House Fire

Firefighters work on extinguishing hot spots after a house fire in 2015 in Casper. The city of Casper is hiring a new fire chief to replace Kenny King, who is retiring.

File, Star-Tribune

The city of Casper has received fewer applications than expected for the fire chief’s job, its top official said Tuesday.

City Manager Carter Napier said Tuesday that 28 applicants submitted their names in response to a job listing for the position. The job posting was open for three weeks and closed Sunday.

Despite the lower-than-anticipated response rate, Napier said he thought “we have some good candidates.”

The position will pay between $105,000 and $126,000 annually, according to the job posting.

Napier said it is “probably gonna be the case” that the position will be filled in an interim capacity for about a month after Fire Chief Kenneth King steps down Jan. 2. He had initially hoped to fill the position by the time King’s retirement becomes effective, but Napier said that now seems unlikely.

The job requirements are roughly equivalent to those of the police chief position, for which the city is also hiring.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in the field, the city called for its applicants to have five years of “increasingly responsible” experience in a Fire-EMS department, including at least three years of administrative and supervisory responsibility.

The posting also specifies a preference for candidates who hold master’s degrees and who have a post-graduate certification from the National Fire Academy.

The next steps in the process will include a culling of the candidate field, calling applicants in for final interviews and then conducting background research.

The interviews will be conducted by a panel that includes Napier. He described the panel as consisting of “people familiar with the industry,” business leaders and people who come into frequent contact with the fire department.

After Napier settles on a candidate, he will negotiate a contract with the new chief before making an announcement.

King announced plans to retire in October 2016, just hours after apologizing for an email regarding the 2015 Cole Creek Fire.

In an email to a subordinate who was collecting video evidence of the fire that destroyed 14 homes, King wrote: “Could you cut out the bad parts, and make sure that no copies are made and only DCI views?”

The email was sent while the fire still blazed, but did not become public until the Star-Tribune published it a year later.

King characterized the email as a “bad joke,” in an interview with the Star-Tribune.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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