JCFD chief search attracts three times more applicants than 2010

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – With exactly two weeks before Johnson City’s embattled fire chief retires, city management is still narrowing down its list of people to succeed him.

The city has three times as many people to choose from this time compared to when it hired outgoing Fire Chief Mark Scott. Human Resources Director Steve Willis said 99 people from 26 states applied for the job, compared to just 31 in 2010. He attributes part of the increase on the fact that the city paid a little extra to advertise the job with the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

“The intent from the outset was to cast a wide net to attract the brightest and best,” Willis said.

Willis said the city has since narrowed down the list of finalists to 13 with the hope of hiring a new chief by July 1. All of the finalists are from outside the department, he said. One is from the area.

“It was clear from that (fire department task force) that we needed a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective,” Willis said.

Johnson City started its fire chief search in March, laying out high expectations for the next leader. The job posting said the city was seeking a strong, decisive, positive, effective and impartial leader without outstanding interpersonal skills and strong management and organizational skills.

Firefighters called many of those characteristics into question over the last year-plus, first in an internal investigation, then in an employee survey and finally through a task force, all of which preceded the chief’s decision to retire.

The 2010 job posting on the other hand was straightforward and more technical in its language, with no mention of words like ethics, integrity and accountability.

“We’re looking for the next leader for our fire department that can bring everyone together and have everyone pulling in the same direction around a common goal and vision for the department,” he said.

Willis said the finalists are mostly form the Southeast and Midwest.

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