Mayor Appoints Directors for Office of Economic Development and Fire & Rescue Department
Mayor Lenny Curry today announced key appointments to the Office of Economic Development (OED) and the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department (JFRD).
Kirk Wendland, current Director of Business Development at the architecture, engineering and construction firm Stellar, will serve as the director of OED. Wendland has more than 28 years in the Jacksonville market, with previous experience as president of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission and director of finance and administration for the Downtown Development Authority.
Kurtis Wilson, an 18-year veteran of JFRD, was appointed as Director and Fire Chief. Wilson is currently the captain of Marine Unit 39 and has previously served as division chief of Operations, Fire Prevention and Administrative Services.
“Kirk Wendland and Kurtis Wilson will bring abundant experience and expertise to these important roles, furthering our ability to provide the finest service to the people of Jacksonville,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “Kirk’s experience at the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce and the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission will serve our city well as we work to bring more opportunity here to our city. Kurtis’ years of experience at JFRD will greatly enhance public safety throughout the community.”
The mayor also announced the appointments of four division chiefs for JFRD. Gerald Powers will lead the Fire Operations Division, David Castleman will lead the Rescue Division, Derrick Brinson will head the Fire Prevention Division, and Gail Loput will serve as the division chief of Training. Steven Woodard was previously nominated for reappointment as the director of the Emergency Preparedness Division.
All of today’s appointments are subject to City Council approval.
About Kirk Wendland:
Wendland was appointed as Director of the Office of Economic Development. Wendland has proven leadership skills and more than 28 years of experience in the Jacksonville market. He is currently the director of Business Development at Stellar, and has previously served as the president of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, director of Finance for the City of Atlantic Beach, and director of Finance and Administration for the Downtown Development Authority.
The Office of Economic Development is the economic development agency for the City of Jacksonville.
Wendland’s salary will be $150,000.
Note: All JFRD salaries are to be determined
About Kurtis Wilson:
Wilson grew up in Gainesville, Fla. and launched his fire service career with the City of Fernandina Beach’s Fire and Rescue Department. His JFRD career began in 1994 at Station 50 on Beach Boulevard near Kernan Boulevard. Chief Wilson is a state-licensed paramedic who holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Flagler College and an associate’s degree in Fire Science from Florida State College at Jacksonville.
In his field duty days, he served as the captain of Tower Ladder 21, which runs out of Fire Station 21 on Jacksonville’s Southside – one of two JFRD Hazardous Material (HazMat) stations. In addition to responding to emergencies, he managed and trained three dozen firefighters who were members of JFRD’s HazMat team at Station 21. He also consulted with numerous equipment vendors, purchased specialized equipment for JFRD, managed federally-funded equipment, and planned budgets for a variety of grants through Department of Homeland Security.
Wilson joined JFRD’s executive team in January 2011, when then Mayor John Peyton appointed him as chief of Administrative Services. JFRD’s Administrative Services Division involves maintenance of the department’s 58 fire stations and its fleet of 300-plus emergency response vehicles. Wilson also directed a staff responsible for purchasing everything from paper clips to multi-ton fire engines, rescue units, and other vehicles.
In 2012, Wilson was appointed to the Fire Prevention Division. While managing the Prevention Division, he implemented a reorganization that increased the division’s capacity to meet the stringent ISO requirements throughout the division. He also restored the division’s community outreach and public education function.
Appointed to chief of the Operations Division in July 2013, Wilson commanded the largest function within the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. He directed more than 900 personnel who staffed the department’s fire suppression apparatus, Hazardous Materials Team, Special Operations Team, and the Marine Division.
Now appointed by Mayor Lenny Curry as the new Director and Fire Chief for JFRD, Kurtis Wilson will lead one of the largest and most progressive fire rescue departments in the nation and will continue to ensure the highest standards of public safety are met.
About Gerald Powers:
Powers was born and raised in Jacksonville. He started his fire service career with the Nassau County Fire Rescue department in 1994.
He realized his dream and became a member of JFRD in 1996 and was assigned to Fire Station 17, located in Woodstock Park. Between 1999 and 2006, Powers was promoted through the ranks of engineer, lieutenant and captain, while being assigned to various stations located on the city’s Westside. Powers was deployed across the state on several large forest fires during the 1998 fire season and deployed with the Urban Search and Rescue Team during Hurricane Katrina. During his time in the field, Captain Powers received five departmental awards for his actions on calls.
Captain Powers joined the administrative team in 2013 when he was chosen to manage JFRD’s Tactical Support Facility. In that role, Powers was responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the 300-plus emergency vehicles assigned to the fire department. Those vehicles include pumpers, ladders, tankers, rescues, marine units, and light cars and trucks. In February 2015 he was assigned the additional duties of overseeing construction projects and the maintenance of JFRD’s 58 fire stations.
Recently appointed by Mayor Lenny Curry as the division chief of Fire Operations for JFRD, Powers will oversee the department’s largest division. His responsibilities include managing more than 900 fire suppression personnel assigned to the Operations Division and Administrative Services Division. He is charged with improving the city’s fire protection classification, which affects all homeowners and commercial insurance policies, implementing new national best practices and standards, and continuing to ensure the delivery of the highest level of service our customers have to come to expect from JFRD.
About David Castleman:
Castleman is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, although his fire service career began in 1994 in nearby Orange Park Fire & Rescue Department. In 2000, Castleman departed Orange Park to advance his professional career with the JFRD. Castleman has been a Florida-certified paramedic for 21 years. During that span, he also worked as a critical care flight paramedic for TraumaOne Flight Service at Shands Hospital of Jacksonville, North Florida’s only Level I Trauma Center. Castleman earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Fire Science Administration from Waldorf College in 2013 (Summa Cum Laude) and recently completed his graduate studies with academic honors at Anna Maria College to earn a Master of Public Administration.
Castleman progressed through the officer ranks of the JFRD relatively quickly. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2007, captain in 2009, and district chief in 2013, where he was certified as the top candidate on the District Chief – Rescue Promotional Exam. As a district chief, he directly supervised over 25 percent of the personnel assigned to the rescue division; he acted as a liaison between hospital emergency departments, administrative staff, and rescue personnel; and he routinely performed command staff functions at major incidents throughout the city.
Early in his career, Castleman had the opportunity to serve in some unique roles with JFRD. In 2004, he was appointed to a regional disaster strike team for Hurricane Ivan relief efforts in Panama City Beach and Navarre Beach, FL. In 2009 and 2011, he was one of three captains appointed to the EMS SOG Revision Committee. In 2010, Castleman travelled to Charleston, SC to assist with the design/spec of Mass Casualty Incident Response trailers that were purchased through FEMA and DHS grants for JFRD and surrounding regions.
With his appointment as the division chief of Rescue, Castleman has reached a professional milestone in his fire service career. As division chief, he will lead a fleet of 41 ALS rescue units staffed by nearly 300 uniformed personnel that serve a response area of over 840 square miles, the largest metropolitan area in the United States. With nearly 87 percent of all JFRD calls for service being medical-related, the Rescue Division will continue to play an extremely vital role in achieving the JFRD mission, whose foundation is firmly planted in a commitment to professionalism and a passion for excellence by all JFRD personnel.
About Derrick Brinson:
Brinson is a native of Jacksonville who embarked upon a career with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department in 1991 at Station 22 on Jammes Road. Chief Brinson is a state-licensed fire inspector, paramedic, registered nurse, and has earned associate degrees in Fire Science Technology and Emergency Medical Services from Florida State College at Jacksonville. He also holds an associate degree in Nursing from Excelsior College and is currently pursuing a Masters in Nursing Leadership and Management from Western Governors University.
Brinson recently served as the captain of the North Sector of Fire Prevention, which encompasses the HazMat coordinator’s function and high life hazards such as daycares, private schools, and correctional facilities. In addition to managing a complex sector of Fire Prevention, he has served Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia as a life safety instructor for nearly 20 years with prominent institutions throughout the first coast. He volunteers his time to the Girl Scouts of America (Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church Troops) as a coordinator of health and safety.
Appointed by Mayor Lenny Curry as the new chief of Fire Prevention and as fire marshal for JFRD, Brinson will lead the Fire Prevention Division with a renewed and robust emphasis on helping businesses navigate through the complex fire code permitting process, public education and community outreach focusing on life safety. The focus of his efforts is to ensure Fire Prevention plays an important part in the mayor’s goal of public safety for all our citizens.
About Gail Loput:
Loput grew up in South Florida. She became interested in becoming a firefighter while working as a lineman’s assistant for Florida Power & Light, after witnessing the team effort from multiple fire departments throughout Florida assist the Broward and Miami Dade areas recover from the destruction that was created by Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992. This event, combined with the manmade disaster of the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, set her on the path to becoming a firefighter. She knew that she would have to act on her dream and make it a reality by becoming a Firefighter, and she began taking classes to that end in 1998.
She began her career at JFRD on July 17, 2000. She has been assigned to both the rescue and suppression divisions as a firefighter and an engineer before being promoted to lieutenant in 2008.
Captain Loput has been a state-licensed paramedic for the last fifteen years. She received her Associate’s Degree in Emergency Medical Services from Broward Community College in 2005. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University in 2009. She is currently enrolled in the Master’s Degree Program for Emergency Management also at Columbia Southern University.
In her last assignment as the captain of Station 56 she was responsible for suppression, rescue and ARFF responsibilities. Station 56 is one of two JFRD Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Stations. She was responsible for overseeing the management and training of all personnel assigned to Station 56 for proper response on and off Cecil Airport. She has also been actively involved in writing standard operating procedures to be used during an emergency for the newly-integrated Navy personnel that are temporarily assigned to Station 56.
Appointed by Mayor Curry as the new division chief of Training for JFRD, Loput is responsible for training the JFRD to stay current with emerging training techniques and will continue to ensure the highest standards of public safety are met.