Commission to begin process of hiring new Beloit fire chief

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BELOIT - The Beloit Police and Fire Commission (PFC) could take action Monday to start its hiring process for a new fire chief to replace Chief Brad Liggett who retired July 1.

The commission will consider resolutions to officially appoint an interim fire chief, and it may take action to hire a search firm to identify candidates for the job.

PFC President Mardell Jacobsen said the commission would consider a resolution to formally name Assistant Chief Daniel Pease as interim chief. Since Liggett's left the Beloit department to become fire chief in Freeport, Illinois, Pease has covered the chief's responsibilities, Jacobsen said. Pease joined the department in March of 2018 after leaving the Highland Park, Illinois Fire Department as chief.

"He's the logical choice with his past experience," Jacobsen said.

In terms of the new chief hiring process, Jacobsen said the request for proposals process could run until September before a search firm is selected. Jacobsen noted the controversy of the 2015-2016 hiring process of Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski, and said she was hopeful the fire chief's hiring process would be less controversial.

During the police chief selection process, three of the five members of the PFC resigned after city council members told the commission to reconsider its first decision to hire Patrick Hoey as chief. The commission members resided after they switched their votes to favor Zibolski.

"The previous recruitment process was turbulent," Jacobsen said, who had recently joined the PFC at the time of the Zibolski turmoil. "Hopefully if we lay things out in a more logical way, we will avoid those issues we had in the past."

Jacobsen reaffirmed the PFC had the authority to hire chief positions in both departments, but noted the council had the authority for approving terms of contracts drafted by Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther.

Overall, Jacobsen said the PFC needed to be "responsive to the community" as it embarks on the new hiring process.

"We don't want to rush through this, but we also don't want to delay it," Jacobsen said.

The PFC will meet at 5:30 p.m., on Monday at the City Engineering Facility, 2400 Springbrook Court.

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