Brian Schaeffer earned all seven votes on the Spokane City Council to serve as the next fire chief Monday night, a rare sign of unity for a mayoral appointment – at least in recent months.
Schaeffer, who served as interim chief following the announced retirement of longtime department head Bobby Williams late last year, earned Mayor David Condon’s appointment following a hiring process that drew some controversy after an internal email urged department heads to support his candidacy at a public forum last month.
Several citizens, employees and regional fire officials told the council that Schaeffer was best suited for the job.
“Brian has, and continues to grow personally and professionally, for this job,” said Williams, who led the department for nearly three decades and hired Schaeffer in 2005. “He knows the city, he knows the fire department, he knows the community.”
Airway Heights Fire Chief Mitch Metzger said Schaeffer had the backing of regional firefighters.
“Brian Schaeffer is, without a doubt, someone already tied in, and somebody who represents your city very, very well, and is a regional player that we can’t do the job without,” Metzger said.
In brief comments before the vote, Schaeffer said serving the department was “a privilege.”
“I’m very proud of this community,” he said. “I’ll continue to lead the organization the way it’s been led the last 28 years.”
The questions raised about impartiality in the hiring process didn’t dissuade City Council members from offering their full-throated support of Schaeffer, which eluded Condon’s appointees for police chief, human resources director and, most recently, city attorney.
“I am so pleased that I will be able to support you, and we’re going to go forward and do great things,” City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said before the vote.
Public testimony also was unanimous in its support for Schaeffer, including from frequent council opponent George McGrath, who questioned why the city needed to look outside for a candidate.
“As far as I’m concerned, hey, Brian ain’t getting no opposition from me,” McGrath said.
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