The city of Grand Island met with three new possibilities for fire chief Monday, as the progress moves a lawsuit further to the background.
The city of Grand Island was sued by the fire union earlier this year, for not having a fire chief and using an interim for longer than city law allowed. The union won the lawsuit and a new interim was named in Russ Blackburn, replacing Tim Hiemer, the former interim fire chief.
The process to find and narrow down a pool of candidates began shortly after Blackburn was named interim fire chief. Monday, the three candidates for fire chief went through a series of meet and greets.
"It's been a long year," said Blackburn. "It's good that we're this close and finally down to making a decision."
All the candidates have experience on their side, but only one has local knowledge.
Corey Schmidt, has an associate degree in fire protection technology from SCC in Lincoln and a bachelor's degree in business administration/management from Peru State College.
He was hired as a firefighter/EMT–B in 1996 and was later promoted to fire captain in 2000. Schmidt also owns Hard Core 4x4 and opened Schmidt Realty in 2011. Prior to working for the Grand Island Fire Department, Schmidt served as a fire protection specialist for the United State Air Force for four years.
Schmidt is in the running alongside Patrick Kelly, a consultant and adjunct professor from Florida. Kelly has an associate degree in fire protection and a master's degree in business administration from Loyola College. In addition to these degrees, Kelly is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and also has a Chief Fire Officer certification.
Kelly is currently a consultant for TriData Corp in Arlington, Va. and is an adjunct professor in fire science for Columbia Southern University. Kelly also worked as the fire chief in Tucson, Ariz. for two and a half years and as the fire chief in DeLand, Fla., for nearly four years. Kelly was a commissioner/fire coordinator for Westchester Department of Emergency Services from 2000 through 2004. Kelly worked for the Baltimore County Fire Department for over 25 years, where he served in numerous roles during his tenure and retired as a battalion chief.
Finally, there's Terry Flynn, a COO of emergency services in Traverse City, Mich. Flynn has an associate degree in chemical industrial technology, a bachelor's degree in business/accounting and a bachelor's degree in fire engineering. Flynn also earned a master's degree in public administration from Central Michigan University.
Flynn is also a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program with the National Fire Academy and has a Chief Fire Officer certification with the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Since 2006, he has served as the chief of operations with Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority in Traverse City, Mich. Prior to serving with Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority, Flynn was employed for 15 years with the Traverse City Fire Department and eight years as a member of the Chicago Fire Department.