The Sedona Fire District is one step closer to finding its next chief.
On Thursday, Feb. 12, the SFD Governing Board selected two of six candidates to move forward.
Although eight candidates were originally chosen by the 16-member citizens’ committee, only six came to Sedona on Feb. 11 and 12 for the two-day assessment process.
The top two candidates, Norm Angelo of Washington, and Nazih Hazime of Michigan, were sent to Phoenix on Friday, Feb. 13, for a psychological evaluation.
Since the board discussed the candidates in Executive Session, board members could not comment on why the two were picked.
Angelo is a retired fire chief from King County Fire District No. 37 in Kent, Wash., and retired chief from El Segundo, Calif. He has 25 years experience as a chief.
In Washington, he served a population of 133,000 with a staff of 144 and a budget of $13.5 million.
In California, his budget was $12 million for 67 staff and a population of 75,000.
He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and certificates of achievement in fire science, supervision, public administration and liberal arts from community colleges.
He also has some classes under his belt for a master’s in business administration and plans to complete his degree, he said.
According to Angelo, his education didn’t come from his degrees but from the people in his life that gave him practical skills.
He is aware of the controversial year SFD has gone through and said a challenge isn’t going to stand in his way, but his values might.
If he were offered the job, he has certain values and basic principles that would have to be aligned with the district’s in order for him to accept, he said.
“I don’t need to be a fire chief that badly to accept values that I don’t agree with,” he said. “I have zero doubt about the members of that department. My question is where is that department going to be led ...”
During his short trip to Sedona, he saw exceptional attitudes that put SFD on the right path.
“They need to grow with someone, not someone showing them how good they are and how it needs to be done,” he said.
Hazime is in his fifth year as fire chief of Dearborn, Mich., a city of 100,000. He has a staff of 122 and deals with a $14 million budget.
He has an associate’s degree in fire science, is a National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer and a Eastern Michigan Fire Staff and Command graduate.
As for the tumultuous year SFD has been through with recalls, resignations and elections, Hazime said it’s just part of the business.
“That’s part of the responsibilities as fire chief,” he said. “You’re the liaison.”
He and his wife have vacationed in Sedona many times, Hazime said, and have always enjoyed hiking the red rocks and like the community.
A firefighter for 25 years, he got his start after watching a burning store in Detroit.
He watched the fire before the fire department arrived and waited the whole time, even sticking around to watch them pack up.
“The camaraderie and the work ethics were just fascinating to me, and I knew I wanted to be a firefighter,” he said.
According to SFD Human Resources Manager Mandi Garfield, the board may decide to send a few members or staff to the two finalists’ home towns in early March.
The board may vote on a new chief at the board meeting later that month, she said.