Germantown narrowing fire chief candidates

Commission asks for $10,000 to fly finalists in for interviews

Feb. 4, 2014

Germantown — With the application deadline having just closed, officials are in the process of determining who will take the reigns of the Germantown Fire Department.

Pat Adair, chair of the village Police and Fire Commission, came before the Village Board on Monday with an update on the recruitment process and a request that will require some maneuvering within the recently adopted 2014 municipal budget.

Forty-three applicants have applied to the village's open fire chief position, Adair said, and 27 of the interested persons live outside Wisconsin.

"The commission is looking to bring in four or five candidates for an interview and then may choose to bring two to three candidates back for a second interview," Adair said.

At Monday's meeting, Adair came before the board and requested authority to spend up to $10,000 to pay for airfare, lodging and other incidentals for fire professionals he and other commissioners consider the cream of the applicant crop.

First time in 20 years

"This is the first time we've had to go through this kind of process in more than 20 years," Adair said. "We're trying to do the best we can to get the best candidate possible. But we're not going to spend money just because it's there."

In the weeks ahead, Adair said he and other commissioners will begin weeding through the applications. He said he expects some of the people to be instantly removed from the candidate pool because of qualification issues.

After the initial round of reductions, Adair said the commission will conduct phone interviews and then begin the process of face-to-face interviews as the candidate pool draws into the single digits.

A firm decision on the $10,000 spending request has yet to be made. But the board did vote, 8-1, in favor of directing Adair to work with Village Administrator David Schornack and Finance Director/Treasurer Kim Rath and see if funds can be properly allocated toward the expense in the 2014 budget.

"I'm glad to hear we have a lot of candidates," Village President Dean Wolter said to Adair. "Until we have a decision (on the spending request), I encourage you to trim away and trim away until you get at that core group."

Why not use Skype?

With video conferencing technology readily accessible, Trustee Jeffrey Hughes, the sole dissenter, said he believed the village should consider other methods to conduct face-to-face interviews with finalists.

"You can use something like Skype, and that will cost us zero," Hughes said.

With the application deadline having passed, Adair said he anticipates the selection process to take about two months.

The selected candidate would succeed Gary Pollpeter, who retired from the fire department after 42 years of service.

Pollpeter began his career with the village at what was then known as the Germantown Volunteer Fire Company in 1971. When the village took over the department in 1990, Pollpeter was named fire chief. He held the role until his recent retirement.

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