MASON CITY — Four finalists for Mason City fire chief share a diverse background in firefighting and emergency response.
The final selection will take the helm vacated when former Mason City Fire Chief Bob Platts retired June 30.
The four candidates are: Des Moines Fire Capt. Mark Dooley; Lincoln Park, Michigan, Fire Chief Al Dyer, Jr.; Mason City Fire Department Deputy Chief David Johnson; and Mason City Fire Department Capt. Jared Ogbourne.
A panel consisting of fire chiefs from Waukee, Ankeny and Oelwein interviewed the group on Tuesday. Each finalist also completed a written test and gave a presentation.
City officials hope to fill the position by early August.
A Globe Gazette reporter spoke with the candidates Tuesday afternoon about their qualifications, why they’re interested in the job and what they hope to bring to the community.
Mark Dooley, 46
Position: Captain in Fire Prevention section and public information officer, Des Moines Fire Department
Additional experience: Twenty-two years with Des Moines Fire Department. Associate professor at Des Moines Area Community College and an adjunct with the Iowa Fire Service Training Bureau in Des Moines.
Why Mason City? “Beautiful community. It’s rich in tradition, deep in history. All-career department since 1909. … There’s lots of great opportunities. The stability of the community is something that really attracted me. The department directors have served for a long time and so that is something, too, that you look at.”
What do you bring? “The engineering and community development. We have explosive growth in Des Moines, so I’m available for making sure that the growth makes all of our buildings sustainable and safe environments for the community and for firefighters.”
Al Dyer, Jr., 45
Position: Fire chief, fire marshal and director of emergency management at the Lincoln Park, Michigan, Fire Department.
Current department: Chief ofhe 18-member department, which runs approximately 6,000 fire and medical calls annually in the city of approximately 35,000 in southeast Michigan.
Why Mason City? “Growth. No. 1 reason would simply be there is an immense opportunity here not only for growth of the Fire Department, but growth of the city. I think those two would go hand-in-hand. It’s a very simple thing to say, because as the city gets bigger, it gets more populated, more businesses, more buildings … you actually need to grow your department to size.”
About yourself: I’m really laid back, easy going. Doesn’t mean I don’t take my job seriously, just means I have a very cool demeanor.”
David Johnson, 52
Position: Deputy chief, Mason City Fire Department.
Experience: 33 years in fire service in Charles City and Mason City. Promoted to deputy chief in Mason City in 2010.
Biggest challenge facing MCFD? Johnson would review how the department handles EMS calls, a service it took over in 2004. “We just need to take the opportunity. It’s been 12 years down the road (since the department began providing ambulance service), to look at all the processes that are involved with the Fire Department and make sure that everything’s running efficiently.”
Why chief? “My resume supports advancement and it’s just kind of a natural progression from deputy chief to chief. I’ve been here and I’m already kind of in the mix, so I think it would be a fairly seamless transition.”
Jared Ogbourne, 41
Position: Captain, Mason City Fire Department
Experience: Captain in Mason City since 2011. Twenty years in fire service.
Biggest challenge facing MCFD? “EMS. Obviously we got into EMS in 2004 knowing that it was going to be a large challenge and it continues to be a challenge. … With that large of a response area (750 square miles), that creates lots of challenges for us staffing-wise, long turnaround times, long transport times. It creates lots of problems that we have to deal with on a daily basis.”
About yourself: “My grandpa was a fire chief, my dad was a fire chief (both) in a volunteer department in southern Iowa (Osceola), so I grew up in a fire station. Since I’ve walked I’ve been in a fire station.”