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Over 40 apply to be Mich. fire chief

The Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department fire chief will oversee operations across three townships


Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority/Facebook

By Elizabeth Brewer
The Record-Eagle

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The search for a third Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department Chief attracted 44 prospective candidates, an “incredible response” and “an amazing pool,” the chief recruiter said.

The application portal for the position officially closed after four weeks, according to Amy Cell, chief matchmaker of Amy Cell Talent out of Ypsilanti.

In that time, 44 applications were received, including some from Grand Traverse County. Of that total, more than 20 will be considered, she said.

Cell, who declined to provide specifics about the applicants at this point in the process, was retained by the fire chief search committee, which consists of township supervisors from the three townships that rely on Metro firefighters. They include: Garfield Township Supervisor Chuck Korn, Acme Township Supervisor Doug White and East Bay Township Supervisor Beth Friend.

“It’s going well,” White said, adding that, in the new role, he’d like to see “the same qualities that we have in our going-to-be old fire chief.”

Friend said their committee has relied on Cell to do most of the administrative work that comes with filling a big vacancy like this one.

“At this point in time, it looks like it’s going very well,” Korn said. “I was surprised by the number of applications.”

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The final decision on the next fire chief will be made by the board of directors for the Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority, which is represented by two people from each of the three townships, including their supervisors, Friend said.

“It’s been going amazingly well,” Cell said. “It is an amazing pool of candidates.”

This weekend, she said she’s planning to send the top 20 or so applications to members of the search committee so they can get started.

Korn said the next step will be for the board to review video interviews to determine who’d they like to invite for an in-person interview.

“I do think that the incredible response of candidates speaks very well to the region and to the organization as well,” Cell said.

After the beginning of the new year, she expects the candidates to go through panel interviews with the board and current staff members at Metro Fire, as well as a community reception with constituents.

If all goes according to plan, Cell said the department could have a new chief by the beginning of February 2024. Current Chief Pat Parker announced that he’ll retire in March 2024.

Korn said it would be nice to have the new person on board prior to Parker’s departure so they could work together through the transition.

“I think that it’s a position that requires strong leadership,” he said. “I’d like to see somebody that thinks outside the box a little more.”

Friend said she hopes to see someone who will “continue to build upon that record of success that our firefighters have.”

Cell previously worked with the City of Traverse City to help find the new city manager after Marty Colburn’s ouster last spring. This is her first time working with Metro Fire Department.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 19 at the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department building on Parsons Road.

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