With just days to go before the job posting expires, the City of Omaha has received nine applications from people hoping to be the city's next fire chief.
Only one of those applicants, interim Chief Bernard Kanger, is currently part of the Omaha Fire Department. The eight other candidates, whose names and current cities have not been released, came out of a national search.
Once the deadline passes on Monday, the city's Human Relations Department will launch a formal testing process for all of the candidates.
Mayor Jean Stothert said she won't be provided the names of the candidates until the testing is complete and officials have narrowed the field to four finalists. The short list will be released to the public, along with additional information about the candidates' background.
The four finalists will be interviewed by a panel that will include outside fire chiefs and Marty Bilek, Stothert's chief of staff. Stothert said she plans to personally interview the candidates in late February and expects to name a new chief March 10.
Kanger has been filling in as chief since August, when then-Chief Mike McDonnell went on administrative leave. McDonnell and Stothert, who had sparred for months over department budget and management issues, later came to a deal that concluded with McDonnell retiring in November.
The city delayed the hiring process for a new chief while it revised some of the requirements for the position.
Candidates must now hold a bachelor's degree from a short list of fields and have 15 years of firefighting experience, including at least three years as a battalion chief or higher-ranking administrator. A master's degree or executive fire officer certificate is “preferred.”
Previously, the city had required a master's degree unless a candidate had previously served as an assistant chief or had 20 years of firefighting experience and a bachelor's degree.