Fire union upset by lack of involvement in selecting new fire chief

By FireRescue1 Staff

WICHITA, Kan. — A fire union is upset after a city's decision to not involve them during the selection for a new fire chief.

KWCH reported that the city’s recent search for a police chief featured a variety of public input, but the same practice is not being seen with the fire chief selection process.

“It just seems a little late, and a dollar short when you are down to two candidates,” Matt Schulte, IAFF Local 135 president, said. “We just wanted to make sure everyone was involved. We were kind of told we would be involved. We weren’t allowed into the process until tomorrow (Thursday).”

The union posted on their Facebook page, and said, “Wichita citizens: The City of Wichita is currently in the selection process for a new fire chief. There has not been transparency or community involvement, unlike previous department head selections in recent history, such as the selection of Chief Gordon Ramsay. The lack of citizen involvement by city leaders is of great concern.”

Wichita City Manager Robert Layton said the fire union’s claims are “broad and misleading.”

“This standard process mirrors our approach for all other department director hires, except the police chief,” Layton said in a statement. “The search for the next fire chief has in fact involved a wide range of stakeholders including citizens, fire department staff and city management in the semi-finalist interviews. Elected officials, the fire union’s executive board and the city manager will interview the finalists. Again, this is our standard process.”

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