By Judy Reed
The Cedar Springs Fire Department now has a new chief to oversee operations, at least temporarily.
City Manager Christine Burns announced Thursday evening, June 9, that Police Chief Roger Parent would fill the job of interim chief while the city searches for a new one to replace Jerry Gross Sr. “We hope to have someone by the end of the year,” she said.
A committee made up of Burns, Chief Parent, finance and personnel director Linda Lehman, and a member of the fire department will interview candidates. “We’ll open it up to both internal and external applications,” said Burns.
Parent said he plans to be involved and not just a figurehead. “I’ve been given some instructions by the city manager, and I plan to be active in the fire department, not just hold it down (the position) for six months,” he explained.
Parent comes equipped to do the job. Prior to becoming police chief three years ago, he served 33 years with the Kent County Sheriff Department in various leadership roles, and 14 years with Alpine Township Fire Department as a firefighter, EMT and rescue captain.
Marty Frasier will still serve as Deputy Fire Chief, and Parent said he’s glad to have him in that position.
Parent said that some of what he’ll initially bring to the table would be written policies. Coming from the Sheriff Department, he learned that everything should be in writing so that everyone is on the same page. And he will start with the command staff. “In 2011 you have to cross all your t’s and dot your i’s,” he explained. “The firefighters don’t need to fear that.”
He said he would also begin looking at the consultant’s report for the fire department audit that was done a couple of years ago to see if there’s anything they can begin to implement. He said he also does plan to go on some calls.
Councilor Pamela Conley asked if the council had any interest in having one person (like Parent) over both the police and fire departments, as some communities have done. Parent told the Post he is not looking for another job. “I already stay busy,” he said.
Fire Chief Jerry Gross stepped down at the end of May, but will remain on the fire department as a firefighter. A reception was held in his honor just prior to Thursday night’s meeting. Several council members expressed their appreciation during council comments for Gross’s years of service as chief.
“I have a lot of respect for our outgoing chief and I wish him well,” said Conley.