The Lodi City Council unanimously approved hiring an interim fire chief despite department employees suggesting that they could handle the workload to save the city money.
The city will hire Dan Haverty, who retired as the chief of Folsom in 2010 and has 30 years of experience.
The city will pay him $90 an hour, which would equal $172,800 annually, but he is not receiving any benefits, like health insurance, pension contributions or vacation days.
The fire chief search is expected to take about six months.
Four members of the department attended the meeting, and Lodi Fire Division Chief Aimee Murry said the five mid-managers and captains have discussed juggling the department’s tasks.
“We definitely would do our best to try and make it work, in light of the amount of money saved,” she said.
Murry said the money the city is paying the interim chief could save a firefighter’s job, especially considering the tight budget for next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
City Manager Rad Bartlam said he felt the department was already short-staffed and if he promoted someone from within the city to fill the position temporarily, it would strain the department.
“I need a seasoned veteran, a seasoned fire chief who has done the job in the past and dealt with these type of reductions. As a team, they may be able to fill in, but that just deteriorates the work they are there to primarily do,” he said.
One of the reasons he selected Haverty is because he has experience with designing fire stations. The council wants to fast-track building a new Fire Station 2. The station has leaky roofs, rodent infestations and an air conditioner that overheats.
“The main reason that I am going to support this is I because I want someone focusing on Fire Station 2, because we have got to get those people out of that building,” Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said.