Stange named new chief at Polk Fire No. 1

INDEPENDENECE – Polk County Fire District No. 1 has a new fire chief. Capt. Ben Stange was named to the post by the board of directors at a meeting Friday.

The decision came after three hours of candidate interviews in executive session. The board was unanimous in its choice to promote Stange, board chair Tom Snair said.

“This was a long, thought-out process,” Snair said. “We had a great panel that gave us great direction.”

The panel, which did initial interviews, consisted of community members and professionals.

Snair said the field of applicants – all internal – was competitive. Three of the four who applied for the job advanced to final interviews with the board. The other two who were in the final round was Deputy Chief Neal Olson and Chief Mike Mayfield.

Stange said the fact that three of the four candidates were advanced by the panel shows the depth of talent within the district.

“One of the neatest things about this process, doing it internally, so many people who are embedded in this organization stepped back and took the 3,000-mile view,” Stange said. “We looked forward and had a time of reflection. I think we have some great ideas.”

The past two recruitments to fill the position had been outside searches. Snair said he is glad the board decided to look inside the district for the new fire chief.

For more on this story, see the Itemizer-Observer on July 27.

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