Officials to begin interviewing fire chief candidates Monday

Published 12:08 pm Saturday, March 6, 2010

Austin officials will begin interviewing candidates for the city’s vacant fire chief position on Monday.

Currently, that role is filled by interim chief David Schliek. However, according to state law, he must be out by March 16 — a month after he started.

The city has been without a full-time chief since Dan Wilson retired at the end of December, ending a nearly 26-year run with the Austin Fire Department. Officials have pegged late-March or April as the preferred time for a new chief to start, though with interviews just beginning now, that timetable could be moved back. Much of the timing depends on who is picked and what kind of notice that person would need to give to a current employer.

Specifically who has applied for the job is not public data, and the interviews themselves are closed, pursuant to the state’s personnel privacy laws. City human resources director Tricia Wiechmann did say that there are 12 applicants and that all will be interviewed Monday.

Whoever is hired will be taking over a department that has had a controversial last few months. In October, the local firefighters’ union settled a contract dispute with the city, ending a tough negotiation process that took roughly two years.

And in November, a city investigation into the workplace conduct of then-chief Wilson was made public. That investigation was called off in January, and the attorney who conducted the investigation ultimately reported that city officials need to let intra-station issues be resolved within the AFD.