Orange City Council to vote on fire chief during special-called meeting

Published 12:30 am Saturday, May 28, 2022

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Orange City Council members are expected to appoint a new fire chief when they meet next week for a special-called meeting.

The council is meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the agenda calls for elected leaders to consider approving John Bilbo as fire chief.

According to City Manager Mike Kunst, the process to attract and interview candidates has been productive, leading to the best possible leader.

“One thing I told soon-to-be Chief Bilbo, I sincerely feel he is the best candidate for the job. He is the best person to be the fire chief,” Kunst said. “It does take steps, but I said all along we were going to open it up. We got like 35 applicants from all over the place, but we narrowed it down to the four finalists and interviewed three of those. (Bilbo) was the best of all of those. I am excited about moving forward.”

Earlier this month, Kunst told Orange Newsmedia that a selection committee narrowed the finalists to Bilbo, Terence Simon, Robert Smith Jr. and Todd Weidman.

The chief’s position became available following the recent retirement of longtime leader David Frenzel, who served the city for 53 years.

David Frenzel

Also this year, Deputy Fire Chief Lee Anne Brown announced her retirement effective March 11. Brown said she was continuing her fire prevention career in the industrial setting, working for the Chevron Phillips facility in Orange.

“Chief Bilbo will really have the opportunity to make that department his own,” Kunst said, adding he would consult on the hiring of a new deputy chief but the decision is ultimately made by the fire chief.

Bilbo, an Orange firefighter with many years of experience, also served as the fire marshal for the city, “so he’ll have to find somebody to take over that role, also,” Kunst said.

According to the city manager, Bilbo’s combination of experience, fresh ideas and energy are going to benefit Orange.

Tuesday’s city council meeting is open to the public, does include scheduled deliberation in closed session and takes place at the City Council Chambers in the Orange Public Library Auditorium, 220 N. Fifth St.

Former Deputy Fire Chief Lee Anne Brown