Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Controversial Fire Chief Rumored to be Taking Job as City of Newburgh Fire Commissioner

The embattled City of Newburgh government is reportedly hiring a new fire commissioner who has been the subject of previous controversy, The Newburgh News has learned.

Bob Lonsberry, a talk show host from WHAM radio and WSYR radio in western New York, reported that Rochester Fire Chief Teresa Everett has “apparently” accepted a job in the City of Newburgh Fire Department and is likely to fill the role of the newly created Fire Commissioner position.

Everett reportedly has no experience as an interior firefighter, but has bounced around the nation filling fire administration posts for a few years at a time. The Newburgh City Council has repeatedly promised the public that they would hire somebody with actual firefighting experience.

The City of Newburgh created a new Fire Commissioner position when they quietly slid it into their budget last November. Elected officials have not widely discussed it publicly until recent meetings to alter the City Charter to accommodate the new post. The newly created Fire Commissioner will oversee the existing Fire Chief.

The Newburgh City Council has repeatedly rejected demands from the public to reallocate the money to reopen a closed engine company and better staff the fire department before hiring someone for a new administrative position. The Newburgh Fire Department covers the entire city with a mere four interior firefighters, plus two apparatus operators and one incident commander who perform other necessary tasks.

A union member from the Newburgh IAFF Local 589 nearly became a victim to the City Council’s ongoing censorship controversy (see a listing of the stories here) when he complained at a public meeting that filling the new Fire Commissioner post is not as important as having more firefighters on duty. Mayor Torrance Harvey attempted to censor the Newburgh’s Bravest member, but the union member respectfully stood up to the mayor and made his voice heard (see the video below).

Everett is a graduate of the Washingtonville High School. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Public Administration.

According to Everett’s own Linkedin profile, she had no experience as an actual firefighter before advancing to the role of Fire Chief. Her fire career consists of 13 years of service bouncing through various fire chief roles across the country.

Everett first began her fire department career by serving as the Fire Chief in College Park, Georgia. She started the job in October 2010 and left the job in February 2012, just 17 months later.

In March 2012, Everett began serving as the Fire Chief in Gary, Indiana. She performed that job for just over three years before leaving it in May 2015 for a lower ranking position out-of-town. At the time, City of Gary officials reported that Everett “retired” after serving three years.

According to the Northwest Indiana Gazette, Everett was “controversial since her appointment to the position.” City of Gary firefighters reportedly believed Everett had ties to their mayor which “weighed more in her appointment than her qualifications.” Everett and the mayor were both reportedly members of the same sorority.

According to CBS Chicago, the Gary Civil Service Commission received 24 cases filed against Everett in approximately two years. One notable case involved Everett transferring more than one division chief and replacing them with lower ranking workers, according to a Civil Service Commissioner at the time. All positions within the Gary Fire Department, except Everett’s, were obtained by taking civil service tests.

In 2015, Everett next took a job as an Assistant Chief in Baltimore, Maryland, where she worked just short of four years. She ended that role in March 2019.

She then took a job as a Deputy Fire Chief in Rochester, New York. She has fulfilled various roles in the Rochester Fire Department since then, serving as a Deputy Fire Chief, Executive Deputy Chief of Administration, and Interim Fire Chief.

At the time of her appointment in Rochester, the public commented with skepticism.

“Problem is, she has never been either a line firefighter or a line officer,” Lonsberry observed at the time.

Twitter user Rip Murdock said it was “so sad and unfair for others who have the experience and served their time.”

Another Twitter user, PackEngineer32907, wrote at the time, “I have a great idea!!! Send her to through the same training as line firefighters go through. If she survives, then they can name her chief. Otherwise, putting her in charge of line firefighter is a danger to their health the morale of the entire RFD.”

Twitter user Krisianne74 questioned, “How can someone who has no experience as a line firefighter or officer be in charge of those who are on the line??”

Word of Everett’s alleged departure from Rochester for a job in Newburgh was met with happiness for some in the Rochester area.

“Great news for Rochester but terrible news for the firefighters and residents of Newburgh,” stated James Mall.

Lonsberry called it an “answer to prayer[s].”

Twitter user Steve W. wrote, “Is that where we are now, Newburgh is an upgrade over Rochester?”

Monroe County, NY Firewatcher warned, “Have fun with a Commissioner who won’t know what to do in any large scenario. Good luck, Newburgh.”

City of Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey attempts to censor a Local 589 member during the public comments of a recent City Council meeting.

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  1. Controversies run further back than 2010 gang. She made the rounds down here in Miami working as directer of training at Miami Dade Fire academy (1990) while not a Firefighter snd then had many issues assigned to Broward County advisory boards after that.

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