By SHELLY WILKISON
Emergency Services Commissioners last week appointed Battalion Chief Anthony Lincoln as interim Fire Chief to replace Chancy Bizzell, who resigned March 26.
After serving 17 months as Fire Chief of the Williamson County Emergency Services District #4, Bizzell announced Friday he is stepping down to pursue a career in fire equipment sales. Bizzell first joined the department as a volunteer firefighter 10 years ago and worked his way up the ranks to Fire Chief.
Bizzell said he was approached by Casco Industries several months ago about selling fire equipment for the company and servicing a region that includes Williamson, Travis and Burnet counties among others in Central Texas.
“I’ve been in the fire service my whole life,” he said, adding that the decision to leave Liberty Hill fire was a difficult one.
“I haven’t eaten in three days and have only had a few hours sleep,” he said. His last day on the job is Friday, April 4, and as the day gets closer, Bizzell said the reality of his departure becomes more difficult.
“There were ups and downs (during his 10 years at WCESD#4), but mostly good times thanks to the men and women firefighters. They will be missed,” he said.
Bizzell served as Assistant Chief five years before his appointment to chief in October 2012. It was Bizzell who encouraged Lincoln to join the department six years ago. At that time, Lincoln had just retired from the Georgetown Fire Department, where he had served as Fire Chief for the last nine years of his service.
“I never set out to be chief,” Lincoln said of his tenure in Georgetown. “I started as a volunteer there back in the days where there were only three or four of us on duty (on a shift). But then the community started growing, just like what’s happening here.”
“Being chief wasn’t on my list of things to do again,” Lincoln laughed. “But I do believe I bring a lot to the table. I enjoy working here, working with the Board and the community.”
He added that his experience in Liberty Hill has included working on budgets and supervising personnel.
Lincoln said he will be seeking a permanent appointment to the position after the ESD Board meets April 21 to set a course for filling the vacancy.
“We wish Chief Bizzell the best in his new venture, and appreciate his service and leadership,” said ESD Commissioner James Baker. “I had the opportunity to work closely with his years ago. The skills he came to us with as a volunteer made us a better department and his assistance in training other volunteers was beneficial to Liberty Hill.”
ESD President Sandra Taylor, who was recently reappointed by Williamson County Commissioners to a two-year term on the Board, said the Board accepted Bizzell’s resignation with reluctance, but voted unanimously to appoint Lincoln to serve as interim chief.
“He (Bizzell) has a great opportunity that presented itself to him, and we wish him the best,” she said.
The ESD Board named Lincoln interim chief at a salary of $78,000.
Since 2009, the ESD has experienced multiple changes in administration. Bizzell served as interim chief for almost a year after the controversial termination in May 2009 of longtime Chief James Pogue.
After the ESD Board hired Bruce Watson as Pogue’s permanent replacement in February 2010, Bizzell returned to the rank of Assistant Chief.
The Board terminated Watson in January 2012 and promoted Mark McAdams to Chief in April 2012. McAdams had been serving as the department’s training officer.
Bizzell was named Chief upon McAdams’ resignation in October 2012.