Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced today that he was rescinding his nomination of Randy Smith for chief of the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department. Stimpson said the leadership and progress within the department has not met his expectations.

“Since November, we have worked to address the transformational opportunities with the MFRD — operationally, functionally, financially and personnel-wise,” Stimpson said at a press conference Sept. 8. “We are now at a crossroads where I need to make a personnel decision so that we can continue to move the city forward under the vision I’ve cast, to become the safest, most business and family-friendly city in America by 2020.”

Interim Fire Chief Randy Smith

Gabriel Tynes / Lagniappe

Interim Fire Chief Randy Smith

Assistant Chief Billy Pappas, as the highest ranking officer in the department, will handle the day-to-day operations of the department until a new chief is named, Stimpson said. Smith will return to his previous duties as a deputy chief.

Stimpson’s Chief of Staff Colby Cooper stopped short of calling the action a demotion, but rather a “change in direction” because Smith was never officially given the title of chief or the subsequent pay raise. Smith earns $96,056 a year as deputy chief, Cooper said. Pappas earns $106,027.

“I have great respect for Randy Smith,” Stimpson said. “I value his steadfast service to the City of Mobile for over three decades.”

Stimpson didn’t take any follow up questions at the press conference, citing Smith’s “good name and character.”

Executive Director of Public Safety Richard Landolt declined to release the names of possible candidates for the position, saying “I am vetting a lot of people.” In an interview last week Lagniappe learned that Capt. Jason Craig was being considered for the job.

There is no timetable on the naming of a new chief.

Updated  at 5:26 p.m. to clarify salary information.