Fire chief semifinalists tackle tests

Staff Writer

Last update: 09 May 2003

PORT ORANGE -- A three-day series of exercises for 10 semifinalists for appointment to succeed Mike Ertz as the city's fire chief went well, in the view of Human Resources Director Mike Eggert.

"All 10 came and all participated in all of the exercises" conducted last week by a team of fire professionals assembled at city request by Jerry Knight, former St. Petersburg fire chief, Eggert said.

"The general impression is that all appeared enthusiastic about our assessment center process and, at the conclusion, enthusiastic about continuing to pursue appointment," he said.

Three finalists for consideration to replace Ertz, who's leaving at the end of the year upon completing 20 years of service, are expected to be named by City Manager Ken Parker next week, according to Eggert.

The assessment center process encompassed six exercises, all but one conducted by the team individually with each of the semifinalists, he said.

Foremost among the exercises was a fire emergency scenario in which each semifinalist was shown a picture of the scene of a structure fire.

The object was "to determine how each one would assess the situation and interact with a dispatch center on assignment of apparatus, personnel and other resources," Eggert said.

Other exercises involved an employee discipline scenario requiring interaction among a fire chief, a firefighter and a union representative, and a scenario involving a sexual harassment allegation.

Another exercise involved two leaderless groups of five, each assuming the role of a department head with a particular departmental need.

In that exercise, the goal was to determine, given the individual particular needs, "how to split available funding to meet the needs of each," Eggert said.

The final two exercises involved a test of individual writing skills and preparation and delivery of a presentation to the City Council.

All of the exercises were videotaped and are being reviewed in turn this week by several individuals, including City Manager Ken Parker, Eggert and Knight.

Paul Skinner, former Daytona Beach fire chief, and Joe Forte, Hilly Hill city manager and formerly that city's fire chief, are participating in the videotape review effort.

The three finalists Parker will select will be invited back to the city for further interviews.

The additional interviews will include separate ones with Fire Rescue Department administrators and online personnel, Eggert said.