Interim fire chief leads department search

Temporary leader helps oversee process of finding permanent replacement after Schultz’s retirement
Ozaukee Press Staff

Candidates to be Saukville’s new fire chief will be interviewed in the coming weeks, the village’s interim fire chief said.

“We have candidates and we are doing a nationwide search. We  have received a number of applications and will proceed with a number of interviews in the next week or so,” Steve Riffel said.

Riffel is managing partner of Community Security Solutions, a Kewaskum-based consulting firm that was hired by the village in June to do a review of the Saukville Fire Department and help lead the search to replace Gilly Schultz, who retired as fire chief last month after 44 years with the department and 19 as chief.

Even though he bears the title of interim fire chief, Riffel said he is more of an interim administrator, leaving the firefighting and day-to-day management of the department to Assistant Chief Matt Geib.

“He and his officers were assisting Gilly and they’re continuing to do the fire scene stuff,” Riffel said. “Really, nothing has changed. We have not replaced Gilly.” 

Saukville fire department officers also have been invited to apply for fire chief, Riffel said.

“Our priority is to find the best candidate,” he said.

Riffel is the former police chief in Sheboygan Falls and became its director of public safety, overseeing both the police and fire departments. He also is past president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association. 

In 2014, he created Community Security Solutions, or CSS, with three other partners who had police and fire-fighting backgrounds, after they saw a need among local departments for more consistent training and policy development.

“We knew each other through law enforcement circles. We certainly felt we had some things we could give back to the community. It was sort of a kitchen-table conversation,” he said.

“One of the main things we do is review and conduct analyses of police and fire departments for municipalities,” he said. “We also do some private contract investigative research.”

In its report to the village, CSS said it interviewed many fire department members and found that while there was a high degree of dedication and pride in the department, there were “major  fundamentals that need immediate attention.”

Those included a “perceived lack of consistent personnel management.” The report called for improvements in personnel policy development and training for administrative staff in personnel management and employment law.

“Many (department) members perceived personnel are not managed effectively and there is a perception of inconsistent application of corrective action (discipline),” the report stated. 

In August, the village contracted with CSS to also assist in finding Schultz’s replacement.

Schultz was paid $8,000 a year, plus additional pay for training and being on-call.

The village job posting for his replacement sets a total pay range of  $15,000 to $17,000 from the three categories.

CSS will be paid $30,000, plus expenses, to serve as fire chief and for the search for a new chief. Its contract runs through Dec. 13.

Saukville also is discussing whether to negotiate with the City of Port Washington in building a fire station on the city’s west side but which lies within the Saukville sewer service area. It would be costly to extend sewer service to the site.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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