Saturday, January 12, 2002

Five make cut for fire chief

Mason's next step is interviews

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The field of candidates for fire chief of Ohio's second-fastest-growing city has been whittled to five.

        The list was trimmed from 33 applicants, and then to five after phone interviews with the top 10. Next up will be in-person, day-long assessments, , which will include interviews, written exercises and presentation/problem-solving scenarios, on Jan. 24.

        Vying for the top post are Clarence Borneman of West Chester, Richard Fletcher of Mason, Thomas Macklin of Delaware, Ohio, Gerald Whetstone of Altoona, Iowa, and Mark Mallick of Williamsville, N.Y.

        Selecting a new chief is an important step for Mason's fire department, which has had three chiefs in a five-month period. The lack of consistent leadership has resulted in up-and-down morale in the department, which has 72 employees, including six full-timers.

        City Manager Scot Lahrmer, who told the most recent fire chief last year he was not a “good fit” for the department, said he expects to name a new chief in February.

        Lt. Fletcher, 48, who has lived in Mason for 6 1/4 years, worked with the Mason-Deerfield Joint Fire District for two years, remaining with Mason after Deerfield withdrew in 1997. He's also spent more than 19 years with Norwood's fire department, where he is a firefighter/lead shift paramedic.

        “I think we've had a lot of dissension in the past, and I think it's going to take somebody that can bring all dissenting parties together and see if we can all shoot for the same goal,” he said.

        Lt. Borneman, who has been with the West Chester Fire Department since 1985 and whose emergency medical service experience dates to 1982, is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer program.

        “One of the things that really attracted me about Mason was it's a small department, and I want to work for a department where I can know each member personally by name instead of number,” said Mr. Borneman, 41.

        Mr. Macklin, 53, chief of the fire department in Delaware for 10 years, said he's ready for a new challenge. Mr. Macklin, a 26-year veteran of the fire service, oversees a staff of 41 and an annual budget of about $3.7 million.

        He said his experience includes overseeing growth in his department and helping plan new fire stations.

        Mr. Mallick, 42, a deputy fire chief for the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, said he has a well-rounded background, including eight years as a fire chief in East Amherst, N.Y., where he spent 23 years as a firefighter. He's also a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program.

        Mr. Whetstone, fire chief in Altoona, could not be reached for comment.


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