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Seneca names new fire chief

— After serving 48-days as interim fire chief, Jan Oliver was appointed Monday afternoon to head the department for the City of Seneca.

Mayor Dan Alexander and city administrator Greg Dietterick interviewed four candidates for the position from inside the department and selected Oliver for his leadership and experience, according to the mayor.

“I know Jan brings a lot to the table, 25-years of experience in fire protection, he is very well known throughout the community and respected by many,” said Alexander. “We are excited for him in being able to take on this leadership role.”

As Seneca Fire Chief, Oliver will receive an annual salary of approximately $62,500.

Oliver began working at the Seneca Fire Department as a volunteer in May 1985. Chief Richard Timms hired Oliver full-time in March 1986.

In 25 years with the city department, Oliver has risen in the ranks from lieutenant to fire marshal to captain and now chief.

“It still hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I’ve had support of the department, community, business owners, and it has just been like a whirlwind the past 40 days,” Oliver said. “I am just glad everything is now decided and we can move on and get back to life as normal doing our job.”

Oliver succeeds Shane Phillips, who left June 21 to take a similar job in Orange Beach, Ala., which is closer to his hometown. The mayor praised Phillips for the improvements he made to the department during the last five years and feels Oliver can raise the bar even higher.

“We feel Jan will be able to walk into the position with the experience he has and continue the success the department has had over the last several years,” said Alexander. “The bar has been raised very high and we look forward to continue working with the other departments and building relationships with them.”

Now that a chief is in place, the Seneca Fire Department will now begin to reorganize, as several leadership positions remain open.

Earlier this year, two shift captains retired, Bobby Brewer and Alan Rochester. Those positions as well as Oliver’s captain position need to be filled.

“Our lieutenants have done a great job serving as captains and now with Jan as chief, the city will begin to promote some of those individuals to round out the department,” said Alexander. “We are thankful to Shane Phillips for all the improvements he made and we are ready for Jan to continue that good work and leadership in the city.”

The mayor said that Oliver would do evaluations on prospective candidates and make recommendations to him before interviews are conducted.

“The mayor made a wise decision in taking applications locally on this particular position because we had several qualified people in-house,” said Seneca Mayor Pro Tem Ronnie O’Kelley. “That is a fair way of doing things because you work there your whole career and you want a chance at it, so I think the mayor made a wise decision in Jan. The community likes him and he knows the businesses extremely well. I think Jan will do an outstanding job for the citizens of this town.”

© 2011 Anderson Independent Mail. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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