Leader Blues

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TOP STORY > >Fire chief search is down to three

Leader staff writer

The Sherwood Fire Board plans to interview three applicants for the position of full-time fire chief for the Sherwood Fire Department at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the fire station on Lantrip Road..

The five-member board’s decision to go from a part-time position to full time and to not include the current chief in its final list has stirred controversy.

“I’m getting letters calling me and the rest of the board members idiots,” said Tom Brooks, who has been on the board for three years and seems to be spearheading the change. “And I’ve also gotten letters that support us and being belligerent toward the mayor and Alderman Sulcer.”

Mayor Virginia Hillman, along with Aldermen Sheila Sulcer and Butch Davis, have been vocally concerned over the board’s decisions, feeling that the city should have some input in the chief’s selection.

The Fire Department, which does encompass all of Sherwood, is not a municipal fire department but a fire protection district department under the control of the county judge and the five-member board.

The board members are appointed by the judge without any city input.

The board received eight resumes, including one from Frank Hill, the current fire chief and a 27-year veteran of the department.

In a meeting earlier this month, the board narrowed down the field of applicants to three: Andy Traffanstedt, the Gravel Ridge fire chief and parttime captain with the Sherwood Fire Department; Phillip Flynn, full-time lieutenant and supervisor for the Sherwood Fire Department, and David Teague, a battalion chief with the Memphis Fire Department.

Brooks said that when the commissioner meet Thursday, the panel will go into executive session.

“I expect we’ll spend at least 30 minutes interviewing each candidate, and then we’ll come back out to the public forum and make our decision.”

Brooks is hoping to be able to name a new fire chief Thursday night. “I’d also like to have us talk to Frank Hill about what role he might continue to have with the department.”