Sievers hopes to help the fire department become more cost-effective and bring back traditions.
Ormond Beach's new fire chief fell in love with the city long before he was hired.
Richard Sievers, known as "Rusty" in the Florida firefighting community thanks to his first superior, has had his eye on Ormond since a friend his was reassigned to the local fire department four years ago. As both of their families are very close, Sievers would come up and visit every now and then. He thought Ormond Beach would be the perfect place to move to after he retired from the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
That plan changed when Ormond Beach began looking for a new fire chief.
“This just kind of came a little bit early," Sievers said.
Sievers comes to Ormond with with almost 40 years of experience, having started working the city of Lauderhill in 1979 at 19 years old. He worked his way up the ladder through the assistant fire chief position before he retired in 1999 and joined the Lauderdale Lakes Fire Rescue Department as its new fire chief. Following that, he served as the fire chief for the Broward Sheriff's Office, moving from being in charge of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport, to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, to Cooper City and finally Deerfield Beach.
Those experiences have all led him to Ormond Beach. He said he'll always treasure the departments that helped him acquire the knowledge he now carries with him.
Bringing ideas to the table
Coming from a large department of 750 people and a $27 million budget, Ormond Beach is definitely a change of pace, but Sievers said he's no stranger to coming into a new city and learning. His goal after finding out how each department currently operates is to make recommendations as to how run things smarter, easier and more cost-effective.
Having worked in cities with a large variety of budgets in his 40 years of service, he said he comes with ideas of how to fund capital projects and repairs, such as taking advantage of leasing programs for new costly equipment. That allows the city to also be up to date with the newest technology, he said.
Sievers is also hoping to build more of the fire department traditions back into the department, like holding retirement ceremonies and starting an honor guard.
Though he's only just started working here, Sievers is aware of the ongoing EMS and ambulance concerns in the county. Right off the bat, he noticed that one change that could be made to remedy the issue is to separate units into emergency and non-emergency designations.
Making Ormond Beach home
Before former Ormond Beach Fire Chief Bob Mandarino informed him of his retirement and job opening — which he encouraged Sievers to apply for — Sievers planned on putting in five more years of work at Broward before retiring.
But getting the job here was "the cherry on a cake" for him, he said.
“This was the place I wanted to live in — the place I wanted to retire at some point," Sievers said, laughing, though he clarified he is definitely not ready to retire yet, especially with two daughters on the cusp of entering Florida State University.
Now, he has a chance to assimilate and become part of the community he's loved from afar.