With the help of the Assistant Fire Chief’s, Public Safety Director Ric Martinez and City Administrator Elizabeth Hansen narrowed the search for the Director of Fire and Emergency Services from 24 applicants to five. Martinez and Hansen conducted phone interviews on Feb. 28 and narrowed to three finalists on Tuesday, March 4.

Finalist Charles Fugate is from Mt. Washington, Ky., where he serves as Fire Chief. Fugate has 19 years experience in fire and emergency services and 10 years of management experience as Fire Chief, Captain of EMT’s, EMS Director, Battalion Chief, Training Officer, Major and Lieutenant. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia Southern University in Fire Science.

The second candidate is, Ray Reynolds, from Indianola. Reynolds has 25 years of law enforcement and fire experience, 9 of which has been working for the State of Iowa as Fire Prevention Inspector, Special Agent or Arson/Explosives, Task Force Officer for the FBI, State Fire Marshal, and Special Agent in charge of the Building Code. Reynolds has an Associate’s degree in Law Enforcement from Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids, a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, and became a certified Public Administrator from Drake University.

The third finalist is Dennis Swift from Fort Dodge. Swift has 20 years of experience in the fire and emergency response field. Swift currently owns a business called United Flame Guard for the past 12 years, which helps do inspections, training and fire resistive treatment. Swift has served on departments as Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, and Safety Director. Swift has an Associate’s degree in Fire Science Technology from Des Moines Area Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Fire Science from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix.

The finalists will be giving individual public presentations at City Hall in the Council Chambers from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11.

"Each person meeting the candidates will be encouraged to complete a comment card after each presentation; providing feedback to the council interview committee," stated Mayor Lynn Lathrop.

"It is important to the Mayor and Council Interview Committee that we provide several opportunities to the community to meet and weigh in on selecting our next Director of Fire and EMS," added City Administrator Elizabeth Hansen.

The City Council will deliberate immediately after three rounds of interviews, a city tour, and open public presentations. All groups will provide feedback to the Council Interview Committee before they deliberate. The City hopes to have the next Director of Fire and EMS start on or before March 31.