Oregon Fire Chief Bill Wilkins submitted his resignation to Mayor Marge Brown, The Press has learned.
Wilkins is retiring for health reasons, City Administrator Ken Filipiak confirmed Thursday night.
“I just saw it yesterday,” Filipiak said of the resignation letter. “It’s effective at the end of June. That’s all I truly know.”
Brown is expected to announce Wilkins’ retirement at a council meeting on Monday.
“He’s done a good job,” said Filipiak. “He’s done a lot to advance training of personnel, and upgrading equipment under his leadership. We’ve gone from a 36-hour fire training standard to a 120-hour standard, effective Jan. 1. The community can feel very good that we have a highly skilled fire staff.”
Brown’s appointment of Wilkins’ at a council meeting on Nov. 13, 2006 set off a firestorm of protest among fire fighters. Brown had just read to council a letter of retirement from long time Fire Chief Ray Walendzak before appointing Wilkins, who had been assistant fire chief for just six months. Prior to that, he was fire chief in Defiance, Ohio.
Tempers flared one week later as firefighters packed council chambers at a committee of the whole meeting to slam the administration’s hiring policies, which they said had excluded them from applying for the positions of chief and assistant chief.
Wilkins is the second city official to submit his resignation within two weeks. Filipiak submitted his resignation to Brown last week to take a job as city manager of Mentor, Ohio.
Mayor-elect Mike Seferian, who beat Brown in last Tuesday’s election, said he hopes to fill the position by June, or even before then.
“Now that we know that a new chief is in order, there will be an open process of filling the position,” said Seferian. “It appeared when Wilkins was appointed, no one within the department even had the opportunity to be chief. That certainly won’t be the case this time. I will be considering appointing someone within our own department. And if not, then open up the process to anyone else.”
Seferian said he’s already received a few resumes for the administrator’s post.
“I will be talking to Ken, and a host of other people I know, for some ideas on how to select a city administrator,” he said.