Largo Fire Rescue Fails to Pick Fire Chief From Current Applicants, Begins Second Recruitment Process

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Largo Fire Rescue Fails to Pick Fire Chief From Current Applicants, Begins Second Recruitment Process

Largo City Manager Henry Schubert announced that a nationwide search for a new fire chief ended with no candidates being selected.

The search commenced in March after Chief Shelby Wiliis resigned after accepting a job in Utah.

The final phase of the Fire Chief recruitment process was conducted last week on Thursday and Friday, June 7 and 8.

The process included a fire station tour on Thursday followed by a meet and great in the evening open to City staff, the City Commission, and the public. Interviews were conducted on Friday by three separate teams representing Executive Leadership (City Manager, Assistant City Manager, Human Resources Director, and Executive Recruiter), Fire Department management (District, Assistant, and Division Chiefs), and a group consisting of Firefighter EMT’s and Paramedics, and Lieutenants, who were selected by management and the union.

Schubert released a memo stating, “While I as the City Manager have the charter responsibility to hire department directors, I value a diversity of input to ensure that I make the best possible selection.”  “The Fire Chief has many roles, including not just leadership of the Fire Rescue Department, but also as a member of the City’s Executive Leadership Team and the representative of the department in interactions with the City Commission, other Fire professionals within Pinellas County, and the public. It is particularly vital that the Chief have the respect and support of our Fire Department personnel.”

The city received a total of 60 applications for the position, of which 14 met the advertised minimum qualifications. Five applicants were selected for interviews, with two removing themselves from the process prior to the interviews. The three interviewed candidates included two externals and one internal. All three had the qualifications to perform the job.

The interview process did not result in a clear choice for the position.  After conducting additional research on the candidates and giving the decision much thought, City Manager Schubert decided to not make a selection from the current candidate pool.

A second recruitment is scheduled to restart this month. Schubert said, “While this is a disappointing result, it is neither unusual nor without precedent. I am committed to making the best possible choice for our next Fire Chief.”

Deputy Chief Pennino will continue to serve as the Interim Fire Chief. Schubert expressed his confidence in Pennino’s ability to continue providing leadership to the Department during this period.

Schubert thanked all the participants in this process saying the following, “I continue to be impressed by the professionalism and quality of the men and women who serve this community at all levels within our Fire Rescue Department.”

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