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Wendy Reuer, Published February 09 2012

Four assistant fire chiefs vie for Moorhead job

MOORHEAD – Four assistant fire chiefs were interviewed for the department’s top spot here Thursday.

City Manager Michael Redlinger said the City Council will chose the next fire chief at its Monday meeting.

Finalists are: Assistant Fire Chief Greg Doeden, Fire Marshal and Interim Fire Chief Rich Duysen, Assistant Chief Rich Eggert and Assistant Chief Jeff Wallin.

Redlinger said the four candidates were interviewed by two committees Thursday in closed session – a committee comprising Redlinger as well as Fargo and West Fargo fire staff and a second group that included Mayor Mark Voxland along with council members Brenda Elmer and Mark Hintermeyer.

The fire department has been without a chief since Joel Hewitt resigned in January 2011. Hewitt was put on paid administrative leave in August 2010 during an internal investigation of official misconduct.

Hewitt denied allegations he leaked protected information, as well as claims that he solicited women.

The city initially sought both internal and external candidates to fill the chief position. After a lengthy budget discussion last fall, the council approved reorganizing fire department management and seeking an internal chief candidate to save about $82,000 from the 2012 city budget.

Hewitt’s salary was about $86,000.

The department had been structured to have a chief, a fire marshal, three assistant chiefs, a training assistant chief and three lieutenants. The realignment of the department is expected after a new chief is named, Voxland said.

Voxland said Thursday night that despite seeking candidates internally, finalists seemed well suited for the job. “I really felt – and the other two council members agreed – that any one of the four would be an excellent fire chief.”

Redlinger will make the final candidate recommendation and present that name to the council for approval on Monday.

The new chief will take his post next week, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530