Search lags for new Fairfield fire chief, deputy
Published 7:57 am, Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The Fire Commission voted in March not to renew Deputy Fire Chief Art Reid's contract when it expires in December, but First Selectman Michael Tetreau said this week the search for his replacement is behind schedule.
The position has been posted in-house, in several state newspapers and online. "We would be thrilled if some of our current assistant chiefs stepped up and applied," Tetreau said Tuesday. "They certainly have a great background and know the town. However, we did open it up to ensure the residents get the best available candidates."
Reid, who has been deputy chief for 12 years, has filed a lawsuit over his contract's non-renewal.
The timeline for hiring a new deputy fire chief discussed with the commission in May, when Fire Chief Richard Felner informed the panel he did not wish his contract renewed when it expires next year, called for the top 10 candidates to be interviewed by Felner and Tetreau, with the top three interviewed by the beginning of October. Those three names were then to be forwarded to the Fire Commission for a final decision, with the initial plan calling for a new deputy chief to be hired by early next year.
According to the job listing, applications must be received by Oct. 13, and the chosen candidate must be able to start Feb. 1, 2015.
Qualifications for the position, which will have a salary of between $110,000-$130,000 annually, include at least three years as an assistant or deputy chief, or the equivalent, in a similar sized fire department; 10 years of "progressive, responsible experience" in administration, including five years as a fire officer. The new deputy chief is also expected to have a bachelor's degree in fire service management and public administration, with a master's degree preferred or "any equivalent combination of education and experience sufficient to successfully perform" the job.
The job posting also includes a list of responsibilities associated with the position.
With the departure of Felner next year, the town also needs to fill the department's top administrative post. At a recent Fire Commission meeting, one commission member asked if they should reconstitute a succession committee that had been previously established. Two of the committee's three members no longer serve on the commission, and the third is Felner.
Felner said Bob Mayer, Tetreau's chief of staff, is working on that and will submit it to the commission for review.
Asked about the status of the search for Felner's replacement, Fire Commission Chairman Craig van Steenbergen said he had no information.
"We haven't started that fully yet," Tetreau said of the chief search. "It will be similar to what we're doing for the deputy chief." He said officials expect to open that search soon.
With a new chief and deputy expected to lead the department next year, Tetreau said, "That's one of the challenges for the new chief. There are some fire departments that don't have a deputy and that's something you deal with when you search outside for a new leader."
Any new department head faces a learning curve, the first selectman said, "but it also creates an opportunity for new ideas, new technology and new applications."