CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Do you have what it takes to become Cape Coral's new fire chief? Days after WINK-TV first told you the city is searching for someone to replace current Chief Bill Van Helden, we've obtained the official recruitment paperwork.
Fire Chief Bill Van Helden has served the city as chief for over a decade and soon will be retiring. Now, City Manager John Szerlag tells us in an exclusive interview, a nationwide search is underway to fill his shoes.
A document from the search firm says the new chief can expect a salary of $81,000 to $134,000 a year. But it's clear this person will inherit a department with scarce resources.
The document says "Between 2004 and 2008, the fire department averaged 16,000 calls for service annually. Aince then, the average has been 18,000. During the same period, the number of fire stations has remained constant and only limited equipment has been acquired."
Fire Chief Van Helden himself has expressed concerns that the lack of funding is hurting response times.
"We're going to have a great fire department as long as we have adequate resources to fund it. We'll need a chief to help lead the department, not only assisting us to economic sustainability but also to assure that we maintain our culture of professionalism," said Szerlag.
Van Helden, who's office is in the Emergency Operations Center, has declined an on camera interview at this time. But we do know he will stay here as the chief until the city finds a replacement.
The job search closes next month. The city is hoping for a replacement by February.
Candidates for fire chief will be screened through the search firm. They will then face the city manager for one-on-one interviews and undergo a background check.