Buckhannon seeking new fire chief

BUCKHANNON — The city of Buckhannon announced the town’s fire chief would be resigning effective immediately, and now city council is working to fill the position.

During a Buckhannon City Council’s special session this week, Mayor David Mccauley and council members accepted the resignation of Fire Chief Jim Townsend, who had served as fire chief for roughly a year and a half.

Finance and administrative director Amberle Jenkins said Townsend resigned for personal reasons.

McCauley said Townsend was a great spokesman for the fire department and “a good guy.”

“We’re sorry for him to proceed moving on from us,” McCauley said about Townsend, who is from Rancho Cucamonga, California.

However, McCauley assured council members, “We have a very strong Buckhannon Fire Department with the combination of our six paid firefighters and our many excellent volunteers.”

Mayor and council appointed Captain J.B. Kimble, who has been employed with the fire department since 2001, to serve as interim fire chief.

McCauley said Kimble had served as interim fire chief once before.

“J.B., as a matter of his job description, acts as chief since he is the captain anyway,” noted McCauley.

McCauley said Kimble’s position as interim chief will come with some additional compensation.

“Last time when J.B acted as chief given his already being a paid firefighter, he was given an additional stipend for his administrative duties of 10 hours per week, and we would like to renew that commitment that was followed two years ago,” he said.

Now, council is seeking to employ a new city fire chief.

“We’re going to try to expedite this process as much as possible,” the mayor said.

McCauley said he’d like to see the new fire chief in place by about the first of April.

“We want someone who’s going to be active both administratively and operationally,” he noted.

According to the time table for hiring the new fire chief, during the Jan. 18 council meeting, council members will approve the final job description and authorize advertisement for the position.

By the end of February, council and fire department members hope to review applications, and on March 13, interviews will be conducted in executive session.

Regarding the time table, McCauley said, “We may have to tweak it along the way, but I think at least it outlines a legitimate time frame for use to get a new fire chief within a three-month period.”