Today's Question: Who should be included in independent interview panel for fire chief search?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | 11:09 a.m. CDT; updated 11:17 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Boone County Fire Protection District is undergoing some of the biggest changes it has encountered since its founding. When Steve Paulsell, then-fire chief for the district and the man who more or less built it from the ground up, announced his retirement in November amid controversy,  deputy chief Scott Olsen assumed the position temporarily in December.

Paulsell was accused of many wrongdoings toward the end of his career as fire chief. The board was able to procure a retirement deal with him, with the condition that the deal was not an admittance of liability by either party.

The Fire District plans to name a permanent fire chief by the end of 2009. To accomplish this goal, the board of directors hired a consulting firm, Emergency Services Consulting International, to help accept applications and weed out those unfit for the position. In addition the firm will be conducting an “assessment center” to evaluate candidates as they participate in various activities testing their ability to perform the tasks required of the fire chief.

Presently, the district is left with some big shoes to fill and a history of controversy from which it needs to distance itself. On July 7 the board discussed creating an interview panel, independent from the board, to support the process. Board members discussed who they would like to see on this board, including citizens of Boone County; a volunteer firefighter; a member of another public safety organization, such as the Sheriff’s Department or the Columbia Fire Department; and a local elected official.

Who should be included in the independent interview panel responsible for hiring the new Boone County Fire Protection District fire chief?


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