Fire & EMS Associate
Director of Public Safety – Fire Chief, Hernando County, Florida
Chief Scott Hechler has a nearly forty (40) year career in public service, and currently serves as the Director of Public Safety – Fire Chief for Hernando County, Florida since June 2014. As the Chief of Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services (HCFES), he leads an all-hazards department that provides fire protection, advanced life support (ALS) first responder EMS services, ALS emergency transport services, ALS inter-facility transport services, ARFF, HAZ-Mat, and Technical Rescue Teams, and emergency management services that specializes in both coastal preparedness and inland river related community risks. HCFES’ 292 members responded to nearly 38,000 emergency incidents in 2021 protecting 195,000 citizens and thousands of tourists from around the world. Scott led the newly merged countywide fire department to develop its first strategic plan, standards of response coverage, and guiding principles documents. He co-founded the Nature Coast Fire Chiefs Association. While still responsible for the county’s largest department, Scott also provided executive leadership to mosquito control, animal services, facilities maintenance, facilities custodial services, fleet management, building official’s office, parks & recreation, human resources, and risk management.
From June 2012 to his retirement in June 2014, Scott served as the Deputy Fire Chief for Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He was responsible for the operations, EMS, and emergency management divisions. He was appointed Interim Fire Chief for six months and assembled the department’s first strategic planning executive committee consisting of all ranks, civilian staff, and volunteer fire and rescue officers. Scott helped lead the transition of the career staff from weekday staffing to twenty-four (24) shifts. He also led emergency management staff in preparations for weather related emergencies and events such as large-scale civil war re-enactments. He also mentored a chief officer to aspire for and become the county Fire Chief.
Prior to his appointment in Spotsylvania County, he served as the Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management for Campbell County, Virginia. He was responsible for the career fire, EMS, and emergency management divisions. He also led animal services and 911 Communications Center as well as served as the county risk manager. Scott united the career fire/EMS staff and the fourteen-volunteer fire and rescue departments into one County Department of Public Safety that preserved organizational independence. He led the development of the first countywide fire EMS strategic plan. He also led the emergency preparedness plan for a two-day Regional Air Show that included the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. He also mentored his Deputy Director to become the first female Director of Public Safety for Campbell County.
Prior to his appointment in Campbell County, Scott was recruited by Battelle Memorial Institute, where he served as a fire and emergency services subject matter expert assigned to the U.S. Navy CNIC HQ N37 Director of Naval Fire & Emergency Services. He worked in a full-time and part-time capacity from August 2007 to March 2013. He analyzed Naval Installation fire/EMS program assessments, apparatus specifications and procurement, Congressional inquiries, and special projects. He served on CNIC HQ Emergency Management Naval Installation Emergency Response Team assessment project team. He improved DoD firefighter safety worldwide as project manager for an interactive web-based firefighter safety and injury risk-reduction training course. He also developed an International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET) recognized NIMS Compliance and Instructional Program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Fire Academy, FEMA Emergency Management Institute, and AFCESA / DoD Certification Program staff.
Prior to his recruitment by Battelle, Scott was appointed in March 2004 by Governor Warner of Virginia to join his executive leadership team as the Chief Deputy Executive Director of the Virginia Department of Fire Programs. He directed VDFP’s statewide accreditation, certification, training and response programs for all firefighters within the Commonwealth of Virginia. He provided leadership along with Executive Director for reciprocity agreement between VDFP and Virginia’s community colleges. He served as a liaison to the Governor’s Office, Secretary of Public Safety, General Assembly, local governments, organizations, and federal entities. He partnered with the Executive Director and senior division staff to gain Pro Board accreditation for numerous VDFP firefighter NFPA certifications.
Prior to his appointment by the Governor, Scott began his fire EMS career with Chesterfield County, Virginia in October of 1982. He soon became the youngest lieutenant in the department’s history and rose through the ranks as an assistant fire marshal (fire investigator & fire inspector), captain, administrative officer, and interim battalion chief. He led the creation and implementation of a firefighter health & fitness program. He also was a State Certified Adjunct Fire Instructor III since 1988 and a Virginia Fire Marshal Academy Instructor since 1996.
Scott holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Liberty University, a dual major B.A. in Labor Safety & Health / Labor Studies from the National Labor College. He has completed the VCU Center for Public Policy Virginia Executive Institute, the UVA Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service LEADs program, and the John Tyler Community Center Total Quality Management Institute program. He has been a member of numerous emergency preparedness, public safety, NIMS, and community readiness workgroups at the regional, state, national levels. He also holds the Chief Fire Officer Designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.