MARIETTA - A civil service exam has been scheduled for March 21 to qualify candidates for Marietta fire chief, a position left vacant Saturday with the retirement of Tom Dempsey.
The chief's exam is open to the four captains at the department; however, civil service rules require the test be competitive, so if only one captain applies to take the test, the three lieutenants at the department would be allowed to as well.
In the interim, 13-year department veteran C.W. Durham has been appointed to serve as acting chief.
Durham, 35, is one of the four captains eligible to take the exam, but said he has yet to decide if he will test for the chief's role. He said at least two captains have expressed an interested in taking the test. Those eligible have until March 11 to sign up.
Durham was appointed to the acting chief's role last Saturday by Marietta safety-service director Al Miller.
"That was done at the recommendation of (former) Chief Dempsey," Durham said. "He and I had talked, and I had indicated I would be willing to serve (as acting chief) in the interim."
Dempsey, 53, had served with the city department since 1981 and was previously a firefighter with the Devola Volunteer Fire Company, where he's been a member since 1975.
Dempsey became chief in 2006 after the unexpected death of former Chief Ted Baker. Dempsey was also the Marietta department's first paramedic and has emphasized that all city firefighters should have advanced medical training.
For the past year, Dempsey had covered both the chief and assistant chief positions as the city administration chose to leave the latter post vacant for the time being due to budget constraints, something the successful candidate will likely be forced to deal with as well.
After the exam, the city's administration will select from the top candidates, Durham said.
Marietta Mayor Michael Mullen said the civil service exam and accompanying rules will dictate who becomes the city's next chief more than anything.
"Civil service code dictates a lot of the outcome," Mullen said. "There is very little opportunity to evaluate criteria, like leadership. And unfortunately, those kinds of qualities don't necessarily come though on a scoring matrix."
Basically, it means the candidate with the highest score will likely become the next chief, Mullen said.