Search for new assistant fire chief begins

The next assistant fire chief in Fort Dodge may come from another community’s fire department, and will have greater responsibility for managing the emergency medical work performed by city firefighters.

Those details emerged Tuesday morning as the city’s Civil Service Commission launched the process of replacing Assistant Fire Chief Woody Wolfe, who will retire Sept. 30 after 37 years of service.

”It’s been my professional pleasure to work with him,” Fire Chief Kent Hulett said. ”He’s been a key in our organization.”

Hulett said he proposed significant changes to the job description for the assistant chief position to reflect the growing demand for emergency medical care. He said 75 percent of Fire Department responses involve providing that care.

Currently, Lt. Jeff Hill serves as the department’s emergency medical service coordinator. Because he is also a leader on one of the crews of firefighters who work 24-hour shifts, Hill isn’t at the firehouse every day to oversee the medical program.

Hulett said the demand for emergency medical service has become so great that someone needs to be at the firehouse five days a week to manage it.

The new assistant fire chief will also continue to be in charge of other day-to-day operations of the department.

”I would love this position to be filled from within,” Hulett told the commission.

But he said he expects to have ”limited success” recruiting candidates from within the department.

”Most of them are probably content where they are now,” he said.

Since the late 1990s, the city has had three fire chiefs, including Hulett, who were hired from outside the ranks of the department. However, the assistant fire chiefs have always been promoted from within.

On Tuesday the commission voted unanimously to approve the new job description for assistant fire chief.

The commission also approved an application, testing and interview process for the position.

Jim Vollmer, the city’s human resources director, said the new assistant chief should be on the job in mid to late November.