Fire districts select new fire chief
UPDATED 8/1/19 -- The Scappoose and St. Helens fire districts are one step closer to hiring a new fire chief and are now in negotiations with the top candidate.
The Scappoose Fire District has selected Dennis Hoke to hire as fire chief and will now begin the next steps of negotiating his contract and completing final hiring tasks.
The board of directors for the Scappoose Fire District made a unanimous decision to offer a contingent hiring contract to Hoke, after an hours-long executive session with the Columbia River Fire District board of directors on Monday, July 29.
Both boards were in favor of selecting Hoke. The two fire districts, CRFR and SFD, operate under the direction of a single fire chief and five division chiefs through an intergovernmental agreement approved in 2016. The IGA has been modified and renewed yearly since.
George Dunkel, a consultant with Special Districts Association of Oregon who has been working with the fire districts throughout the hiring process, explained that the offer will be finalized after contract negotiations are completed and Hoke clears a background check and medical exam.
The boards of directors for both districts have been preparing to find a new chief this year after Fire Chief Mike Greisen announced his retirement after three decades with the fire district.
Hoke has more than 45 years of experience in the fire service and served in the United States Army. He currently works with the Illinois Valley Fire District in southern Oregon, where he has worked since 2013 as the fire chief. Hoke also graduated from the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program; has been a deputy chief in Anchorage, Alaska; served as a volunteer captain in Colorado; and has experience as a paramedic.
While both districts boards of directors were in unanimous support of hiring Hoke, the Scappoose Board of Directors ultimately made the motion to approve his hiring during, Dunkel explained.
Hoke said he was attracted to the position and the challenge it posed to oversee two fire districts.
"It's very exciting with two districts under one chief," Hoke said.
Additionally, Hoke said he has experience with consolidations and has written federally accepted policies on joint basing looking specifically at how to consolidate fire districts which may be useful if the two fire districts choose to combine other parts of their operations in the future, he explained.
While it's too soon to say what needs the two districts will have and where he will help lead them in the future, Hoke said he is interested in helping the fire districts look at those topics.
"That's the question; What does the future look like?" Hoke said.
Hans Feige, board chair for CRFR, said the two boards held a robust interviewing process which included candidate evaluations from people with technical expertise, experience in finance and hu-
man resources, community relations and management,
as well as fire district employees.
The top five candidates being considered for the job attended a meet and greet on Sunday, July 28. The two-hour event allowed community members, emergency responders, elected officials and others to ask questions and get to know the candidates.
The two boards of directors ultimately decided to select a candidate who could meet future needs.
"I think Mr. Hoke has a great deal of experience in the fire service in both large and small departments, chief experience, and he will be a great ad-dition to the community and both (fire districts)," Feige said by email.
"One of many points of discussion (Monday) was thinking about what both Boards are looking for in a chief and what our expectations are from that position in the next few years. The decision to extend an offer to Mr. Hoke was because the Boards felt he could provide what we are looking for. There will be a need for his many years of experience and our expectation is that his energy and initiative will prove beneficial to both organizations," Feige added.
David Grant, a board member with the Scappoose Fire District, said the decision came down to the fact that Hoke was the best qualified to meet the needs of the district at this time, but said each candidate was highly qualified and it was an "extremely difficult decision."
"(There was) just a general feeling of the way he presented himself during the interviews, he did well in all five interviews and because of of his background and experience he was the best to fit our needs," Grant explained.
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