PORTLAND – A fresh batch of more than 50 applicants have submitted resumes to become the city’s next fire chief.

This is the second time the city has opened a nationwide search to find someone to replace Fred LaMontagne, who retired in the spring.

The city opened its first search this spring. Fifty-five people applied and the field was whittled down to five finalists.

The city was on the verge of offering the job to one of those candidates, but he withdrew his application.

The city decided to reopen the search, rather than offer the job to another finalist.

Michael Miles, the city’s human resource director, said 52 people sent in applications this time around by the Friday deadline.

Miles would not say whether any of the previous finalists re-applied.

Miles said the selection process will be the same as before. His office will begin by conducting telephone pre-interviews with the top candidates.

“There is no set number, though more than 10 is unwieldy,” Miles said in an email.

Several semifinalists will be selected and will visit the city for in-person interviews over the course of two days.

The first day will be spent with two interview panels — one comprised of city staff, EMS and fire officials and the other a panel of community members.

The second day will be spent in an assessment center, where they will be tested on their reactions to certain scenarios.

City Manager Mark Rees will make the final hiring decision.

Miles is encouraged by the field of candidates this time around.

“My initial review of the 52 applications in hand shows several candidates who I believe might be a match for the City of Portland,” he said. “We will be working very hard to identify those candidates, interview them, cultivate their interest and bring this process to a conclusion.”

The first search cost the city $20,000, including $7,500 in travel expenses to bring the candidates to Portland.

The second round is expected to cost at least $8,500, city officials have said.

The city’s next fire chief will oversee a department of nearly 250 employees and a $16 million annual budget.

Portland has 66,000 residents, and its population swells to about 150,000 during the workday.

The budget earmarks $99,770 for the chief and $385,000 for five deputy chiefs.

In addition to running day-to-day operations of the fire and EMS departments, the priorities for the new chief will be working to increase the diversity and cultural awareness of the work force, and finding operational efficiencies.

The chief also will be expected to improve the image of a department that has been battered by two high-profile accidents involving the city’s $3.2 million fireboat.

 

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @randybillings