Lawrence Fire Chief Jim McSwain Friday promoted a 41-year-old captain to the rank of major, the second-highest rank in the department.
Capt. Jerry Karr was chosen from a field of six captains to fill the position held by Maj. Paul Findley, who is retiring Wednesday after 30 years with the fire department.
Karr, a member of the department since 1979, currently is assigned to Fire Station No. 4, 2819 Stone Barn Ter. On Dec. 17, Karr will begin his new duties.
In a telephone interview Friday evening, Karr said he was elated when McSwain told him the news.
"It was a tough competition," he said.
The other captains vying for the position were Stan Ray, Larry Woydziak, Joe Thibodeau, William Stark and Don Beckner.
The selection process began in late November, when candidates were given a written examination. Candidates then went through a two-day assessment process in which they were judged on how they responded to five different scenarios.
As major, Karr will be overseeing the day-to-day operations personnel matters, payroll, supplies, etc. of one of the department's three shifts. The other shifts are supervised by Majs. Ron Coleman and Dan Morrow.
Karr, who is married and has two children, is a graduate of Emporia State University with a degree in business administration.
He is a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and received the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, an Army Commendation Medal and the Air Medal.
He was hired as a firefighter in 1979 and was promoted to training officer in 1985. In 1986 he was assigned to captain.
Among other qualifications, Karr is certified as an Emergency Medical Technician, Open Water Scuba Diver and Rescue Scuba Diver.