After a heated debate, the North Lincoln Fire and Rescue (NLFR) Board of Directors decided to offer Interim Fire Chief Rob Dahlman a one-year contract to serve as full-time Fire Chief.
On March 1, then NLFR Division Chief-EMS, Dahlman became the interim fire chief, effective until February 2020. At the Oct. 9 NLFR Board of Directors meeting, board members discussed several options for dealing with the pending opening at the Fire Chief position.
While several board members felt Dahlman was the right person for the job, considering the possible service merge with Depoe Bay Fire within the next year or two, others felt a new hiring process was in order.
“This board represents the taxpayers and the citizens of the district overall,” Board Member Danny Curler said. “I’m recommending initiating a hiring process to find the best candidate for the position of Fire Chief, showing no favoritism on the part of the board of directors.”
Curler stated that although Dahlman has been excellent as an administrator, he also felt the interim chief’s management skills leave room for improvement.
“I think we need to do our due diligence as elected officials to find the best candidate we can… we have that obligation to the citizens,” Curler said.
Fellow board member Alan Lee took exception to Curler’s comments regarding favoritism among the Board of Directors, stating that although Dahlman was somewhat ‘shoehorned’ into the job, he was the best candidate they had.
“I saw all the candidates, I spent a lot of time reading resumes and looking at candidates and I can’t say that had we gone through that process that Rob would’ve ended up where he is now, but I can say from what I saw, he would’ve been very close in the running,” Lee said. “I did not nominate Rob out of favoritism, I nominated him based on what was in front of me and who I considered the best candidate to walk in here and take over. If you want to repeat that process, we’ll be repeating what we did a year ago.”
Dahlman, who originally signed a five-year contract as the Division Chief-EMS, is in the third year of that contract and would retain that title if the board decided to hire another candidate as Fire Chief. Dahlman expressed his desire to take the position at the meeting.
“You open it up again, I’m going to apply again,” Dahlman said. “You put an end date on it, I’m still going to be here working for you guys. I said I would give five years, that was the minimum and that gets you through the consolidation.”
The consolidation, or merger with Depoe Bay Fire, was a big topic of discussion amongst the board members. Dahlman explained that everything would be changing with the merger, including creating a new nine station fire district, appointing a new Board of Directors and appointing a new Fire Chief. Board members Ron Woodard and Tim Beatty each expressed their concerns in hiring a short term Fire Chief for NLFR.
“My concern is even if we did go through the process again, with the consolidation, how do you get a candidate to even want to go through the pool (of candidates)?” Beatty said. “The pool that we did have (a year ago), they weren’t from around here. You can say, you’ll have a job for six months, a year or whatever, and then you don’t. I think based on what Rob’s been doing that he deserves the job.”
After listening to public comment both in support of Dahlman and in support of starting a new 90-day hiring process, the board discussed the potential ramifications of bringing in a new Fire Chief.
“Another thing we need to consider is that we have a good relationship with Depoe Bay as to the consolidation, and I would not like to upset or create an issue by bringing in another Chief for a few months,” Lee said. “I don’t think we would appreciate that if it happened to us.
“It’s very tough to make all the people happy all the time.”
After discussion, the Board made the motion to offer Dahlman a one-year contract as full-time Fire Chief, which passed unanimously. After the one-year contract expires, the board will reevaluate, taking into consideration the merger with Depoe Bay Fire.