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City announces interim public safety plan with Isom at helm

Joshua Baethge,
The Anna-Melissa Tribune
Anna Fire Department Chief Ray Isom will serve as interim public safety director while the city continues its search for a new police chief.

ANNA - Anna Fire Chief Ray Isom will serve as interim public safety director as the city continues its search for a new police chief.

Current Police Chief Jeff Caponera’s official last day with the city is Aug. 31. He is leaving to become chief of the police department in Grafton, Wisconsin.

“I’m kind of stepping in and making sure the transition goes well,” Isom explained of his new role.

While he will technically oversee both the police and fire departments, Isom will primarily oversee the day-do-day police operations since that department lacks both a chief and assistant chief.

Assistant Fire Chief Dan Wood will manage fire and rescue operations.

Isom joined the Anna Fire Department in 2017. A second-generation firefighter, his career spans nearly 25 years.

He is a certified Master Firefighter, commissioned Master Peace Officer and an Emergency Medical Technician. For more than 15 years, his specialty has been fire marshaling.

As a deputy with the Texas State Fire Marshal’s office in Austin, Isom was deeply involved with the investigation into the 2008 Governor’s mansion fire in Austin. He’s also led multiple bomb, arson and fatality fire investigations.

Wood came to the Anna Fire Department in April 2019 after serving as the Sherman Fire Department’s division chief of operations. He came to the city after meeting Isom at a conference. At the time, he wasn’t looking to change jobs, but that soon changed.

“I love the high growth aspect of Anna and I love the out-of-the-box thinking at the city leadership level,” he said.

Being a fire chief is not a job he has aspired to. Wood enjoys his role as the department’s second in command because it allows him to get a more hands-on feel for running the department.

One exciting development for the department was the recent creation of a new rank.

Firefighters Carl Konosky, Cody Watson, and RJ Morgan were recently named Anna’s first Driver/Engineer.

Wood says that it is one of the most difficult promotions to achieve. The testing process includes a written exam akin to high-level algebra, a driving portion with multiple obstacles, and simulated pumping scenarios with high degrees of difficulty.

“These guys have to understand every aspect, every tool, every button bell or whistle on that $850,000 fire engine out there,” Wood says. “The promotion process really tests their ability and their calmness to process complicated mathematical computations while working a machine and monitoring the situation.”

There will likely be more driver/engineers in the coming years as the department continues to grow. For now, both department leaders say they expect the police and fire department to continue running smoothly during this transitional time.

The city is still accepting applications for police chief and evaluating potential candidates.

“This is just a transition period,” Isom said. “As soon as we can get the police department leadership back on track, we are going to revert back to what it was before.”

Anna firefighters complete a difficult test recently in an attempt to be promoted to the department's newly created Driver/Engineer rank.