Brookfield trustees will meet for the first time March 19 with the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association to discuss a process for hiring a new fire chief, but some question the need for the meeting at all.
Trustee Dan Suttles voted against hiring the association, saying the trustees could do the work themselves. Three residents who attended the March 5 trustees meeting agreed with Suttles , but also said the next chief should be named from the men already in the department.
Trustee Ron Haun said using the association will make for a more objective process.
“I’m talking about a process for a fire chief that’s probably going to be here for the next 10 or 20 years,” Haun said. “My opinion, an expenditure of money on doing this, and getting the best candidate for Brookfield Township, makes the most sense. This individual’s going to be here, hopefully, for a long period of time, and I want the Brookfield residents to have the best fire chief possible.”
The trustees have not chosen what level of service they want to buy from the association – cost estimates range from $4,000 to $11,000 – but Haun said the tasks the association could do include:
- Reviewing the existing job description and making suggestions to revise it.
- Developing a position profile based on the job description and input from township officials and fire department personnel. The profile would include desired skills, experience, training, education, qualities and characteristics.
- Advertising for candidates.
- Receiving applications and resumes.
- Accepting requests for information.
- Reviewing candidates.
- Developing a summary of applicants.
- Conducting oral board interviews or assessment testing with “job-related exercises” to ascertain administrative and technical knowledge.
- Recommending candidates for interview by the trustees.
“The OFCA will monitor the process from the beginning to the final selection; however, the township has the final decision on which candidates advance in each phase of the selection process,” Haun said, reading a letter from the association.
The trustees would offer the job to their selected candidate.
Suttles said he did not want to seem to be a know-it-all but, as a former assistant fire chief in Warren, “I’ve done everything that he listed on that list.”
“I was elected as a trustee to help hire people,” Suttles said. “I want to pick our fire chief. If we get 25 candidates and they give me three, I’m sorry, I want to know who the other 22 were.”
The decision by Haun and Trustee Gary Lees to hire the association flies in the face of the letter they and former Trustee Dion Magestro sent to registered voters at the end of the year, which concerned the financial position of the fire department, Suttles said.
“I also realize how important it is to have a fire chief, that I want him to be long term,” he said. “But, I think that we can do that ourselves. When we have to spend, possibly, $11,000 to do that, I don’t think that’s fiscally responsible, from my position.”
Michalene Foltz, Jean Kozarich and Betty Shaffer said the trustees should hire the next chief from within.
“We don’t have the money to put out like that,” Shaffer said. “The three of you, you should be putting your heads together and thinking about it, not just going to spend money. You should do your job.”