COPPERAS COVE — While the city is looking for another fire chief, the last chief already found a new job.
Burney Baskett, who left the Copperas Cove department last month after eight months on the job, started his new job as executive director of Johnson County Emergency Services District No. 1 on Wednesday.
“We feel real good about him,” said R.C. McFall, vice chairman of the ESD board that hired Baskett from a field of three candidates.
A published report indicated Baskett was terminated Feb. 13; however, city officials would not verify that report on Wednesday.
City spokesman Kevin Keller confirmed Baskett left city employment on that date but declined to give details of the circumstances under which Baskett left.
McFall said Baskett mentioned his short tenure in Cove during the interview but it did not have much impact on the decision to hire him.
“Oh, I think there was some trouble with the (Copperas Cove) city manager, but I don’t know for sure,” McFall said. “On the personnel stuff, we don’t talk about it much.”
McFall said he was impressed with Baskett’s experience and “people skills,” which are needed for his new role overseeing 16 fire departments in the county, including some volunteer and some paid firefighters. Baskett’s roots in Johnson County — he graduated from Burleson High School in 1981 — and his tenure with the Arlington Fire Department gave him a leg up in the interview, McFall said. “He is familiar with the area.”
The salary for the position is “in the 70s,” McFall said. The position was vacant just three months before Baskett was hired. When he was hired by Copperas Cove in June, Baskett succeeded former fire chief Sean Hughes, who left in October 2012 after five months on the job. Copperas Cove Deputy Chief/ Fire Marshal Michael Fleming will be interim chief until a replacement is found, Keller said. The post will remain open until filled.