The Campbell County Joint Powers Fire Board unanimously selected Jeff Bender as the county's new fire chief. The department serves all of Campbell County including the town of Wright.
Bender previously served as a fire chief in California and has 30 years of firefighting experience. He has a degree in nursing and additional experience in trauma care and public health.
Fire Board Chairman Cory Bryngelson said Bender stood out as the best candidate for the job with his experience and personality.
"I believe the interview team really liked him. And I believe the firemen, from the ones I've talked to when they had the open house, they thought he'd do the best job also," he said.
Bryngelson said Bender plans to ease into the role before tackling any big projects, but he's already started to assess the fire department's personnel needs.
"One of the big things he'll be assigned . . . is . . . to find out . . . [if] we have the appropriate staffing, and is our organizational chart as good as it should be," he said.
Bender was selected from a pool of more than 60 applicants. Bryngelson said the board narrowed it down and brought three finalists to Gillette for in-person interviews.
Bryngelson said he was pleased with the number of quality applicants who applied for the job.
The board initiated the nationwide search earlier this year after the previous Fire Chief Bill Shank resigned from the position in August 2018. J.R. Fox has been serving in the interim. Fox said he will resume his original role as the division chief of operations for the department.
Bender currently lives in Montana with his family. He will receive a $115,000 yearly salary and will begin his position on June 24.