Maumelle’s new fire chief wants to assure Maumelle residents that the Maumelle Fire department will maintain its high level of training and readiness regardless of who sits in the chief’s position.

Interim Chief John Payne said the same people who have been supplying the city with excellent quality fire protection and emergency medical treatment will be in those same jobs so the transition in leadership should not be noticeable to the residents.

Mayor Mike Watson named Payne to be interim chief upon the retirement and early departure of former Chief George Glenn who accepted a position of leadership at Texas A&M in their Homeland Security office and actually started work there this week by utilizing his accrued leave and vacation time to bump up his Dec. 31 retirement by about a month.

Payne said city officials expect it will take about six months to fill the chief’s position. A regional search will be advertised starting the first week in January.

Payne comes into the position with a similar but different background in training as did Glenn. He was a central Arkansas trainer for the Arkansas Fire Academy, Payne said.

Citizens of Maumelle can be assured that the level of fire protection will be just as good as they’ve had up until this point, Glenn said. He said he’ll do his role as interim to try and improve the quality of training the firefighters receive and to maintain their high level of expertise in the firefighting and life saving skills.

He has been assistant chief since he arrived on the fire force and also served as fire marshal.

Payne said that Mayor Watson has signed off on a plan to name one of the current fire captains as interim assistant chief and fire marshal but details haven’t been worked out yet and no selections have been made.

At age 59, Payne said he’s spent most of his life as a firefighter and he hasn’t made a decision yet whether he might seek the chief’s position when its advertised or not.

Although he and his wife live in Oppelo at the base of Petit Jean Mountain, Payne said that won’t cause any conflicts with his role as interim chief. He said when necessary and sometimes as a precaution, he’ll stay in the department’s living quarters to be here to deal with issues that might arise like the upcoming winter weather predicted.

Plans for the new fire station near the Kroger grocery store will continue as a part of the city’s upcoming budget process, Payne said.