Search for next fire chief continues

Harrison Township also hiring firefighters

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published July 26, 2019

 While the search for a new fire department chief continues, Harrison Township is also looking to hire a few more firefighter/paramedics.

While the search for a new fire department chief continues, Harrison Township is also looking to hire a few more firefighter/paramedics.

File photo by Julie Snyder


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Six months after the retirement of Mike Lopez, Harrison Township is getting close to finding its next fire chief.

Supervisor Ken Verkest said the township submitted an announcement for its search for a fire chief on multiple online job pages in March. The announcement produced 13 applicants.

“Of those, it appeared seven met the qualifications,” Verkest said.

Through a preliminary interview process, the field of candidates was narrowed to six.

Verkest said the six candidates were then turned over to Empco Inc., a Troy-based testing and consulting services firm that works with public safety departments and local governments for hiring purposes, for further assessment of their qualifications. Verkest said the township uses Empco for its civil service testing and selection for firefighters. Empco is being paid approximately $10,600.

The six candidates met with Empco personnel July 17 for a pre-assessment meeting, where each was given an assignment in preparation for a planned July 31 assessment. This portion of the evaluation will involve mock interviews and role playing with mock governmental meetings. Empco evaluators are either former fire officials or law enforcement personnel.

“The pool could be narrowed further after the July 31 assessment,” Verkest said, adding that two Harrison Township firefighters are in the pool. “They will give us the ranking or score for each candidate, and their own analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.”

He anticipates that a new chief will be hired by early September.

Verkest has taken on chief duties in an administrative manner since Lopez’s last day Feb. 1. Lopez’s starting salary in the township more than 10 years ago was $85,000. He left earning just over $90,000, Verkest said. He said the starting salary for the next chief will depend on experience and what fire chiefs in comparable communities are making.

He said fire personnel have also taken on additional duties, when applicable.

Matt Czarnecki, president of Harrison Township Firefighters Local 1737, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Verkest also said Harrison Township is currently hiring firefighters. He said the department is currently staffed at 23 — it traditionally has between 25 and 30 firefighters.

The Harrison Township Fire Department is ALS transport, which means its firefighters are also licensed paramedics.

“That’s great for the community, but it’s hard to find firefighters with those qualifications,” Verkest said. “That’s been part of the challenge.”

For more information about how to submit an application, call (586) 466-1400.