The search for Lexington’s next fire chief could be coming to an end nearly a year after the last one announced his retirement.
Town Manager Carl Valente said Tuesday that he’ll be finishing finalist interviews in the next few days, could make an offer next week and may be ready to announce a new hire in early May. Though he wouldn’t disclose the identities of the two finalists, Valente said one candidate is local, one is national and both would be a good fit for the department.
“The two finalists I have are both excellent,” said Valente. “It’s going to be a struggle to make a decision between the two.”
Whoever is tapped as the next chief will take the reins from interim Chief Keith Hoyle, who came aboard last July following the retirement of former Fire Chief Bill Middlemiss.
Hoyle had his six-month contract extended in January after the town was dissatisfied with the applicant pool from the initial search to fill the vacant chief’s position. Neither of the current finalists applied the first time around, Valente said.
While neither candidate holds the top position their current department, one of the two is a battalion chief in a larger department, according to Valente, who said its unclear when the next chief would start with the LFD, but he hopes there can be a bit of overlap with Hoyle before the interim chief, who is retired, has to leave.
The same consultant assisting with the ongoing fire department also lent a hand when the town reopened its fire chief search, Valente said.
Part of the recruitment criteria, according to Valente, is for a chief who can build a strong management team, establish a mentoring program to develop internal candidates for promotional opportunities and focus on developing a strong training program.
“These are two very strong candidates, and very different candidates,” Valente said Tuesday. “They would both bring very different qualities to Lexington, and what I’ve been really struggling with over the last few weeks is where do we want to bring the department in the next five years. We’ll use that information to decide which candidate would be the best fit for the department.”