The City Parker interviews top five candidates for open Fire Chief position

Bay County

PARKER Fla. (WMBB) — The City of Parker is one step closer to naming a new fire chief, after terminating their former chief in June.

Tuesday, the City Council conducted interviews for their finalists to help decide who has what it takes to lead this department.

The city started with 29 applicants for the job, and now they have narrowed it down to five. 

Each of the candidates has the basic qualifications for the position but Mayor Andrew Kelly said they are searching for specific qualities. 

“What I’m looking for is a well-qualified person that’s strong, healthy, educated, and will do this job and not let the city down,” Kelly said. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, each of the five candidates answered questions from the council. Mayor Kelly served as the fire chief for 28 years. He said he knows what it takes and is looking for that in these people.

“I was looking for someone who can perform all of the duties and tasks that I know this job requires,” Kelly said. 

One of the candidates, Wiston “Pete” Russ Jr., currently lives in Bay County. The other four, Matthew Jensen, Erich Higgins, Thomas Moran, and Andrew Mosley, live outside. All of them are qualified for the job. However, the council wants to make sure they know what they are getting into and will accept all it has to offer.

“I think that you have an individual that is completely and totally dedicated to The City of Parker that they realize when they come to work here that they are not a very wealthy city,” Kelly said. “They’ve got to be able to accept the salary that we offer.”

Kelly said the fire chief will typically work a 60 hour week. They will be in charge of supervising the three paid firemen as well as the 17 volunteers. 

The council wanted to make sure they have experience working with a volunteer department, they are prepared for long hours and working alone. 

They want to hire a person who plans to stay for a long time and will not just leave when another opportunity arises and they are looking into each candidate’s experience working with medical calls as that will be a big part of the job. 

“There have been slightly less than 1000 calls since the storm with the responses here in Parker we have experienced around 850 medical calls,” Kelly said. 

The city has called a special meeting for this Friday at 9 a.m. where they will announce their choice for the new chief.

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