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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Port Orange Fla--Hunt for Fire Chief Narrows to 4

    Port Orange narrows fire chief field to 4 finalists

    By JOHN WISNIEWSKI
    Staff Writer

    Last update: 30 May 2003


    PORT ORANGE -- Four finalists for the post of fire chief have been named by City Manager Ken Parker, one more than initially anticipated.

    The finalists include Thomas Weber, Manchester, Conn., fire chief and director of emergency services, and Gary Weiss, Destin, a former fire district deputy chief and now an emergency services consultant.

    Ponce Inlet Fire Chief Chris Phelps and Patrick Kelly, Westchester County, N.Y., commissioner of emergency services, also are among the finalists.

    Phelps and Kelly, Parker said in an interview earlier this week, were "rated virtually the same" during a screening process, which led to his decision to name four finalists instead of three.

    All four have agreed to visit the city for a three-day round of interviews beginning June 8, to conclude with a "Meet the Community" session June 10 at Riverside Pavillon, according to Parker.

    Parker, though, also said that despite the extensive, nearly six-month old selection process to find a replacement for Mike Ertz, who's retiring in December, there's no guarantee that one of the four will be the city's next fire chief.

    "We want the best, and if it comes to it, I'm not afraid to decide that we may not have found the best -- and if that proves to be the case, I'm not afraid to not hire and then re-advertise the position," Parker said.

    Meanwhile, Dana Carter, current Fire Rescue Department operations chief, is among six other former semifinalists no longer being considered to succeed Ertz.

    Carter's elimination prompted Firefighter/Paramedic Fred Price to e-mail Parker expressing disappointment because many department members feel Carter "would have been a very good fire chief."

    In response, Parker noted Carter has served the city and the department well for more than 20 years, but his elimination was decided by an assessment team, on which the city manager was not a member.

    At Parker's request, the assessment team was assembled by Jerry Knight, former St. Petersburg fire chief, and conducted a series of six exercises individually with the 10 semifinalists.

    The June 8-10 interviews with the four finalists will be conducted by several separate panels, including ones comprised of city managers, department heads and Fire Rescue Department personnel, Parker said.

    Howard Tipton, former Daytona Beach city manager, is among those being asked to serve on the managers panel, he added.

    john.wisniewski@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post 1 Finalist Disqualified

    Fire chief finalist DQ'd

    By JOHN WISNIEWSKI
    Staff Writer

    Last update: 06 June 2003


    PORT ORANGE -- Gary Weiss, one of four finalists for the post of fire chief has been disqualified based on discovery of "a misleading answer" on a city questionnaire.

    Weiss, according to City Manager Ken Parker, answered "a flat 'No.' " to a question asking applicants if they had ever been terminated for cause or requested to resign.

    During a preliminary background check on the four finalists, a newspaper article was found indicating Weiss, now an emergency services consultant, was forced to resign from a previous post.

    The article indicated Weiss resigned as deputy chief of the South Walton County Fire District in the Panhandle amid allegations he obtained "a fraudulent paramedic's license," Parker said.

    In addition, Parker added, the article indicated Weiss subsequently agreed to relinquish state certification as a paramedic "to avoid possible fines and penalties."

    In an e-mail response, Weiss maintained if the city had all the information it would find "it was a unique situation" and that the newspaper article was incorrect.

    "I was not asked to resign or forced. I made the decision not to fight the state and I made the decision to resign . . . in no way was I trying to hide something," Weiss insisted.

    The three finalists are Patrick Kelly, Westchester County, N.Y. emergency services commissioner, Ponce Inlet Fire Chief Chris Phelps and Thomas Weber, Manchester, Conn. emergency services director.

    The city will host the three at a dinner set for 6 p.m. Sunday at Aunt Catfish's restaurant, to which members of the City Council have been invited, Parker said.

    They will be interviewed separately on Monday and Tuesday by groups encompassing Fire Rescue Department personnel, city department heads and local city managers.

    City residents can meet the finalists at a community forum Tuesday night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Riverside Pavilion, 3431 Ridgewood Ave.

    Parker said he anticipates making a decision by the end of the month as to who will succeed Fire Chief Mike Ertz, who's retiring at the end of the year.

    Meanwhile, at this week's City Council meeting, the council by consensus agreed to move forward on a regional fire administration proposal submitted by Parker. Views initially will be sought from New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater, the city's partners in the joint emergency dispatch agency.

    john.wisniewski@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  3. #3
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Selection Process Completed

    Port Orange hires new fire chief

    By JOHN WISNIEWSKI
    Staff Writer

    Last update: 21 July 2003


    PORT ORANGE -- Tom Weber, the city's new fire chief from Manchester, Conn., is expected to start work Sept. 15, according to City Manager Ken Parker.

    The selection of Weber caps a near-eight month search for a replacement for Mike Ertz, who's retiring at the end of the year.

    Although he's been in Manchester for the past six years, before that Weber worked with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue for 17 years, where he attained the rank of battalion chief/operations.

    "Ecstatic -- it's just the perfect opportunity, and came even before one was anticipated," Weber said in a telephone interview of his selection by Parker and resultant return to Florida.

    Nationwide advertising of the post late last year produced a list of 61 applicants, which Parker subsequently trimmed to 25 to 17 to 10 semifinalists and then to three finalists.

    The other two finalists for the post were Patrick Kelly, commissioner of emergency services for Westchester County, N.Y., and Ponce Inlet Fire Chief Chris Phelps.

    In what Human Resources Director Mike Eggert said illustrated the importance of finding the best possible replacement for Ertz, all 10 semifinalists were brought here at city expense.

    The semifinalists were subjected to three days of videotaped interviews and situational testing sessions and a city-sponsored, "meet the public" forum.

    "It was the most intense process I've ever seen by far and I've been involved in several on both sides," either seeking to hire or seeking to be hired, Weber said.

    "The city's goal was to be absolutely sure the right person was found and the process worked so well, I had the opportunity to be sure I found absolutely the right community to serve," he said.

    Weber earned a bachelor's degree in human resources management at Barry University, Miami and a master's degree in public administration at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.


    A starting salary of $81,000 has been set for Weber, who's also a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program.

    A salary range of $65,000 to $85,000 had been advertised for the post. Ertz, who is completing his 20th year as the city's fire chief, is paid $79,352.

    Parker said it took courage for the semifinalists to participate in the extensive screening process and he believes Weber proved to be "the best individual" to serve as the city's fire chief.

    john.wisniewski@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  4. #4
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post New Fire Chief Begins his duties

    Weber takes over as Port Orange fire chief

    By JOHN WISNIEWSKI
    Staff Writer

    Last update: 02 January 2004


    PORT ORANGE -- Tom Weber, the city's new fire chief, says the post he officially assumed Thursday reflects the more than 25 years he spent working toward just such an opportunity.

    "It's one I believe all of my experience and desire prepared me for, and one I felt confident about from the start," Weber, 47, said of his selection from among 61 candidates for the post.

    As one of 10 semifinalists, Weber went through a three-day, six-exercise process and, as one of three finalists, three more days of interviews by city administrators and fire/rescue personnel.

    Weber replaces Mike Ertz, who retired Dec. 31, but he's been on duty since Sept. 15, along the way taking over responsibility for the Fire/Rescue Department budget Oct. 1 and personnel administration Dec. 1.

    Unlike Port Orange, Weber said, "most organizations don't have the foresight to put something like that (an extended settling-in period) into place, but here it made for a very smooth transition."

    Although Weber was born in New Jersey, he grew up in South Florida and began his fire service career in 1977 with the Sunrise Fire Department.

    He served with the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department from 1979 until 1997, after which he served as fire chief and director of emergency services in Manchester, Conn. until coming to Port Orange.

    Upon arrival here, Weber said he found a department already comprised of "an excellent group of people who are really interested in and really like what they're doing."

    All that's needed now, the chief said, "is to bring everyone together as a team," one that will mirror what he conceded is a somewhat unusual management philosophy.

    "Usually, there's division between labor and management, but I believe in a full, cooperative effort of labor and management to run the department," Weber said.

    "It's great," he added, "to find an organization willing to do that, because you have a much better department when all are working together."

    As it turns out, Weber becomes the city's fire chief just as Frank Bruno, Volusia County Council chairman, has called for unifying the county and its 16 municipalities into a single fire district.

    Such an effort, Weber said, will present "a challenge to fire service in general to work together to achieve the best level of service for all."

    The city, meanwhile, will mark Weber's appointment as fire chief with a ceremony set for 3 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Allen Green Civic Center.

    john.wisniewski@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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