Union says city not transparent during process to replace Wichita Fire Chief


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) Wichita Fire Union president Mike Schulte isn’t happy about how the city has handled finding a new fire chief.

“It is a little bit disheartening for us,” says Schulte. “We have asked, I have asked, time and time again…Can we see him? Can we talk to him?”

Until this morning, he says he hasn’t been involved at all.

“We learned just today that we are down to two finalists already, and this is the first that I have been made aware of those candidates,” says Schulte.

Candidates, who Schulte says he still hasn’t even met.

Even more, he expected the public to have a say, much like the forums that were held when the city hired Police Chief Gordon Ramsay in 2015.

We believe the fire chief position is just as vital as the police chief when it comes to public safety,” says Schulte. “Shouldn’t they have a say in who is going to run that department, and what they want to see out of them?”

City Manager Robert Layton says they are two different positions, and two different processes.

He released this statement to KSN news.

“Unfortunately, the Fire Union’s comments about our process are overly broad and misleading. This standard process mirrors our approach for all other department director hires, except the Police Chief. It should be noted that the WPD public interview sessions were added as part of the WSU assessment recommendations. The search for the next Fire Chief has in fact involved a wide range of stakeholders including citizens, Fire Department staff, and City management in the semi-finalist interviews. Elected officials, the Fire Union’s executive board and the City Manager will interview the finalists.”

Schulte says he will get a chance to talk to the candidates for the first time on Thursday.

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