28 Apply For Fire Chief

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It’s been roughly six months since the Payson Fire Department’s chief retired and the town council axed the fire marshal position.

That has left one of the most expensive town departments without its top two leaders. Remarkably, things have not burned to the ground.

Deputy Town Manager of Public Safety Don Engler credits the town’s three battalion chiefs and fire staff for stepping up while the town figures out a replacement. The town hopes to hire a new fire chief by March at the latest.

Engler has overseen the operation of the fire department since Marty deMasi announced his early retirement following the council’s controversial decision to cut Bob Lockhart’s fire marshal position.

The council ultimately decided saving a possible $60,000 a year eliminating the fire marshal role was worth the risk. Council members reasoned that they could hire outside help or contractors to do what Lockhart had done and still save money.

So far, Payson has called on Hellsgate Fire Department’s fire marshal for three inspections, Engler said.

Hellsgate has not billed the town for those calls yet. For all other building and fire inspections, the town has relied on building department staff and firefighters.

“I am very, very proud of the battalion chiefs,” Engler said. “They have really worked hard. I am proud of the entire fire department staff because they have operated very effectively and had to take on a lot of additional responsibilities recently and they have just done outstanding.”

Engler credited battalion chiefs Dan Bramble, Jim Rasmussen and Tom Fife for keeping things on track.

The men could soon have a new boss.

The town received 28 fire chief applications after a nationwide search that closed Dec. 5.

Town staff are now going through those applications and making sure they meet the basic qualifications, Engler said. Interviews are scheduled to start in mid January, but could be delayed because of the holidays.

Comments

Pat Randall 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Does the new fire chief need only basic qualifications? No experience? Does not know the territory?
Why not bring back the Fire Marshall? He had all the qualifications and experience or why not one of the Battalion chiefs that are here and know the territory? Is it that the council wants someone new they can train to obey them not the ordinances? What we really need is a new council and mayor to start with.

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Ronald Hamric 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Pat,

Having been intimately involved in this sort of thing during my career, let me shed some light on your questions. Cities typically go outside the department to hire the top administrator (Chief) for several reasons. One, an outsider has not made any kind of bond with the local personnel. They have little to no allegiance to the department personnel. An outsider is selling themselves to the city. They will typically determine what it is the city staff has in mind for the department and then the candidate tries to convince them why they are infinitely better qualified and capable, of implementing the policies the city might have in mind, than any of the other candidates. Not a lot of emphasis on years of service, experience, or education as those who are generally candidates for a "Chief's " position most likely all have similar resumes. It really is all about the politics surrounding the "Master Plan" the city has put in place and how a department head might help them achieve the goals the city has established. You more or less "join the team" and with no allegiance to the personnel you will be administering, it is easy to implement controversial edicts from the City Council. A person hired from within has none of those traits and is therefore handicapped by "known attributes". That's pretty much it in a nutshell. As always there are always exceptions to the above.

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Rex Hinshaw 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Pat, I think we have a good council and Mayor. Elections will change that. Mr. Hamric's explanation makes sense.

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Pat Randall 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Rex and Ronald, You have a right to your opinions the same as I do. I fully agree with one thing Ronald said. " The outsider is selling himself to the city." It really is all about politics. The fire marshal was sold out by the city. He wanted to go by the rules.

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Ronald Hamric 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Pat,

Whether we like it or not, the various department heads serve at the discretion of the Mayor/City Council. Those folks look at their adopted "Master Plan", the budget, and many other things and often have to make hard choices as to how the town can effectively and safely operate and still stay within that budget and still achieve the goals of the "Master Plan". Often that means "changing the rules". Those residents who live and vote in Payson, including you, get to voice your views freely regarding their decisions, but unless you personally elevate yourself to one of those positions (Mayor/City Council) you will have little effect on those "hard choices". These city leaders most often respond when they get sizable input or pushback from a substantial portion of those they serve. Seldom will one or two, or a few opinions have much effect . But as you said you have the same right to your opinion as do others. And that's why we love you on here as you are very honest and forthcoming with your opinion. Happy New Year!

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