Germantown is promoting one of its assistant fire chiefs to the top position in the city.
Eric Grizzard, assistant chief of operations, was announced as the new fire chief on Wednesday, May 25, succeeding John Selberg, who is retiring from Germantown to become Collierville’s fire chief.
“He has really established himself as a leader in the fire department,” Selberg said. “He’s strong on the operations side but understands firefighters and knows how to support them to meet our goals. … Germantown will be in great hands.”
Grizzard’s new role is effective July 1. Selberg plans to work alongside him to help him acclimate to the role before transitioning to Collierville.
Before joining Germantown Fire Department in 2005, Grizzard spent time with Ambulance Services Inc., Horn Lake Emergency Medical Services and Southaven Fire Department. Prior to serving as assistant chief, he directed EMS training for all shifts and received a number of certifications as he developed knowledge of the job.
Gallatin Fire Chief Jeff Beaman, formerly Germantown’s assistant chief, was a lieutenant and Grizzard’s supervisor in 2005.
“You could tell from his demeanor and how he provided service – he had a path ahead of him. We just didn’t know what it was,” Beaman said.
Beaman said he consistently pushed Grizzard out of his comfort zone, but the newly appointed chief learned from those challenges. Beaman believes Grizzard will make sure GFD is adequately trained to meet the challenges facing the fire service in the 21st century.
One of Grizzard’s greatest strengths is his care for others, Beaman said.
“He has a high emotional IQ and very strong sense of empathy when dealing with others,” Beaman said. “He can quickly relate to someone.”
Grizzard has moved through the ranks in his 17 years with the Germantown department.
“I want to continue to uphold the tradition of excellence the department has established, and expand the department’s involvement in community outreach and risk reduction programs,” Grizzard said in a release. “This is the community’s fire department and serving the community with excellence, every call, will continue to be our focus.”
The suburb routinely focuses on succession planning, helping develop its staff into leaders ready to step up when higher position open.
“The internal candidates for the open position of Fire Chief were very strong,” Jason Huisman, city administrator, said in the release. “It gives me great comfort to know that our fire and EMS services are well positioned for continued success under an exemplary group of leaders.”
Grizzard is one of two assistant chiefs. The other is Keith Saunders, who oversees the administrative responsibilities. Following last year’s retirement of Beaman, the suburban department split the responsibilities and named two assistant chiefs.
Appointing the fire chief is an administrative role, making the decision Huisman’s duty. The city charter does not address the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s role in the process.
Collierville aldermen confirmed Mayor Stan Joyner’s nomination of Selberg last month. Selberg will follow Chief Buddy Billings, who is retiring this summer. Selberg has spent four decades in Germantown.