Suamico seeking firm to help hire full-time fire chief
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – The village board wants the hiring of a full-time fire chief to be done with the help of a consultant.
Board members agreed Monday, Aug. 5, to have Village Administrator Alex Kaker put together a request for proposals for consulting services related to the recruitment and selection process for the full-time chief.
Last month, the board directed village staff to pursue the hiring of a full-time chief.
The switch from a part-time to a full-chief had been recommended by a staffing committee among the options related to meeting future staffing needs for the fire department.
Kaker informed the board about the current part-time chief, Troy Noe, having submitted a letter of decline to pursue the full-time position, which the Fire Commission unanimously accepted.
Noe has indicated he will continue to serve as fire chief until a new full-time chief is hired and would be interested in remaining with the department wherever the new chief would decide is best.
“I thank you for staying on, chief, and working through this process,” Kaker said. “I respect that you’re doing that.”
Kaker noted the Fire Commission recommended to the board that it hire a consulting firm to help hire a full-time chief.
Fire Commission member Randy Christopherson, who retired in 2011 as the police chief for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, spoke before the board.
Though the Fire Commission could conduct the preliminary interviews, Christopherson said having a consultant would make sure that by going from a part-time to a full-time chief there is a process in place to do an adequate assessment about knowledge, skills and abilities of the person being selected.
“We want to make sure that whoever that person is they have that management skill of bringing forth the department from a volunteer, paid, on-call basis to as we keep adding more and more full-time (personnel) and as the village continues to grow,” he said.
Christopherson said the Fire Commission asked to work with Kaker to put together a proposal for recruiting a consultant to help the village in selecting a full-time chief.
“The concerns I’ve heard from board members here is… the ability of managing staff we have and the continuing progression of the professionalism in the department,” he said. “We want to make sure we have the right person in place that can help grow with the department and bring that department along as part of that process.”
Christopherson said managing paid, on-call firefighters would be different than managing full-time staff.
Kaker indicated in a memo to the board that he would anticipate the cost of using a consulting firm would be between $6,000 to $10,000.
However, Trustee Sky Van Rossum said sending out the request for proposals for a consultant at this point wouldn’t commit the village to hiring one.
This year, Suamico had used the services of the Oshkosh-based Public Administration Associates to help in the hiring of a new village administrator with the retirement of Steve Kubacki.
Trustee Dan Roddan said he favors having a consultant assist in hiring a full-time fire chief, the same as what was used in the process to hire a new village administrator.
“To be able to deal with personnel issues, to be able to develop firefighters within the organization, we need those skills, and I think those would be valuable,” Roddan said.
Trustee Jason Ward said the cost of making the wrong decision on selecting a full-time chief would be more expensive than the cost of hiring a consultant to help in the selection process.
Kaker said he would be able to put together a request for proposals to discuss at the Fire Commission’s meeting on Aug. 19 and then send it out.
He said the cost for a consultant could come out of the $40,000 that hasn’t been used this year in the contingency fund for personnel.
Board members directed Kaker to draft a request for proposals to advertise for consulting services to help in the recruitment and selection of a full-time fire chief with the Fire Commission recommending a firm to select and the associated cost for those services.