City fire chief stresses importance of working smoke detectors

The Watertown Fire Department #1’s engine rig sits in the garage of the department. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The city could name a successor to retiring Fire Chief Dale C. Herman by the end of the month.

Three current battalion chiefs are interviewing for the job next week.

Matthew R. Timerman, Timothy P. Wiley and James R. Holland were the top three on the list when the last Civil Service exam was given last January.

City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said it’s his hope to appoint a new fire chief before Chief Herman retires on Feb. 28.

“We should see how the interviews go,” he said.

Chief Herman said Wednesday that he has submitted his paperwork to the state retirement system. City Council members were notified of his retirement plans during an executive session Monday.

Mr. Mix, human resources director Matthew Roy and purchasing manager Dale Morrow are interviewing the three candidates. For whatever reason, if one of the top three candidates bows out, the fourth in line in the Civil Service exam, Michael D. Kellogg, would become in the mix for job.

The city has a residency requirement for the fire chief. If the person appointed to the position doesn’t live in Watertown, he would have between six and 12 months to move into the city.

The fact that the fire chief doesn’t earn overtime also could be a factor in the appointment.

An interim fire chief would be appointed in case a permanent replacement isn’t named before Chief Herman leaves the department, Mr. Mix said.

Chief Herman, who turned 59 Thursday, began his career in January 1986 as a firefighter at the former Arsenal Street station and was promoted to captain in 1995.

He was then promoted to battalion fire chief in 1999 before assuming the chief position Aug. 10, 2010. The chief’s position had been vacant since March 2009, when Chief Daniel J. Gaumont resigned to take a similar position in Keller, Texas.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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