Good Turnout for Columbia Falls Fire Chief Job

By Beacon Staff

The application period for the Columbia Falls fire chief closed on Oct. 5, and city officials say they had a solid turnout from regional applicants.

“We’ve gotten quite a few,” said Susan Nicosia, the city’s finance director. “I think there was a good response.”

The city received about 20 applications for the opening, a good number for a position calling for specific certifications and requirements, Nicosia said. The applicants are a mix of local and out of state prospects, Nicosia said.

Officials will start reviewing the applications soon and they expect to fill the position by Dec. 1. A committee composed of city council members, volunteer firefighters and members of the Rural Fire Board will interview the applicants.

Assistant Fire Chief Jesse Best has been serving as the part-time fire chief since July.

Columbia Falls’ previous fire chief, Bob Webber, left earlier this summer under undefined circumstances. City Manager Bill Shaw said Webber’s official last day was June 16 and could not comment on the situation due to personnel privacy rights. Webber had worked as the fire chief since 2005.

The fire chief position would pay $50,000 to $55,000, depending on experience. The city pays for half of the fire chief’s salary and the Rural Fire Board makes up the rest. The department has 19 volunteers and serves roughly 10,000 people. The fire chief position became a full-time paid job in 2003, when it had previously been a volunteer position with a $450 per month stipend.