Columbia Names Candidates For Fire Chief Job
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia announced the list of four finalists Monday vying to take over the top job at the city's fire department. The candidates hope to replace William Markgraf, who announced his retirement in early January. Markgraf has held the position for 22 years.
According to a statement from the city, the four candidates are:
* Gary W. Birch, chief of Holt, Mo., Community Fire Protection District
* Jeffrey A. Grote, deputy chief of Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department
* Thomas E. Solberg, chief of Peoria, Ariz., Fire Department
* Charles P. Witt, Jr., deputy chief of Columbia Fire Department.
Witt is the only candidate from Columbia. Birch has more than 35 years of fire protection experience. According to Grote's Linkedin profile, he has been with the Kansas City, Mo. Fire Department for 7 years.
One of the candidates will replace current chief, William Markgraf, who will retire as soon as City Manager Bill Watkins names his replacement. Chief Markgraf worked for Columbia's fire department for more than 22 years.
The candidates will be interviewed Thursday and Friday. The city will hold a public forum to meet the candidates at 5 p.m. on Friday at city hall.
City Councilman Jason Thornhill said he will be looking for someone with a high degree of experience who can quickly gain the respect of the people in the department.
Thornhill also said he believes the City Manager wants to appoint a new Fire Chief before his own retirement in March.