Sarasota County appoints new fire chief

David Rathbun

Sarasota County has chosen a veteran fire administrator from Orange County to run its fire department. David Rathbun, the former deputy fire chief of Orange County Fire Rescue, will take on the role of Sarasota County fire chief in November.

Throughout his more than 30 years of service at Orange County Fire Rescue, Rathbun rose through the ranks, providing direction and leadership for nearly every division during the span of his career with the department.

Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis commented: “Chief Rathbun brings valuable experience along with a deep knowledge of the fire service in the state of Florida to Sarasota County as the next fire chief. He has a strong understanding of leading a fire department that provides life-saving service to a community.”

“We are grateful to Mike Hartley, whose dedicated service in the role of acting fire chief was instrumental during the search for Sarasota County Fire Department’s new chief,” added Lewis.

Rathbun started with Orange County Fire Rescue as a firefighter/EMT in 1989 and has served as a lieutenant, battalion chief, assistant chief, division chief of logistics, division chief of operations and division chief of planning and technical services.  He retired as the department’s Deputy Fire Chief in January.

Throughout his 32 years with OCFR, Rathbun managed fire operations, emergency medical services and special operations, fleet and equipment needs for the department with more than 1,500 personnel. He developed standard operating procedures, long-term station location and facility capital improvement plans, implemented a strategic planning process and new computer aided dispatch system, as well as managed the department’s re-accreditation.

Commenting on his appointment Rathbun said: “The opportunity to work with the heroes of Sarasota County Fire Department is an extraordinary one. I look forwarding to getting to know them and deepen the ties we have with our residents and visitors.”

Rathbun holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing. He also proudly served in the United States Navy from 1983 to 1987. He is expected to start his new role with SCFD on Nov. 7, 2022.

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