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Township commences search for new fire chief

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 29, 2019

 Harrison Township officials have hired the Troy-based corporation Empco to aid in their effort to find a new fire chief.

Harrison Township officials have hired the Troy-based corporation Empco to aid in their effort to find a new fire chief.

File photo by Julie Snyder

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The search is on for the next Harrison Township fire chief.

On March 25, the Harrison Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously to hire Empco to assist in finding “the best chief possible.”

“We’re going to look at internal and external candidates in an attempt to find what we hope to be the best chief possible,” said Ken Verkest, Harrison Township supervisor. “We’re going to do our best to let everybody know we’re hiring a chief.”

Empco, based in Troy, will be paid an estimated $9,000 to take on the task.

Harrison Township Clerk Adam Wit said that if more than five candidates apply, the cost would exceed $9,000. Thus, an amendment was added to the proposal indicating that if there are more than five candidates applying, any additional expenses will be signed off and brought before the board after the fact.

On its website, Empco states that it offers a variety of entry-level and promotional examination services for positions in the public services. Those services include written exams, oral interviews and assessment centers.

Verkest said the township uses Empco for its civil service testing and selection for firefighters.

Verkest, who has taken on chief duties in an administrative manner since former Fire Chief Mike Lopez’s last day on Feb. 1, said he hopes a suitable replacement is found as soon as possible.

“There is a list of qualifications necessary to apply for the fire chief position,” he said. “If any of the three active battalion chiefs (in Harrison Township) wish to apply, they don’t have to meet those qualifications; they are eligible to apply. Outside candidates have to meet the qualifications.”

Lopez’s starting salary in the township 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.