Oregon Mayor Mike Seferian expects to hire a new fire chief by next month.
Seferian wants to hire a chief from within the department.
“We’ll be talking to 24-26 different people within the department,” said Seferian. “We’re going to talk to all the captains, the assistant chiefs, chief of training, and a few part-time firefighters.”
He’s also seeking input from within the department on the selection process to improve morale.
“We want to open it up to get as much input from the department itself as we can,” he said.
”Not only do I want to be happy with the appointment, they have to have an appreciation for the process so we can have a happier department, then we can work on the issues,” he said.
“We’re hoping to name a chief within the first week of April,” he added.
The position has been vacant since Fire Chief Bill Wilkins left the post last month to take a job with the state fire marshal’s office.
Assistant Chief Paul Mullin is acting chief until a replacement is found.
Seferian wants to avoid the missteps of former Mayor Marge Brown, whose appointment of Wilkins at a council meeting on Nov. 13, 2006 set off a firestorm of protest among firefighters. 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.
Firefighters were also disappointed that the administration, in picking Wilkins, overlooked more senior firefighters from within the department.
Friction remained between the department and the administration.
Firefighters later endorsed Seferian for mayor.
Seferian, an independent, wants unanimous support from council, which is dominated by Democrats, for his appointment.