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Committee to find new fire chief

Andy Ouriel • Mar 2, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Sandusky officials offered up their blueprint for how they’ll find a new fire chief.

City commissioner Naomi Twine volunteered to lead a committee charged with locating a replacement for Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci. Former ex officio mayor Dan Kaman and former city commissioner Dave Waddington will also serve on the committee.

In late January, Ricci announced plans to retire in October.

City officials wanted to find Ricci’s successor at least a couple months before the 32-year firefighter calls it quits. Ricci aims to help the new fire chief transition into the job before he leaves.

Committee members will sift through applications, interview qualified candidates and hand off their top choices to the city manager. The city manager then will choose the next fire chief based upon recommendations from committee members.

The next chief must help fire operations prosper in the near future while simultaneously deal with reduced staff and services.

Recent budget challenges forced commissioners to eliminate four fulltime firefighter positions, a reduction from 53 today to 49 by May. Plus commissioners also decreased the department’s overtime, training and funding for physicals.

Twine answered several questions about the process and position, taking home almost $95,000 in pay during 2013:

Q: Why did you want to lead the process to select Sandusky’s next fire chief?

NT: I wanted to be a part of the process to select someone who is a good leader, is innovative and can adjust and manage through challenging and changing times.

Q: You served on the city’s human relations commission, which handled disputes city residents voiced about Sandusky employees and services. You’re also a longtime administrator at the Ohio Veterans Home. How can these backgrounds help you succeed in this committee?

NT: As former chairwoman of the human relations commission, I had the opportunity to work with the fire chief and the chief of police on issues and matters brought before the (commission).

My experience with leading a group, being able to clearly acknowledge and listen to different viewpoints, work through disputes, mediate differences of opinions and build a consensus, as well as my experiences in human resources and government administration, makes me a good fit to head the fire chief selection process.

Q: How important is the fire chief’s position?

NT: Given the grueling budget process this commission just came out of, we all know that the firefighters are not pleased with how they fared in the final outcome. Having a fire chief to manage those types of issues and being able to offer innovative and collaborative ideas and efforts will go a long way in determining how Sandusky approaches fire safety services in the future.

Q: You agreed to let two former city commissioners, Dan Kaman and Dave Waddington, to serve on this committee. Why did you agree to this?

NT: I like to have as much information as possible in the decisionmaking process. I also like to have differing and opposite points of view. In addition to having a civil service representative, a city resident with a union background, Chris Sims, and former commissioners with knowledge of past issues, challenges and successes gives the selection committee a level of diversity and balance, which will help us choose the best candidates for what we need as we move safety services forward in Sandusky.

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