MADISON, Ala. - It's been more than a year since the City of Madison has had an active, full time, permanent Fire Chief. That ended Monday night.
Back in February 2016, former Madison Fire Chief Ralph Cobb was placed on administrative leave, and then ultimately retired in October, after being investigated for age discrimination.
Just weeks after Cobb's retirement, Police Chief Larry Muncey submitted his resignation after being found guilty of contempt of court for questioning his officers during the Eric Parker trial.
Monday night, thunderous applause greeted the new Fire Chief, David Bailey, in a city eager to turn the page on a dark chapter of history.
“I’m very excited to be here," said the newly installed chief.
Bailey fought fires in Virginia for ten years, before becoming fire chief of Harriman, a small town in East Tennessee.
This was his first day with a Madison patch on his shoulder.
“The government and the whole community just really spoke to myself and my family that this was the right place to raise our girls and my son," said Bailey, in an interview with WHNT News 19.
Bailey said, while he has big plans for the department, he's comforted to know, he's inheriting a strong team.
“I know we’ve got a lot of opportunities for improvement but overall I feel like we’re in a very good place right now," he said.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley echoed Chief Bailey's vision and optimism for the future.
"One his overall sense of 'strategery', especially when it came to working with the county and the sister communities and secondly his understanding of working with our individual firefighters for a plan for each one of them to be successful," said Finley.
While former Chief Cobb's seat has been filled, there's still a void at the top of the Madison Police Department, following Larry Muncey's departure.
“We had half of our interview last week for the down select, the other half will be this week. From there, we hope to bring council 3-5 strong candidates," says Finley.
After this week, Mayor Finley hopes to have the final interviews take place mid-May, a decision by the end of the month and another swearing-in ceremony the first of July.
Only then can he take a sigh of relief.
“Police and fire make up 200 of our 350 employees in the city of Madison. These are two desperate requirements for strong leadership but it’s also public safety which is critical in the minds of council and of mayor," said Mayor Finley
The City of Madison also announced Monday evening, they will be adding the position of Communication Specialist, that will help expand the city's efforts online and on social media.