Two more interview for fire chief’s job

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, August 11, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Niles Township Board of Trustees is one step closer to filling the vacant Fire Chief position after wrapping up interviews with applicants Tuesday night.
The board must look at every aspect of the candidates' qualifications and contact references before moving forward to second interviews, William Myers said.
Myers, Niles Township supervisor, said the board wants to be confident it is making the best decision.
The first applicant interviewed was Janis "John" Smit of Texas Township in Michigan, near Kalamazoo. Smit is currently assistant chief at the Texas Township Fire Department. He is single.
Smit has an associate's degree in fire science from Kellogg Community College, and bachelor's and master's degrees in public administration from Western Michigan University.
Smit has been a volunteer firefighter for 26 years with the Texas Township Fire Department and a public safety officer with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety for 17 years.
Smit said he uses a "participant" style of management where he takes ideas from everybody in the department and delegates responsibility to foster a sense of ownership in the department.
He also believes it is important for a chief to be a "working chief," one that participates in training exercises and works among his crew, not above them, Smit said.
Smit seemed to falter a bit when asked for specific actions he would take in emergency situations.
Smit also admitted he never had experience in negotiating with unions about contracts.
In contrast to Smit, Niles Township Interim Fire Chief Gary Brovold lacks higher education. However, his resume indicates he has a wealth of one-the-job training.
Brovold, a firefighter for 21 years, has held the Interim Fire Chief position since it was vacated by Craig Lear in February 2004.
Brovold, a lifelong Niles resident, lives with his wife, Karen, and their daughter, Claire-Elizabeth, in Niles.
Brovold seemed to portray a no-nonsense attitude about him. He's not afraid to make some people uncomfortable if it gets the job done, he said.
Brovold said he thinks the department is a family and wants to be part of that family in the best capacity he can.
A constant planner is how Brovold describes himself, often waking to work on ideas that come to him in the middle of the night, he said.
Brovold said one of his negative qualities is that he overextends himself to help other people.
When the department planned to buy new equipment, Brovold was the first to arrive at every meeting and the last to leave, he said.
If selected, Brovold expects the department the department to flourish and grow with the township as it grows.
It should be noted that the applicant who did not show up to Monday's interview, Judith Hoffman, removed herself from consideration before he scheduled interview via e-mail.