New Ocean City Fire Chief Is Still Provisional
Christopher Breunig must take a civil service exam to be titled as a chief.
The appointment of a new fire chief in Ocean City will not be permanent until he completes a civil service exam to be certified in the new rank.
The city announced the appointment of Christopher Breunig "effective immediately" on July 12. But in a news release that day and at a City Council meeting later that night, the city administration made no mention of Breunig's provisional status.
Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo confirmed Thursday that Breunig — like each of the final candidates for the fire chief's position — has yet to take the civil service exam.
New Jersey's Civil Service Commission is projecting an announcement of new tests for Aug. 1. Captains and deputy chiefs with a certain level of supervisory experience in the Ocean City Fire Department would be eligible to take the exam, which is comprised of detailed oral questions. If the 2012 tests follow a schedule similar to the 2011 process, eligibility lists would be issued in December.
In New Jersey, municipalities follow the "rule of three" — the hiring authority can pick from any of the top three scorers on the exams. If several other candidates for the Ocean City chief's position choose to take the civil service exam, Breunig will have to rank among the top three to retain his position on a permanent basis.
If he does not, a new appointment will have to be made, according to Dattilo.
Ocean City did not make public a list of the final candidates for the provisional chief's position, but a post on the Ocean City Firemen's Benevolent Association Local 27 Facebook page wished Deputy Chief Charlie Bowman, Capt. Bob Stanton, Capt. Scott Goucher, Capt. Jim Smith and Breunig good luck during the interview process.
Breunig, 43, is a 16-year veteran of the Ocean City Fire Department and has served as a captain for nine years. He has extensive training in fire and paramedic services, according to the city. The fire chief's salary in Ocean City is set by ordinance at $126,553 annually.
The chief's position had been filled by Deputy Chief Bowman since the retirement of Chief Joseph Foglio on Oct. 1, 2011. The Civil Service Commission ruled last week that Bowman could not serve a dual role as a deputy chief and an acting chief. The ruling forced Ocean City to designate a separate provisional chief and deputy chief, Breunig said on Friday.
Bowman retained his position as deputy chief, and Breunig was appointed as provisional chief.
The appointment of Breunig leaves an open captain's position, and retirements have left the department with three other open positions. Breunig said the posts will be filled after an analysis of the department's operations and budget.