BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
After Mitch Petterson stepped down as Independence Township fire chief at the end of June, Pat Stamper, who had been an operations captain with the department, was appointed interim fire chief.
Stamper is also one of four candidates in the running to take on the role on a permanent basis once the new fire chief is named at the September 7 Independence Township Board of Trustees regular meeting at Township Hall.
“That’s the plan,” said Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle, who last month announced his resignation and retirement after the September 7 meeting. “My ideal fire chief is, well, let me tell you what I don’t want. I don’t want a retired fire professional from some other community who thinks they’re going to come here and ride the pine for five years. I like local, I like active, and I like fire chiefs who can lead by example.
“I’ve said before we have the best trained, best equipped fire and ALS professionals in the county, and I would like that gold standard to be maintained. I think our residents deserve it.”
Admittedly, Kittle added that it’s a “tough call right now in terms of where we’re going.”
“There is always that fine line between adequate staffing and being overstaffed and how you handle what I call the ‘Easter Sunday crowd’ because there are ebbs and flows as far as services,” said Kittle. “We’ve got the contract negotiations right now, and we fully understand the value that a well-trained, well-equipped fire professional brings to the party.
“Based on everything we see right now, if you are a professional, it won’t come cheap, so what do we do as a township? We have to be cognizant of that.”
The initial round of 11 interviews was conducted last month and the candidate pool pared down to four, according to Kittle.
“I think we have a good solid four candidates that are now undergoing the assessment and appraisal process through MCO (Michigan Corrections Organization), which is a professional organization that is specifically designed for public safety,” Kittle said.
“They will score and rate and rank these potential candidates on a number of factors, and then we’re going to have more interviews. We’re going to have a round robin with the actual fire department command staff, with township trustees, and with the department heads who have to work with these guys when it comes to different programs and things of that nature.
“And then the selection committee again will start to consolidate and put together a ranking model that we will then take to the (township) board on September 7.”