SHERIDAN — The Fire Civil Service commission anticipates hiring a chief for the Sheridan Fire-Rescue Department by the end of September.
Gary Harnish has been serving as interim fire chief since the beginning of June, and the commission decided to advertise the open position internally.
Only active firefighters employed by the Sheridan Fire-Rescue Department will be able to apply.
“I feel like personally we have several qualified candidates to lead this department,” Harnish said.
Harnish said those several qualified candidates within the department worked toward education and many have close to 20 years experience with the department.
Sheridan City Councilor Thayer Shafer and commission chairman and city council candidate Aaron Linden both agreed the hiring outreach should remain internal.
“If that’s the case, I think we ought to keep it local,” Shafer said in reference to applicable experience within the department.
“It’s good for morale within the department, too, I think, and in the community; I think they’d support it.”
Linden said he thinks SFRD has a rich enough talent pool and it would not be necessary to reach outside of the current department.
City of Sheridan attorney Brandon Kerns explained that in the Wyoming State Statute and Fire Civil Service Rules, it allows for the commission to restrict the hiring process to internal candidates only.
Advertising will be much less expensive than opening hiring locally, statewide or nationally. The application will be open for a little over a week to SFRD employees. Following receipt of applications, city of Sheridan human resources director Heather Doke suggested a consulting firm — Peak Consulting of Sheridan — to create materials needed and facilitate the process.
The competitive examination, or process candidates must participate in to be eligible for the position, is not defined by state statute. Kerns wrote in his review of the statute that the meaning of competitive requires a fair, unbiased and not predetermined examination for all applicants.
The examination requirements per state statute include only people 75 percent or more proficient to be eligible for employment.
City administrators are required by statute to not be involved in the method of recruiting candidates, standards being applied to candidates, recruiting and hiring of any consultants to the commission to aid in fulfilling, the testing, assessment and examination processes to be used, the scoring of the tests and tabulation of final scores and any applicant interviews that is part of the testing process.
Doke suggested the testing process be segregated into three parts: an interview with a panel of fire chiefs, an interview with a panel of community members and people in daily working relationships with the chief, and a written exercise to be evaluated on content, writing skills, spelling, punctuation and grammar.
All three parts will be scored and averaged by Peak Consulting, and candidates who achieve an average of 75 percent will be placed on an eligibility list for the commission to approve.
City administration may conduct their own interviews, but they cannot be a part of the testing process.
The commission decided to open the application process Friday and will close the application by Sept. 10.
“The possible applicants within our department that are qualified, it would probably take them just a few minutes to revise from the last time in June,” Harnish said. “As soon as I see the letter advertising it, I will contact department-wide and let everybody know it’s out there. That way nobody’s going to be surprised if they come back to work on the ninth.”
Doke asked the commission to suggest people to Peak Consulting for the panels who would be appropriate to be a part of the hiring process.