By Steven Fletcher
Residents at Gloucester's listening posts in the search for a new fire chief to date have told search committee members they want a chief who knows the city as they do.
The Fire Chief Search Committee has held two listening posts and will host another Saturday at City Hall to gain residents' input as part of the search process.
What residents say at these meetings will frame how the committee and search firm Municipal Resources Incorporated (MRI), an auditing company based in New Hampshire, will sift through resumes for the position.
The city's final such listening post is set to run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tomorrow in City Hall's Kyrouz Auditorium.
Personnel Director and local Search Committee Chairman David Bain said the listening posts are for residents to come and tell the committee what they'd like to see in the next fire chief. So far, committee members said, residents have told them they want a chief who knows Gloucester.
This search marks the first time the city has conducted a search without the constraints of civil service regulations, and with the option of fielding applications from candidates outside of the department and outside of Gloucester.
But residents at the sessions, said Tom LoGrande, a committee member and vice president of the firefighters union, have emphasized they want someone who's familiar with the area and knows the local landmarks.
City Council president Jackie Hardy, also a search committee member, said residents have expressed that they want a chief who knows the community and would be a presence in the city.
While the city's been holding the listening sessions, MRI has been accepting resumes for the position.
As of Thursday, Bain said, MRI had received around 20 applications, but the committee won't know theexact number until the application deadline closes next Tuesday.
After the deadline, MRI will winnow down the applications for the search committee, with an eye toward steering up to seven candidates into an "assessment center" that will include open and public interviews.
"I think we'll do fairly well with this," Bain said.
Ultimately the committee will settle on the best possible candidates before forwarding up to three finalists to the mayor's office. Its decisions, he said, will try to take into account what residents said at the listening posts.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.