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Bartow, Fla. (July 15, 2022) — County Manager Bill Beasley has named Rick Parnell to be the interim Fire Chief for Polk County Fire Rescue, pending Board approval at their Commission Meeting on Tuesday, July 19.

Parnell, who is currently the Assistant Fire Chief, will step into the interim role on Saturday, July 30, 2022 when Rob Weech steps down. Weech accepted the Fire Chief position for Lighthouse Point in Broward County. His last day with Polk County will be Friday, July 29.

“The Fire Chief position is of critical importance in terms of the demand for service and growth in Polk County,” said Beasley. “Rick Parnell has both the historical knowledge and rapport with Fire Rescue staff to serve as the Interim Fire Chief until the position of Fire Chief is filled.”

Rick Parnell started his career with Polk County when he was 18, being the tenth fulltime firefighter hired by Polk. He has been Assistant Fire Chief for more than 20 years. Polk County Fire Rescue operations has oversight of the division’s more than 600 uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters and is currently the third busiest Fire Rescue department in the country.

According to Beasley, the county will perform a nationwide search for a new chief, which could take several months to fill.

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