City begins search for new chief of fire and medical department

photo by: Nick Krug

A firefighter releases the flow of water from a hydrant to a Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical ladder truck during a training exercise in this file photo from April 28, 2009 at a training facility, 1941 Haskell Ave.

The search is underway for the next chief of the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical department.

The city opened the application for the position late Thursday, and City Manager Tom Markus said the city was conducting a national search for the next chief. Markus said the main qualifications the city was seeking were strong leadership and an understanding of technology and techniques to keep the department at the cutting edge when it came to providing fire and medical services to the community.

The chief is responsible for directing and reviewing the strategic planning, organizational activities and operations of the Fire Medical Department, according to the job posting. That includes executive-level administration of the department’s seven stations, two support facilities and management of 143 sworn staffers and additional civilian support teams.

The city’s job posting for the position states that the starting salary range for the chief is $131,473 to $144,621 annually, depending on qualifications.

When asked about key challenges the new chief will face, Markus said those include the ongoing discussion between the city and the county regarding the department’s funding, response time issues and facility issues. Last year, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical staff reported that response times have generally been getting slower over the past decade and said the city would need to add another station in the near future.

Markus said it would be important for the new chief to address response times and the potential addition of a new fire and medical station to the city. He said the city was addressing existing facility issues but that the new chief would need to come up with a reasonable plan for any potential expansions.

Regarding the process, Markus said the city would be doing both advertising and recruitment. He said the city would select about three finalists and that those finalists would do a community meet-and-greet in May.

Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford died in July 2018, and Fire Division Chief Shaun Coffey has been serving as interim fire chief for the past seven months.

The application for the fire chief position closes April 8, and Markus said that the start date of the new chief would be between the middle of June and July 1. Markus, who announced last year that he plans to retire this spring, said that he planned to remain in his position until around June.

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