Ferndale begins search for new fire chief

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 6, 2020

Jack Pesha

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FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale will be seeking a new fire chief for its Fire Department now that its current chief has announced his resignation.

Fire Chief Jack Pesha informed city officials that he will be resigning from his position next month. His last day on the job will be Nov. 21, after which he will be taking over as fire marshal for the city of Birmingham.

Having served within Ferndale for 21 years, Pesha previously took over as interim chief for the Fire Department in late 2018, and later was given the permanent job in September 2019.

Pesha said leaving was a hard decision to make.

“Everybody here is my friend and I know I’m their chief and everything, but I get along with everybody here and it’s a family life,” he said. “Coming through the ranks and making chief, but knowing most of the people I work with for a long time and some of the new people … I care about everybody here. I get along with everybody here inside the department and even the external departments at City Hall. It’s like a family. It was really tough to tell everybody I was going to leave, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

City Manager Joe Gacioch said Fire Marshal Dennis Barr will be the department’s interim chief after Pesha leaves and during the recruitment period, which Gacioch expected to be around 12-16 weeks. The salary range for the open position is $92,325-$115,301.

“It is my priority to identify the next fire chief in the recruitment process as soon as possible,” he said. “In the meantime, we do have numerous processes in place and that’s where Fire Marshal Barr comes in. He’s gonna step up and I have the utmost confidence that he is able to carry forward the priorities that Jack has laid out for the firehouse.”

The city has begun work in finding Pesha’s replacement. At the City Council’s Sept. 28 meeting, the council authorized an agreement with GovHR USA to conduct a “national search” to find the next chief. The cost of the agreement was an amount not to exceed $20,000.

“We have an annual budget allocated for recruitments, but you can never really anticipate something like this,” Gacioch said about where the money for the recruitment process comes from. “In this instance, when you have something unanticipated, we have an allocation already.”

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