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Voorhees moving along in fire chief search

Jan. 15, 2013

The City of Waukesha has been operating under an interim fire chief since Allen LaConte retired last March.

With Voorhees Associates accepting applications for the position, the city should have a new fire chief in less than two months.

Despite many of its members being reluctant to pay for a search firm, the Common Council gave the go-ahead at a meeting in November.

Assistant Fire Chief Steve Howard has been serving as the interim fire chief.

Some Common Council members said they didn't want to fund money for a search since there are many qualified internal candidates.

Others said a firm allows them to be most transparent and will allow the Police and Fire Commission to find the best candidate.

Shortly after, Voorhees Associates, based in Deerfield, Ill., began advertising for LaConte's replacement after developing a recruitment brochure that was approved by the Waukesha Police and Fire Commission.

According to Voorhees' website, interested candidates can submit their résumé and cover letter, plus five references, by Jan. 25.

The starting salary is $110,000 and the chief is responsible for an organization of 106 members that includes firefighters/paramedics, equipment operators, fire inspection personnel, administrative support and command staff. The department has a budget of $12.3 million.

The chief is under the authority of the mayor and reports to the city administrator and oversees the provision of fire suppression, emergency medical services,hazardous materials handling, fire prevention/public education and fire investigation services.

Voorhees Associates Vice President Mark J. Morien, who is conducting the search, said he anticipates the candidate list to be around a dozen. Voorhees will meet with the commission Feb. 25 to select candidates to interview.

During the week of March 4, the Police and Fire Commission will conduct first and second round interviews and could select the city's next fire chief.

Voorhees helped the city select its last two city administrators, Ed Henschel in 2012 and Lori Luther in 2008.

Voorhees also conducted a search that selected Police Chief Russell Jack in 2009 (Morien said he helped in that search). Heidi Voorhees worked with the city when choosing Director of Public Works Fred Abadi in 2008 and Allen LaConte as the city's fire chief in 2001.

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