(The following was Arcata Fire Protection District.)
Last Wednesday, March 20, the Arcata Fire Protection District Board of Directors announced that its search for a new fire chief had been concluded. Regretfully, the brief press release issued by the board may have been misinterpreted by the community.
When the search for a new fire chief began, the Board of Directors committed to a full, modern hiring process that would have concluded with a final interview of at least two qualified candidates.
There have been two attempts to reach the final interview and in both cases the two finalists included a candidate from outside the agency and the internal candidate, Assistant Chief Desmond Cowan.
Board President John Davis said, “At this time, the Board has not been able to conduct final interviews and therefore the process has been deemed incomplete.”
Director Steve Tyler said, “The process of hiring a Fire Chief, while being a matter of public interest, is still a personnel matter. As such, we (the Board) are governed by laws that preclude us from divulging information about these candidates or about certain details of the process.”
According to Asst. Chief Cowan, “I am pleased to be a part of this process and I look forward to competing against other qualified candidates in the coming months. I understand it’s been a long process, but we need to do this properly for the community’s best interest. We have a great team and we are not going to let this short delay hold us back.”
Davis went on to say, “The Board’s goal is to interview two or three final candidates and to select the Fire Chief from those top finalists. We have encouraged Assistant Chief Cowan to apply as he is still a highly qualified candidate. As a Board, we have a plan in place for the long term future of the District. This includes contingency planning for the hiring process along with our current strategic planning efforts.”
Justin McDonald has been asked by the Board to continue in his current position of Interim Fire Chief. “This may be a minor setback for the organization and the community, but rest assured that the daily operations of the Fire District will still continue to meet our mission,” said McDonald.
The Board will have more information in the coming weeks as the plan for the new search is being finalized with the recruiting agency.