Search For New Saline Fire Chief Down To Two

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The search for Saline’s next fire chief could be concluded as early as this month. Saline Mayor Brian Marl said that the “daunting” response to the opportunity to replace retiring Chief Craig Hoeft, who is retiring this year, has been whittled down from around 50 candidates, to just two finalists.

“As many are aware, Chief Hoeft will be retiring in June after an impressive and distinguished career with Saline Fire,” Saline Mayor Brian Marl said in a press release from the department.

Now that the search committee has completed its job, the full Fire Board will be interviewing the final pair of candidates at its April 7 meeting. The public is encouraged to participate with online and at-meeting feedback. The meeting will be conducted at Saline City Hall, and will be broadcast over Zoom.

The candidates are Brandon Sears, a Lieutenant at the SAFD, and Jason Sperle, Pittsfield Township’s Fire Marshal. Sperle grew up in the Saline area and said that he likes the community-centric approach that the department has integrated into its culture. Sperle thinks that his two decades of education and two decades worth of experience would make him a good candidate.

“Part of what draws me there is that I don’t have to be a turnaround chief. There’s not a problem. A lot of people go places to be a chief and want to make all of these changes …. I’m not looking to do that. I’m looking to take over a pretty good department,” Sperle said.

Sears is a career Saline fire fighter who has lived in the community since moving there from Ypsilanti in 1979. If he is hired, Sears says he wanted to maintain standards in the department, eventually hire more personnel as the community grows, and possible construct a substation in Lodi Township. That substation is a long term eventual goal however, that would be possible in the next decade. There are currently no concrete plans to do that.

“I [started] out as a volunteer … and its turned into a career,” Sears said. “To me, it’s the best job in the world. … I love my job and I plan on being here no matter what the outcome is. I will be here until I retire.”

Once one of the candidate is accepted, Marl said that he would like for the replacement to “shadow” the chief throughout his duties for two weeks to a month, before taking the job on full time. The full fire board will make the decision on who to hire.

“Both of them are really strong candidates,” Frank Walsh, a consultant hired to help with the selection process, said. “Both of the candidates would do a great job of leading the department.”

Image Credit: Saline Area Fire Department

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