PIEDMONT -- The hunt is on for a new fire chief to replace Ed Tubbs, who is retiring at the end of May.

Tubbs, who was doing double-duty as chief for Piedmont and Albany, announced his decision Jan. 3.

The two cities had been splitting his pay. Tubbs joined the Piedmont Fire Department in August 2010 and agreed to split his time between the two cities beginning in April 2011. The pilot program was extended two more years in April 2012.

While Piedmont had a cost savings of $136,000 per year for sharing Tubbs, the Piedmont City Council in February decided to return to a full-time chief for Piedmont and terminated its sharing agreement with Albany.

The uncertainty of a new chief accepting a shared arrangement led to the council's decision.

Applications closed April 19 for the position, City Administrator Geoff Grote said this week. Recruitment is being handled by Bob Murray and Associates, the same consultants who recommended new police chief Rikki Goede as a top candidate for consideration. Grote said 60 applications were received for the fire chief position.

"The consultant will review the applications and bring a list of the most qualified finalists to the City Council," Grote said.

He added that the consultant has narrowed the field down to 13 at this time, "but will present us with a smaller list of viable candidates to talk to."

The council usually interviews the top three or four finalists to make a final hiring decision.

If a new fire chief is not hired by the time Tubbs leaves, an interim chief will be appointed, Grote said.

"It could be someone from the ranks or perhaps a retired chief," he said.

Tubbs' predecessor, John Speakman, agreed to stay on several months past his retirement target until his replacement was hired. Tubbs has not indicated that he will stay past May.

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