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Grand Forks panel interviews four fire chief finalists

Four candidates for Grand Forks Fire Chief interviewed with city officials on Tuesday, setting up a final selection by Mayor Mike Brown as soon as next week.

A new hire would bring an end to a search that has been on since Fire Chief Peter O'Neill retired in January. Since then, longtime firefighter Chad Cutshaw has led the fire department on an interim basis, and a job posting drew nearly 20 responses, city leaders say, since winnowed down to the group interviewed by city leaders this week.

"They went well. We had hour interviews of all the candidates this morning," City Administrator Todd Feland said. The four candidates were interviewed by a panel of nine officials, including city department heads, City Council members, regional fire chiefs and others. Their results will be forwarded to the city's Civil Service Commission, which is expected to provide a shortlist of up to three candidates for Mayor Brown to review next week.

When he retired in January, O'Neill was the second-highest paid city employee, with a nearly $134,000 salary. He was outpaced only by Feland, who is set to make $160,430 this year. According to the city's job posting, whoever the new chief is, he'll be well compensated, with a recommended salary ranging from $106,501 to $133,126.

Here's a look at the finalists for the position.

Fire chief candidates

Michael Stanley

Title: Medical branch commander, Aurora Fire Department

Location: Aurora, Colo.

Stanley's career dates back to 1996, when he joined the Aurora Fire Department as a firefighter. He's since risen to nine more positions with the department, including medical branch commander, a role he's had since 2016. His resume lists several awards and professional qualifications, including multiple awards from a Colombian fire department.

Stanley holds a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership for emergency services from Charter Oak State College and a master's degree in education and human resource studies from Colorado State University, as well as multiple associate degrees in emergency fields.

Gary Lorenz

Title: Assistant chief of operations, Fargo Fire Department

Location: Fargo

Lorenz began his fire career in 1990, when he joined the Fargo Fire Department as a firefighter. In 1999, he became a captain, and has held senior leadership jobs since 2012, including assistant chief, assistant chief of support services and his current role: assistant chief of operations.

He holds a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership from the University of Mary and an associate degree in electronic communications from the North Dakota College of Science.

Bruce Weymier Jr.

Title: Administrative battalion chief Grand Forks Fire Department

Location: Grand Forks

Weymier has been a paramedic with Altru since 1993, and was a senior firefighter for the Grand Forks Fire Department by 2002. He's since been a fire captain and fire apparatus specialist.

He holds an associate degree in management from Park University, at Grand Forks Air Force Base, where he is seeking a bachelor's degree in human resource management.

Christopher Nelson

Title: Fire Chief, Minnesota Ore Operations, United States Steel

Location: Warba, Minn.

Nelson has held several positions since 1997, both in fire and in similar fields. Now a fire chief for United States Steel, overseeing multiple mining properties, he's previously supervised an airport fire department and handled emergency management planning for a hospital in the Twin Cities area, among other positions.

He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering and design technology from Bemidji State University. He recently began seeking a master's degree in public safety leadership and emergency management from Capella University.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108