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Hobart mayor gets permission to consider outside candidates for fire chief

HOBART — The next fire chief might not be a current member of the Hobart Fire Department, as a result of City Council action this week.

The council agreed that Mayor Brian Snedecor can select whom he feels is the best candidate for the job, either internally or externally.

“This lends itself to opening up other options,” Councilman John Brezik, D-5th, said at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Prior to the council’s action, city law had mandated that a new chief had to be chosen from among ranking firefighters within the department.

Snedecor said the council supports his decision to look inside the department first. He said he is interviewing three candidates from the department on Friday.

He said three other ranking firefighters in the department withdrew their applications.

The mayor said if he doesn’t choose a candidate internally, he would need the council’s approval to hire from outside.

Snedecor said he wants to fill the position in a timely fashion and the next City Council meeting isn’t until Jan. 15.

“Before I could name a chief from outside the department I’d either have to call a special meeting or wait until Jan. 15,” Snedecor said.

He said he should know within the next 10 to 14 days if he will be looking for external candidates.

Snedecor said he has no outside applications as of now although he has had inquiries from former Hobart firefighters and those on other departments.

Tom Castle, president of the Professional Firefighters Local 1641, said he received a phone call from the mayor yesterday regarding this action.

“The mayor said he wanted to have this in place in case a candidate doesn’t emerge internally. He assured me it’s a precautionary measure,” Castle said.

However, Castle said, he is confident the mayor will choose someone from within the department.

In action taken by the Board of Public Works before the City Council meeting, Lt. Luke Donsbach was promoted to captain.

Also, Castle was promoted from captain to battalion chief for Station 1, temporarily replacing battalion chief John Wall, who is hospitalized with severe burns.

Wall was injured when he intentionally drove his vehicle into his family home near Hebron.

He faces charges in connection with an attack on his wife.

Battalion Chief Bob Ellenberger said there is a $1,430 increase in pay from captain to battalion chief and a $550 hike from lieutenant to captain.

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