four candidates have been selected as finalists for the position of Madison fire chief, the city’s Police and Fire Commission announced Friday.

All nominees are Madison residents who have served in the Madison Fire Department in some capacity. Three are men and one is a woman of color.

The four finalists are: Scott Bavery, Tracy Burrus, Chris Carbon and Ted Higgins.

Their selection comes after a three-month search and interview process, the first national search for the position since 1996. Although the search is national, all applicants have strong ties to Madison.

Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis announced in October that he would retire on April 1, ending a career spanning more than three decades with the Madison Fire Department. The position of fire chief was posted in mid-November with an application deadline of December 15.

Many candidates have similar credentials to Davis, who served as a firefighter, paramedic, training officer, lieutenant and division chief before being named fire chief in 2012.

Bavery is a Madison native and current deputy fire chief for the department. In its announcement of the finalists, the commission describes Bavery as having “a reputation as a challenge-driven, transformational leader.”

Burrus moved to Madison in 2001 and has held a variety of positions within the department, including deputy chief of staff, division chief of training, fire lieutenant, training officer, firefighter, paramedic, and apparatus engineer. She is also a US Army veteran.

Burrus began his firefighting career in 1995 in Macomb, Illinois. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Western Illinois University.

Carbon, who describes himself as a “lifetime Madisonian,” has worked in the fire department since 1999 in roles including firefighter, paramedic, lieutenant and training officer. He is currently the division chief overseeing training and logistics for emergency medical services and has been “heavily involved” in community paramedicine, the commission said. He graduated from UW-Madison with a Bachelor of Science.

Higgins is a Madison resident and a 19-year fire department veteran. He is currently a lieutenant and senior officer with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 311, a union where he has partnered with other fire and EMS agencies in Dane County.

Higgins earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and also graduated from a paramedic program at Malcolm X College in Chicago.

Beyond the credentials, the four finalists will share their vision for being Madison’s next fire chief in video presentations to be released in early March.

The Police and Fire Commission plans to conduct final interviews on March 8. This process will include applicants recording a 15-minute “community presentation” video, which will be released to residents after interviews.

The public is invited to comment on the finalists during the commission meeting on March 14 or send comments by email to [email protected]

The commission plans to deliberate in special meetings from March 11-18 and has previously said it will announce its choice on March 18.


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