‘Interim’ no longer, O’Conor picked as new PTC fire chief

‘Interim’ no longer, O’Conor picked as new PTC fire chief

You can remove the “interim” label now, as Joe O’Conor has been installed as Peachtree City’s newest fire chief.

With his troops behind him after posing for a ceremonial photo recognizing O’Conor for winning a community firefighting award, City Manager Jim Pennington stepped in to make the formal announcement.

The look on O’Conor’s face revealed that he was surprised — make that stunned — by the appointment.

Right above, Peachtree City Manager Jim Pennington (L) congratulates new Peachtree City Fire Chief Joe O’Conor on his appointment to the position after serving in the role for 11 months. The surprise announcement drew whoops and hollers from fire department employees. Photo/John Munford.

O’Conor, formerly the department’s assistant chief, has served as the “interim” chief since the resignation of former chief Ed Eiswerth in December 2012.

The move is likely far less surprising to the rank and file at the fire department, as O’Conor has calmed the waves created by Eiswerth’s disgraceful departure. By all accounts, O’Conor has put the fire department’s ship on a clear, smooth course.

“He has done everything you can possibly imagine to take a department that was in a very tenuous condition and moved it forward,” Pennington said.

Pennington then reached into his pocket to pull out the shiny gold new badge.

“So I now make the appointment that Joe O’Conor is now the official, full-time, fire chief,” Pennington exclaimed. O’Conor’s staff roared with approval and burst into applause as Pennington shook hands with their “new” chief.

After the hoopla, all O’Conor could manage was a shocked “wow!”

Just minutes before, O’Conor had lauded his staff for helping the department improve since he took the helm.

“There are some amazing people standing in the corner over there,” O’Conor said, pointing to the firefighters, EMTs and paramedics in the audience. “This has never been about me. It’s always been about them and it’s truly an honor."

 O’Conor said he didn’t feel he deserved the firefighter’s award from the Ronnie Thames Foundation because he didn’t even save a life.

“I can tell you that together, I think we saved an organization,” O’Conor said.

 Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix lauded O’Conor for being “a marvel for the city and a marvel to the people who work under him.”

“I have heard nothing but praise for this man from anyone,” Haddix said.

When O’Conor took over the department 11 months ago, it was reeling from the abrupt resignation of Eiswerth, who was accused of making multiple sexual advances toward a female subordinate, on one occasion in which he forced his way into her hotel room at a conference. Eiswerth resigned after the allegations came to light in December 2012.

The female firefighter who blew the whistle on Eiswerth was awarded a $300,000 legal settlement from the city and the city’s risk management agency in March 2013. She claimed that during the incident in which Eiswerth came to her hotel room unsolicited and forced his way in, she worried that he was going to rape her.

The female firefighter, Martine Piers, told the city’s human resources department that she came forward to protect younger female firefighters, and she didn’t want Eiswerth to brush the incident under the carpet.

Some of the evidence against Eiswerth included text messages that Eiswerth had sent to Piers’ phone.

While the settlement with Piers provided her closure and gave the department a chance to move on, the appointment of O’Conor full-time is seen as a sign that the department’s course has settled under his leadership, which is more than city leaders could have hoped for immediately following the Eiswerth scandal.

Below, firefighters and members of the Ronnie Thames Foundation posed with new full-fledged fire chief Joe O'Conor (front row, far left) seconds before City Manager Jim Pennington removed the interim tag from O'Conor's title. Photo/John Munford.

pumpkin
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dude join weight watchers or something

hope this guy is not sent out for a real fire. don't believe we have a ladder strong enough to hold him. better a fireman than police, he sure couldn't run em down. get some veggies man.

pumpkin
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dude

hope this guy is not sent out for a real fire. don't believe we have a ladder strong enough to hold him. better a fireman than police, cause all the crooks could get away, he sure couldn't run em down. get some veggies man.

Spyglass
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You stay Classy!

Or you could just go away...that works too.

borntorun
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It's The Great pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

You so funny with your critique of our new fire chief. Especially since Hubbie Donnie could stand to lose a few pounds too. Guess its a good thing he's just a lame duck loser mayor rather than a policeman. And how is the Hubbie holding up after the crushing and embarrassing election? Kinda miss his megalomaniacal postings on here....nah....not really.

yeahwhatever
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Wise decision

Excellent choice. Anyone with a little intelligence can blow smoke or sunshine, but Chief O'Conor is the real deal. It's always nice to see the government make a wise choice despite themselves. Congrats to Chief O'Conor and the citizens of PTC.

mudcat
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And maybe he can do it again with police chief

When the time comes we have Stan Pye ready and able to take over. Not sure about willing, but he would be a perfect choice for police chief in my book. There really isn't any good reason to hire an unknown from out of town, pay huge moving expenses and have a months long transition period. Continuity and local knowledge count for a lot more than anyone seems to give credit for.

rmoc
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Wow City Manager didn't bring in one of his cronies

It couldn't have been a better pick. O'Conor deserves it and I am so glad to see the City management did not bring it some out of towner.

johenry
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A woman's influence!!!

Having a woman mayor might help keep the sex troubles out.

It's pretty clear Logsdon and Haddix weren't paying attention.

ptctaxpayer
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"Having a woman mayor might help keep the sex troubles out."

"Having a woman mayor might help keep the sex troubles out."

Yo, Johenry--- I think the recent Marine Corps pregnancy tally kinda disproves that theory.

Give PTC credit though for diversity--- we got public service guys grabbing girls, girls grabbing girls, etc.

If any of you believe that a mere set of elections will make a dent in all of this, dream on.

Husband and Fat...
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That's a sexist comment

No mayor, male or female, has control over this type of problem happening.

This didn't start with Logsdon or Haddix. This was ingrained long before and tolerated by each city manager and council.