Eric West, 30-Year BFD Vet, Named Fire Chief
Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason has turned to a 30-year veteran to lead the city's fire department.Gleason on Monday removed the interim tag from Eric West’s title as fire chief. West, who joined the BFD in 1981, has served in the interim role since last November -- shortly after fire chief Brian Mohr announced his retirement.
Gleason said he chose West from among nine candidates who interviewed for the job. He said there were 40 applicants.
“Eric just rose to the top as being that steady hand; a stellar career, very respected amongst his peers throughout the state and the Midwest region,” Gleason said. “It just seemed the logical choice to the team.”
Gleason said he wants to see West expand diversity hiring within the department, adding the department’s performance in that area has been “very poor.” He said bFD has fewer than 10 firefighters from minority populations.
“That’s a charge Eric is going to have from me that I will be checking often,” Gleason said. “How are we going to recruit and try to have a fire department that’s reflective of the community we serve; and not even stop there. I am saying at a minimum.”
Gleason also wants West to explore ways the city can boost recruitment efforts for firefighters, adding the city’s paramedic requirement has shrunk the pool of candidates.
“The applicant pool is dwindling and it’s becoming more and more challenging to hire entry-level firefighters that have that paramedic requirement,” he said.
Gleason said the city may explore ways to relax the requirement.
West joined the Bloomington Fire Department in July 1981. He was named deputy chief of operations in 2015 and has served as a HAZMAT field instructor with the Illinois Fire Institute since 2004.
Gleason said he also wanted a three-year commitment from West to serve in the role.
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