By Rich Pollack
Highland Beach now has a new incoming fire chief, one with extensive experience in south Palm Beach County, who was chosen last month to lead the town’s effort to get its new fire department up and running.
Glenn Joseph, a veteran of more than three decades in fire service, including serving as chief in Boynton Beach and deputy chief in Boca Raton, was selected from a field of candidates after serving for almost a year as a fire consultant to Highland Beach.
“We think he’s going to be a spectacular chief and an outstanding community partner,” Town Manager Marshall Labadie said.
Joseph was one of five finalists who were interviewed for the position and stood out among the candidates, according to Mayor Doug Hillman.
“Nobody could hold a candle to Chief Joseph,” Hillman said. “He’s a fabulous choice.”
Hillman said that Joseph’s vast experience in fire rescue, as well as his understanding of the town’s needs — thanks to his months of consulting — were striking.
“He also fits right into our culture, and culture is very important in our little town,” Hillman said. “We have built a team spirit and Chief Joseph is definitely a team player.”
Joseph, 58, said he is excited about creating a new fire department and the challenges that come with it.
“How many firefighters get to start a department from the ground up?” he said. “It’s an opportunity I can’t pass up.”
The fire chief says his focus in the short term will be making sure the town obtains all the licenses and approvals it needs from county and state officials. He’ll also focus on developing policies and procedures and building the necessary infrastructure.
He expects to begin the process of hiring personnel in late fall or early winter and says the town will be looking for “the right people for the right jobs.”
In addition to being a veteran fire service administrator, Joseph is a paramedic and a nurse who worked in a trauma intensive care unit.
He has served as an adjunct instructor for the National Fire Academy since 1994 in areas related to emergency response to hazardous materials incidents.
After coming to Florida in 1976 from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, Joseph worked for an ambulance service before joining Lantana Fire Rescue and then Boca Raton Fire Rescue.
While in Boca, he served as a firefighter, paramedic, hazardous materials technician, lieutenant, captain and paramedic supervisor before retiring in 2016 as deputy chief.
Soon after, he accepted the position as chief of Boynton Beach Fire Rescue and was there until 2019, when he left to begin a consulting practice.
Joseph holds associate’s degrees in business and nursing, and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management as well as a bachelor’s in nursing and a master’s degree in emergency management.
The chief said he is looking forward to working with the town staff and commission as well as working with nearby communities.
“We want to be good neighbors and collaborate with Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Palm Beach County,” he said.