MT. VERNON — Choosing to act quickly on Chief Mike Huntman’s retirement, trustees of the Jefferson Fire Protection District are pushing toward naming a replacement by the end of the month.
During a brief meeting held at JFPD headquarters on South 10th Street on Thursday, the three-man board voted to follow the recommendation of Chairman Terry Jones in posting the opening internally, conducting interviews and then selecting a chief prior to Huntman’s May 30 departure.
“Anyone interested in applying for the position of fire chief needs to get a written resume sent into the district, we need to post the job description and requirements for the job. The applications will be reviewed by the board, we’ll conduct interviews and then we will consider hiring a fire chief is anyone meets the qualifications,” Jones outlined.
“The last couple of months all we’ve talked about is making sure we do things right, not going out of the norm or whatever the norm used to be and done right. If we’re going to do this, we need to do it right and the way any other department or city would do it,” he continued.
Trustee Terry Moore said he agreed with the recommendation, although trustee Les Sinks requested a closed session to discuss personnel. The motion died for a lack of a second.
“I think we need to do this before the chief is gone,” Moore added.
Trustees moved to accept applications by April 28 and they will be reviewed on April 29. Interviews will be conducted beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 30, and the board indicated they would hire a chief at the conclusion of those interviews.
Several firefighters with the district were at the meeting, suggesting there was a lot of interest in the position.
“We’re all family here, we’re all volunteers, we’re all interested in it,” said Jason McIlrath. “We’re all kind of interested in where this department is going to go. He (Huntman) has been here for 30 years. That’s a big change for every single person siting here. That’s why we’re here.”
“I think we’re all here for the same reason. We may have different views about how we’re going to get there, but I think that’s the intent of everyone,” said Jones.
Jefferson Fire Protection District is a volunteer/paid district. It includes about 30 volunteers, four paid officers and one part-time secretary. The district covers a 220-square mile area with stations in Dix, Opdyke, Ina and headquarters in Mt. Vernon.