By George W. Davis
Special to the Beacon Journal
GREEN: The city will have a new fire chief no later than Dec. 13.
The selection, from among two candidates, can come anytime until that deadline, which the Civil Service Commission set in granting a 30-day extension to Mayor Dick Norton to fill the position after Capt. Randall Raines was offered the promotion but declined for personal reasons.
After lengthy discussion by the three-member commission, the decision was made that the original three-man list of potential chiefs would stand with Capt. Greg Morgan and Capt. Jeffrey Funai still eligible to be promoted.
The chief’s position has a salary range of $68,448 to $95,786, city Human Resources Manager Jeanne Greco said. Candidates had to hold the rank of captain for at least two years to be eligible for chief testing.
Norton, who is solely responsible for making the selection, said his appointment could come at any time.
He said the three candidates were the only ones who chose to go through the testing protocol. All passed and were recommended to Norton by the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association, which conducted the testing for the Civil Service Commission.
When Fire Chief Bob Calderone retired at the end of March, Assistant Chief Kevin Groen became acting chief. He chose not to seek the job full time, however, leaving the door open for Raines, Funai and Morgan as the only captains eligible to seek the position.
City Council earlier this year changed the commission’s hiring rules, stating that a list of three qualified candidates were to be submitted to the mayor, who then could choose any one of the three and not be limited to the top scorer.
Norton said Thursday that he offered the position to Raines, who declined acceptance without giving a reason other than it was a personal decision.
“The rules say we have to have people who are eligible, qualified and willing — the three important components,” Norton said Thursday. “As a result of that list and my interviews [of the three], I made an offer to one of the candidates, and he turned it down, which was a surprise.”
Norton said he needed a ruling from the Civil Service Commission as to whether he still had a valid list after Morgan withdrew, or would the commission have to go outside the department to again find a third candidate.
“The commission, after much discussion over several weeks, decided that the list will stand,” Norton said.
“We’re being cautious and we’re being thoughtful and very careful because we view — at least I view — that fire chief is a critical position in our organization.
“I’m sure over the next few weeks we will make a decision.”
Morgan has been with the department since 1983. He was a fire volunteer in Tallmadge from 1980 to 1983.
Funai joined the department in 1995 after working part time as a dispatcher and then fire medic at the Coventry Fire Department.
Raines joined the department in 1986 and previously was an EMT for Dunn-Quigley Funeral Home and a firefighter/EMT for two years in Munroe Falls.
George W. Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.