Thursday, December 12, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Polk County Fire District No. 1's new interim chief isn't new to the fire service. John Stein was the chief of the Dallas Fire Department for six years from 1997-2003.
August 13, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- John Stein tried to stay out of the public sector, but after nine years in the private arena, he's again serving the needs of Polk County.
Stein was hired on a one-year contract as the interim fire chief for Polk County Fire District No. 1 in July after former chief Jason Cane resigned at the end of June.
Formerly at the Dallas Fire Department for 27 years -- six years as its chief -- Stein spent the last nine years with Dallas-based National Hose Testing Specialties Inc. as its vice president of operations.
"This is an opportunity for me to get re-involved in the fire service and to be able to use the knowledge and expertise I've accumulated over the years to benefit this department," Stein said. "It was a difficult decision because my previous employer was a great place to work and a good situation."
Stein brings his extensive fire protection experience to a district facing its share of financial woes.
Polk No. 1 has suffered major budget shortfalls for a few years and was forced to lay off its fire marshal in December.
The board of directors has been mulling a proposed levy for the November ballot and Stein has been heavily involved with discussions since coming to the district.
The board will hold a public forum Aug. 15 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Polk No. 1 Central Station, 1800 Monmouth St., Independence, to educate the public further on the proposed levy.
"Like any organization that has financial challenges, we're just trying to look for new and different ways to continue to get the job done," Stein said. "One of the advantages of bringing in a new person is it's a different set of eyes looking at it."
Bringing an interim chief in quickly was a major priority for the board, allowing them more time to flesh out the details of the proposed levy.
Though Stein is on a one-year contract, he's not looking at the job as merely an interim position.
Stein has a vested interest in the future of the district, managing programs and developing volunteers, according to Training and Operations Chief Neal Olson.
"He has a clear sense of purpose and a goal for us," Olson said. "He could've come in as the interim and said `I'm here. I'm going to run. We'll just do what we need to do.' But he's come in and taken an aggressive approach."
During his time in Dallas, Stein frequently interacted with Polk No. 1 on calls and community events, giving him insights that have aided a smooth transition.
Though similar in many ways, each department has its own way of doing business and carrying out the functions of serving the community.
"The major learning curve is getting to know the different apparatuses they use here and the different operational methods," Stein said. "It wasn't so much what to do but how this department attacks an emergency situation. How Polk No. 1 approaches emergencies versus how (my) previous organizations do."
What: Polk County Fire District No. 1 public forum
When: Thursday, Aug. 15, 6 to 7 p.m.
Where: Polk No. 1 Central Station, 1800 Monmouth St., Independence
For more information: 503-838-1510