The city of McMinnville is nearing the end of its search for a new fire chief. According to city administrator David Rutherford, an announcement of who will be picked from a field of three finalists should be made next week.
“We have completed the interviews and we are in the process now of doing all the reference and background checks,” Rutherford said. “I’m hoping we’ll be able to do something by the first of the week
The new official will be chosen from a field of 70 candidates from around the country. Out of that wide field, only one or two were from Tennessee, Rutherford said. The group was narrowed down considerably before the finalists were invited for a personal interview.
“We took it down to three who we did phone interviews with,” Rutherford said. “Then all three of those were asked to come in for an interview, and two did.”
Rutherford is responsible for the interviews and the hiring, but has kept aldermen informed of the progress.
“The aldermen have been provided the materials, résumés and information, but they have not participated in the interviews,” Rutherford said.
However, Rutherford did put together a capable team of both officials and city employees to be a part of the process. That team consisted of McMinnville Police Chief, and interim fire chief, Bryan Denton, human resource administrator Jennifer Rigsby, and city recorder Shirley Durham.
Rutherford also included a fireman from each shift to participate the interview process. Those were Capt. Kendall Mayfield, Lt. Trevor Gribble and Lt. Jamie Brown.
The city employed a wide-ranging advertising campaign to bring in the 70 candidates. The job was posted in Tennessee Town and City, published by the Tennessee Municipal League, the National Fire Chief’s website, and on a list of 1,200 firefighting professionals in Tennessee provided by a link found at the Municipal Technical Advisory Service website.
Rutherford said the team was pleased with the quality of the applicants in general. A specific formula was used for narrowing the field.
“First of all, we were surprised we didn’t have more from Tennessee,” Rutherford said. “So what we tried to do was find someone who we thought, looking at the resumes, would bring to us what we wanted in a fire chief. That would bring the vast experience, great qualifications and the ability to do some management building skills, training, all kinds of things dealing with all those issues.
“When we went through the 70, had three who looked really good, and they said let’s talk to these,” Rutherford said, noting the group then chose five more applicants as a backup set if things didn’t work out with the first choices. “We tried to get someone whose personality and cultural background would fit with our community.
“I think we had a pretty good process on that,” Rutherford continued. “And I think everybody’s going to be pleased when the announcement’s made.”
Rutherford said the choice has essentially been made, but there are still some things to be done.
“We still have to contact the chosen candidate and go over a few things with him,” Rutherford said. “See if he’s still ready to come and work out the salary and things like that. I don’t want to announce a name and then not be able to work it out. But once that’s done, we’ll be ready to go.”