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Cloquet Area Fire District to begin search for assistant chief after organizational shuffle

Fire Chief Jesse Buhs presented his recommendation to end the search for the district administrative director position and instead search internally for an assistant fire chief to carry out the needed duties.

Cloquet Area Fire District headquarters
Cloquet Area Fire District Headquarters.
Jamey Malcomb / 2020 file / Pine Journal
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SCANLON — The Cloquet Area Fire District will cease its search for a district administrative director position and instead begin the search for an assistant fire chief, after the request was made by Fire Chief Jesse Buhs during the district's board meeting, Wednesday, May 18.

Buhs said the assistant chief position would take on the duties the district administrative director would have but have more oversight into the operation of the district.

"It was a missing piece in the organization," he said.

The proposal had the recommendation of the district's human resources committee, and was approved unanimously by the board.

Buhs said the district would look internally for a candidate for the position.

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Another benefit to having the position is that the district now has a better chain of command as well as a succession plan, according to Buhs.

The assistant chief position will also take the place of the administrative director's position in the budget.

The district board also approved the work agreement and contract for Buhs during the meeting.

Buhs' contract was approved at a step four level and is for $114,500 per year.

The human resources committee had recommended an automatic increase to the next step come January 2023, but board members decided it would best be brought up during the performance review at the end of the year.

Board Chair Linda Way, who is a member of the human resources committee, took the time to praise Buhs for his work as chief so far.

"We feel the chief has earned this salary and is entitled to it," she said.

Way said the step four payment level was initially requested by Buhs, but some board members thought the chief should be set at a higher step for his work.

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Buhs thanked the board for their support of him so far.

"I appreciate it and it's more official now," he said.

Buhs added that while he always felt he had support from the board, the official signing affirms his efforts are taking the district in the right direction.

The board also discussed its expired mutual aid agreements with Carlton County area providers.

Buhs had two proposed minor changes, including making the agreements perpetual.

Board member Jason Paulson asked why the district has its own agreement when there is a Carlton County mutual aid agreement.

Buhs said this gives the district better liability protection and allows for the district to supervise its own crews regardless of the site.

The board ultimately voted to table the agreement, while maintaining the current mutual aid agreement, in order for the district's legal counsel to provide input.

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MORE FROM DYLAN SHERMAN:
The city of Carlton held a meeting to start the discussion on changes to the Carlton Ambulance Service and possibly increasing funding from the municipalities it serves.

Related Topics: CLOQUET
Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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