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Sarasota Friday, Sep. 23, 2022 3 days ago

Sarasota County names new fire chief

After a nine-month search, retired Orange County Deputy Chief David Rathbun has been named new chief of the Sarasota County Fire Department.
by: Andrew Warfield Staff Writer

Nine months after Michael Regnier left Sarasota County Fire Department to become assistant fire chief on Longboat Key, the county has named a new fire chief following a national search.

And it didn’t have to look outside of Florida to find him.

David Rathbun, a 32-year veteran of Orange County Fire-Rescue, is scheduled to take over as fire chief on Nov. 7, taking the helm from Mike Hartley, who served as acting chief during the search. As Rathbun rose through the ranks on Orange County, he held leadership positions in nearly every division of the department. He retired as the department’s deputy fire chief in January.

“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,” said Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis. "He has a strong understanding of leading a fire department that provides life-saving service to a community.”

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. 

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

“The opportunity to work with the heroes of Sarasota County Fire Department is an extraordinary one,” Rathbun said. “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 served in the U.S. Navy from 1983 to 1987.

A native Floridian, Rathbun and his wife, Michelle, have five children and eight grandchildren.

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Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North

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