BY MARIE PULEO
Robert Weech will begin his role as Lighthouse Point’s new fire chief on Aug. 15. The city commission, at its June 28 meeting, voted unanimously to confirm his appointment by Mayor Kyle Van Buskirk.
The position opened up when former Fire Chief Jeff Moral left the job at the end of January. Weech was chosen for the position of fire chief from among almost 50 applicants in a nationwide search, said Van Buskirk.
“He brings a lot of things to the table,” said Van Buskirk.
Weech, who grew up in Deerfield Beach, served as fire chief of Polk County, in central Florida, before coming to work for Lighthouse Point.
Weech joined Polk County Fire Rescue in 2017 as deputy fire chief of logistics and special services. In 2018, he became assistant chief of finance, administration, logistics and planning. The following year, he was appointed to the position of fire chief.
Weech started his fire service career in 1999 as a firefighter with Deerfield Beach Fire Rescue. He worked his way up the ranks to become assistant fire chief in 2008.
In 2011, Deerfield Beach Fire Rescue merged with the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Department of Fire and Rescue. Weech was with BSO until 2017, serving successively as division chief of finance and administration; assistant chief of operations; and assistant business manager.
Weech is a certified public accountant. He earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Florida State University, and a master of business administration degree in organizational development from Upper Iowa University.
Van Buskirk said Weech’s accounting background brings a “great aspect of looking at the numbers, which I think is important.”
The city’s goal is to keep its fire inspections and plan review in-house, rather than contract them out. Although Weech is not currently a fire inspector, he said he intends to go through the necessary training to become a state-certified fire inspector, which will enable him to eventually do plan reviews. He said he will also encourage fire personnel to “develop themselves in that direction as well.”
In his new position as Lighthouse Point fire chief, Weech will earn an annual salary of $140,000.
As Polk County fire chief, Weech oversaw all fire rescue administrative and operational functions for the third-largest county in Florida (Polk County has a population of over 700,000 people). He managed a budget exceeding $100 million for the operation for 45 fire and EMS stations and 100 front line response vehicles.
In his resignation letter addressed to the deputy county manager of Polk County, Weech said his reasons for leaving were personal in nature and centered around his desire to spend more time with his family. Weech left his post on July 29.
Van Buskirk told the commission that he has known Weech for over 25 years. Van Buskirk, in addition to being mayor, is a Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue battalion chief at Port Everglades. Prior to that he was with Deerfield Beach Fire Rescue for nine years, where he worked with Weech.
“He is a tireless worker,” said Van Buskirk. “I think we are very lucky to have someone of this caliber looking to come to Lighthouse Point.”
Van Buskirk said the city was looking for a strong leader with “the operational experience that I know that Rob is going to bring to our organization.”
Weech takes the helm of the Lighthouse Point Fire Department as it prepares to transition to the city’s new fire station/emergency operations center, which is nearing completion.
“I look forward to joining the team and making a contribution and impact,” said Weech.
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