The process to hire a new chief for the Charleston Fire Department is expected to take until early 2020.
Fire Chief Rob Sutler retired from the department Friday, and his retirement puts into motion a defined process by which the Charleston Firefighters Civil Service Commission will select a new chief, said Matthew Sutton, chief of staff for Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin.
With Sutler’s retirement effective Friday, the city will petition the commission Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday, to begin the process.
“The city itself doesn’t have any part of that process,” Sutton said.
After receiving formal notification from the city, Sutton said, the commission will schedule a date for eligible candidates in the fire department to test for the position. Sutton said the Charleston commission allows for a 60-day study period before the test.
After the test, the commission has a formula that factors in applicants’ test scores and other factors, including their rank and years of service.
“The person with the highest score is the fire chief,” Sutton said.
Sutton said Friday he anticipates that the commission will announce a test date next week.
Sutler was sworn in as fire chief on April 17, 2018, under then-mayor Danny Jones. He worked as an assistant chief with the department from 2013 until his promotion.
He began working at the fire department in 1991.
Goodwin announced Sutler’s retirement during a Charleston City Council meeting Monday.
Sutton said city officials have been in touch with people who are eligible to test for the chief position, and, based on those conversations, he felt Sutler had set a good foundation for his successor.
“We’ve enjoyed working with Chief Sutler,” Sutton said. “It’s going to be a seamless transition, and we feel confident the fire department will be in good hands, no matter what the result is.”