Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk has selected retired Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker to be the next head of the Austin Fire Department, replacing former Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, who retired this summer.
Baker was selected from a pool of 84 candidates, who included finalists Laredo Fire Chief Steve Landin and Fire Chief Kevin McGee of Prince William County, Va. Baker retired as the Atlanta Fire Department’s chief in February after rising through the ranks there for 30 years.
“Austin is a fantastic city, and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my career in Texas,” Baker said in a statement Friday. “I am excited and proud to begin leading the more than 1,000 members of the Austin Fire Department who work each day to keep the community safe.”
The Austin City Council will consider Baker’s confirmation Nov. 15. Pending confirmation, he will start Dec. 10. Interim Fire Chief Tom Dodds will continue to lead the department until then.
If confirmed, Baker will oversee 1,151 sworn firefighters, 106 civilian staffers and an annual operating budget of almost $200 million.