By: Tom Duggan – July 18, 2014
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera has begun the process of finding a permanent fire chief to lead the Lawrence Fire Department.
Rivera named the members of what he calls his “Fire Chief Search Committee”, and says he has began the first stages of the search process this week. The function of the committee is not to pour through the applications and make recommendations based on who applies as most search committees have in the past. Rather, Rivera wants this committee to recruit candidates for the position sending a clear signal that he is looking outside the department for new leadership.
Due to a move by former mayor Willie Lantigua, the fire chief’s position is no longer covered under civil service protection and Rivera does not need to look within the department to appoint a new chief.
Lantigua removed the job from civil service by petitioning the legislature (with support of the city council) in 2011 to target (then) Fire Chief Brian Murphy who had blown the whistle on what he called a “critically dangerous levels of fire protection” as the result of Lantigua laying off 24 firefighters. (STORY)
Mayor Rivera, a city councilor at the time, supported Lantigua’s efforts to remove Murphy, but Murphy resigned before Lantigua had the chance. Lantigua appointed Jack Bergeron as acting chief who retired two years later. Rivera named Captain John Walsh as acting chief this year during his first week in office.
Rivera’s new Fire Chief Search Committee is made up of nine members, including residents and city officials that he says will play a key role in the process to conduct a search for the next Lawrence Fire Chief.
“They will be responsible for recruiting the most impressive candidates, and narrowing down the selection. The end result will be a Fire Chief that is qualified and committed to the safety of our city and its residents.”
Rivera says the search committee kicked off their effort with a meeting this week to outline a process and timeline for their work. This included reviewing the City Ordinance related to the Fire Chief and the duties associated with the position, developing a strategy to recruit a robust pool of candidates, and determining clear evaluation criteria by which to rate candidates. In addition, the Committee will consider holding a forum at a later stage in the process so that the public has an opportunity to question the final candidates and weigh in on the process.
The Mayor says he anticipates a four to six month process to recruit and hire the next Fire Chief to Lawrence.
The committee members are listed below:
Council President Modesto Maldonado
Lisa Torrisi, Chief of Staff
Mark Ianello, Finance Director
Frank Bonet, Personnel Director and Resident
Richard Shaffer, Former Lawrence Fire Chief and Resident
Manny Gonzalez, Lawrence Firefighter and Resident
Lesly Medina, Resident
Tom Murphy, Resident
Cesar Camargo, Business Owner and Resident