Three of the top five Mobile fire chief candidates interviewed on Tuesday before a selection panel.
The spot has lacked a permanent leader for more than three and half years.
“There may not have been a confirmed fire chief with vision and strategy, but we have had an interim chief this entire time,” Public Safety Director James Barber said. “The problem is if you don’t have vision and direction, the organization will stagnate and fragment. That’s what you see happening.”
Barber brought in esteemed Montgomery fire chief Miford Jordan to serve on the selection panel after visiting the department and studying their operation.
“Leadership is required in an organization like this, and I think with some of the challenges the director talked to me about is because of not having that leadership,” Jordan said. “What’s going to separate them[the candidates] is how passionate some of the candidates are about their strategy for how they want to go about taking care of some items in the fire department.”
Mayor Sandy Stimpson addressed some of the questions regarding the length of time the city has gone without a permanent fire chief.
“We were waiting till we could get the confirmation from the city council, and there was always a question mark out there. We’re passed that now, so I think we’ll be able to move on,” Stimpson said.
As for if having diversity among the police department and fire department’s top leaders had anything to do with the delay, Stimpson said that was just speculation.
“That’s speculation. Let’s not talk about speculation,” Stimpson said.
“There’s diversity within the top 5 and the top 13, but we’re looking for the absolute best candidate to lead the department forward,” Barber said.
The remaining two candidates are scheduled for interviews next week. Stimpson hopes to present a top nominee to council shortly after that.
News 5’s Emily DeVoe will have more tonight at 6 p.m.