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Public gets chance to meet candidates for Columbia fire chief


People had the chance to meet three finalists who are competing to become Columbia's next fire chief Monday night.

A meet-and-greet was held at city hall from 5 to 6 p.m.

The three finalists attended the event. The finalists include Brian Dunn, Christopher Riley and Clayton Farr.

Each candidate had the opportunity to share why they stand out over the others.

Dunn served as fire chief for San Angelo, Texas for the past 21 years and has over 32 years of public fire service experience.

"Hurricane evacuations, wildfires, I had a 158-thousand acre wildfire breached come close within a quarter mile of the North facing the city of San Angelo, so I'm used to dealing with those things," Dunn said.

Riley has more than 40 years of experience in fire services and has served as a fire chief in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"I've had the opportunity to lead two outstanding fire departments, I've been involved in the accreditation process, Columbia's an accredited agency as well so I would hope to add value to that," Riley said.

Farr has 27 years in fire services and has served in the Columbia Fire Department in numerous roles since 1988.

"I'm from here, I've grown up within this organization and I know the community, I know the city, I know the government, I know our partner agencies. I know how we fit into the larger puzzle of public safety," Clayton said.

Each candidate also talked about what changes they hope to bring to the community if selected.

"There are two fire stations that are at the planning stage, additional fire stations to help with the growth of the city. So, my goal would be to make sure we keep up with those projects," Riley said.

"We do need to change our training just a bit and enhance our training opportunities. We have a need to bring on additional staff, and hire additional staff for a new fire station we intend to open, " Farr said.

"It's kind of like ordering your food and dumping salt on it before you even taste it you know, I could go and say I'm going to do this but that might not be what they need. So, you got to get in there evaluate those things first and then make the corrections that need to be made," said Dunn.

The city used the company Strategic Government Resources to help with the search. The recruitment process yielded 29 applicants across 15 states. The Fire Chief Search Committee led by City manager De'Carlon Seewood then reviewed the applications and narrowed down the finalists.

Former Fire Chief Andy Wood left Columbia Fire Department in February. Former Chief Randy White has been serving as the interim chief.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

Kennedy Miller


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