To the editor:
I was one of the citizen volunteers on the Gloucester Fire Chief Search Committee. This is a letter to you that I gave to the City Council at the meeting of May 22 during oral communications.
In addition to my letter, for the record, five candidates went through MRI's Fire Chief Assessment Center held at the AGH. It was an all-day process with written examination, tactical exercises, superior/subordinate exercise, leaderless group exercise and oral presentation.
Eric Smith had the highest combined numerical score of 467.83 out of 560 — for a total percentage score of 84 percent.
As a citizen volunteer of the Fire Chief Search Committee, at the request of the mayor and by virtue of the City of Gloucester Code of Ordinances, I appreciate the opportunity to have been a part of such an important process.
The Gloucester City Council's approval to take the Fire Chief position out of civil service allowed for a nationwide search for the best candidate for the City of Gloucester.
The city of Gloucester Code of Ordinances lays out a specific process by which committees must conduct their searches and was implemented to ensure that all eligible candidates were given the opportunity to apply and be considered for positions within our city.
The Fire Chief Search Committee met these conditions and returned the top three candidates to Mayor Kirk for consideration. It has been a long and eye-opening experience.
For the record, I stand 100 percent behind Mayor Kirk's selection of Deputy Fire Chief Eric Smith for the new permanent fire chief for the city of Gloucester.
In my opinion, his qualifications, experience and military service to our country make him the most desirable candidate to lead our Fire Department.
The professionalism with which he conducted himself through this lengthy selection process proved to me that looking beyond our borders was the correct approach.
It is time that we embrace the recent changes that have enabled our city to move forward with new ideas and new eyes to support our Fire Department. It is time to make an investment in this department with all of the tools, advanced training and innovative technologies available to us, up to and including permanent progressive leadership.
After careful consideration, Deputy Fire Chief Eric Smith, an experienced leader, veteran and licensed paramedic gets my firm support.
I ask you to please take the time, as I did, to get to know Deputy Fire Chief Eric Smith. Please make the effort to speak with him, once you do.
I believe you will agree that he is the best choice for the citizens, department, firefighters and for the position of fire chief in the city of Gloucester."
Russell S. Hobbs