Published On: Fri, Apr 10th, 2020

Delray Beach Names new Fire Chief

By Neilsonsky Noel

A new Delray Beach fire chief has been selected to replace former chief Neal de Jesus who resigned abruptly on March 10 amid allegations of inappropriate conduct.

City Manager George Gretsas, earlier this week, announced the promotion of Keith Tomey, a seasoned emergency services leader, to lead the department.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be appointed to lead this great department,” the second-generation firefighter said in a news release. “I’m very proud of the well-trained, hard-working people at DBFR who serve the city of Delray Beach with excellence in every situation.”

According to the news release, Tomey began his career as a firefighter/paramedic for the City of Miramar in 1986 and worked his way through the ranks to chief in January 2014.

Two years later, in December 2016, de Jesus hired him as an assistant fire chief in Delray Beach.

Tomey filled in as interim chief twice when de Jesus served as interim city manager. His first stint came three days after he was hired, from December 2016 until November 2017 and again, from March 2019 to January 2020.

Tomey has a diverse experience in emergency management, disaster planning preparedness and recovery that he proved over the years.

He has delivered at least seven babies and saved countless ducklings in his career, according to published reports.

He once responded to a plane crash at a strip mall on Pembroke Road, where he was “shocked” to learn one of the people who died had attended paramedics’ school with him, according to a news report in the Sun-Sentinel.

On another occasion, according to the newspaper, Tomey and a former Chief Fred Kunz responded to a house fire, only to get lost inside the smoky structure trying to find the source of the flames. Hearing the fire truck horn — code for evacuation — the men tried to follow the hose back outside before hearing a crash and seeing sunlight.

The pair exited the house seconds before the roof collapsed over the spot they had just been standing.

He holds a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Barry University and an associate’s degree in fire science from Broward College.

Tomey earned his executive fire officer, the flagship credentials in the fire industry, from the National Fire Academy in 2005, and in 2011, the Center of Public Safety Excellence designated him as a chief fire officer, according to Miramar Fire-Rescue Department website.

He is credited with developing a fire academy at Everglades High School and a Fire Cadets program in Miramar  to build a “homegrown” department.

Under Tomey’s direction, Delray Beach Fire-Rescue achieved a coveted Class 1 ranking from the Insurance Service Office in October 2018 and in March, earned accreditation with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International for the first time in the agency’s history.

“Together, we have accomplished so much in the past few years,” he said. “My goal is to keep moving forward and to keep improving.”

Tomey promoted Battalion Chief Greg Giaccone to the rank of assistant chief in charge of operations.

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