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March 16, 2011


Fire chief likely to leave

by Deena Winter

The paper says Fire Chief Niles Ford has been offered a job as a city manager in an Atlanta suburb, and I expect he’ll take it.

Niles Ford

Ford replaced former Fire Chief Mike Spadt — after several tumultuous years fraught with controversy over firetrucks that didn’t meet city specifications and clashes with Councilman Jon Camp. Ford stepped into a hot mess, but he handled it with self-deprecating, humble aplomb.

However, from the start, there were signs his family was not easily making the transition from its home in the South to Lincoln, Neb. I know his wife often visited relatives back home, where he has ailing relatives.

Just a year after Ford began working here, he applied for a job as fire chief in Austin, Texas, but didn’t get it. He also got caught up in a big controversy of his own in 2009, when the mayor and City Council began clashing over the cost of a minimum staffing provision that got inserted into the fire union contract.

Throughout the mess — during which I tried to sort out who made a $300,000 error — Ford remained silent, refusing to comment, being a good soldier for Beutler. I know he could have said a lot.

So I expect he’ll go (weirdly, if you go to the fire department website, it features a photo of assistant chief John Huff on the home page).

Ford seems to be a truly good person who had a monumental task when he took the job as fire chief here. I wish him well.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. CAS
    Mar 16 2011

    I see him at the South WalMart on occasion, and he always has been affable and approachable when ive talked to him. Its nice to see him there, knowing he puts is pants on each leg like everyone else.

  2. Roger Yant
    Mar 17 2011

    Yes he is a nice guy. But as was said back in 2007 if you hire from outside the department and bring in someone from elsewhere that person will be gone as soon as he can better himself, they will have no allegiance to Lincoln. You need to hire from with-in. That was me in the mayors race in 2007.
    I was relating what happened in the mid 70s when we needed a police chief and Dale Adams was in line for the job, but the then mayor Helen Bosallis (sp) said no and brought in George Hansen from I think Washington State and he left after two years. Why don’t we hire from with-in? It makes more sense, that person will most likely stay. I want to thank chief Ford for doing a good job while here in Lincoln, and good luck in your new job.

  3. Citizen
    Nov 1 2011

    This man is a good person to your face, but behind that is a whole different story. He stands for leadership and team building, but yet he never stands up for his peers, and had unjustly terminated many personel with out even looking into the situation as a whole. It is easy for the public to see him as a good person, which he might be off duty that has yet to be seen in the job. It is great to have seen him leave, but he left behind a situation that worries me about the brothers and sisters and their lives. It would be nice to see some day a chief that stands up for their brother and sisters instead of looking good for politics.


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