Columbia residents will get a chance to talk to the three finalists for the fire chief position at the Columbia Fire Department.

The meet-and-greet will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Regional Economic Development Inc. at 500 E. Walnut St.

The three finalists are Maria Beermann-Foat, Christopher Riley and Andy Woody.

Brian Adkisson, communications and marketing manager for Columbia, said that it will be an informal meet-and-greet and the public will be able to approach the candidates face-to-face.

Beermann-Foat has worked in Johnson County, Kansas, since 1999 and is currently a battalion chief of operations for MED-ACT, the county’s emergency medical services, according to a news release. She first joined the emergency medical service team as a paramedic and moved up to roles of community education officer/public information officer, captain/field training officer, battalion chief of training and division chief of quality management.

She is a member of the International City and County Management Association, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the National EMS Management Association and the American Society for Quality Kansas City.

Beermann-Foat has also been on the Diversity and Equity Committee for Johnson County since 2017.

Riley is currently fire chief in both Pueblo, Colorado, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, according to a news release. He has 38 years of fire service experience.

He received Chief Fire Officer designation through the Center of Public Safety Excellence. He is currently a member of the Branch Council with the Institute of Fire Engineers, USA Branch, and a Fellow Grade member of the Institute of Fire Engineering.

Riley has been certified throughout his career as chief officer, company officer, strike team leader, division group supervisor, fire instructor, fire investigator, fire prevention officer and both emergency medical technician instructor and paramedic.

Woody is fire chief in Searcy, Arkansas, where the department is accredited and considered Class 1 (the highest) by the Insurance Services Office. His career began in 1997 at the Springfield Fire Department where he rose to the position of assistant fire chief.

He has credentials through the Center for Public Safety Excellence as a chief fire officer and chief training officer. He has completed the Executive Fire Officer Program through the National Fire Academy. He serves as a regional director of the Arkansas State Association of Fire Chiefs and as a peer review for the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

Woody has also been an adjunct instructor with the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute.

Deputy Chief Kyle Fansler has been acting chief since Randy White retired in October, according to previous Missourian reporting.

White had been with the Columbia firefighters since October 1998 and worked his way through the ranks of firefighter I, firefighter II, engineer, lieutenant, captain and deputy chief. White became chief in February 2015 after Charles Witt retired.

Supervising editor is Fred Anklam Jr.

  • Education beat reporter at the Columbia Missourian, fall 2019. Studying News Reporting at MU. Reach me at or the newsroom at 882-5720.

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