Odessa EMS head named new Victoria fire chief

Sonny Long

March 29, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
Updated March 28, 2011 at 10:29 p.m.

Taner Drake is bringing his firefighter boots to Victoria.

Drake, the assistant fire chief for emergency medical services with the Odessa Fire Department, has been hired as Victoria's next fire chief, according to a news release from the city of Victoria.

"I am extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to coming on board and becoming a citizen of Victoria," Drake said. "I'll also make sure to bring my boots with me."

Drake was selected from more than 40 candidates who applied for the position. A review team of City Manager Charmelle Garrett, Assistant City Manager Bruce Ure and Human Resources Director Cheryl Marthiljohni reviewed all the applications.

Drake will replace former Chief Vance Riley who retired on Jan. 31.

The city's commitment to the fire department including most recently the building of two new fire stations was among the attractions to the job, Drake said.

"The department also struck me as being on the cutting edge of emergency response and preparedness," Drake said. "The department is also rich in history and prideful professionalism. After meeting several members of the department, I was really excited about the opportunity. I felt those were attributes that I wanted to be a part of."

Drake has 18 years experience in the Odessa Fire Department including as a firefighter, firefighter/paramedic, captain, central captain, operations assistant chief and currently serves as the assistant chief over EMS.

"Chief Drake has the leadership skills, experience and educational background that we were searching for in our new fire chief," said Garrett. "Promoting up through the ranks as Chief Drake did, certainly demonstrates his desire and proven ability to successfully lead a fire service and EMS organization," she added in the news release.

In his current position, Drake manages eight mobile intensive care EMS transport units and staff that provide emergency medical services that cover more than 900 square miles and serves more than 130,000 residents.

In the Odessa department, Drake also served as the assistant fire chief of fire operations with responsibility of eight front line fire apparatus and a staff of more than 150 emergency personnel.

Drake said his immediate goals will be to get to know the department.

"I want to develop relationships with the management team and with the membership of the department," Drake said. "I do not have a set agenda and will take some time to get to know everyone and evaluate the department as a whole."

He is expected to begin his job in Victoria in mid-May, according to the news release.

"My family and I really like the location of Victoria," said Drake. "It is a very nice community with a lot to offer and the people have been very friendly and inviting."



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