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Falls searching for new fire chief, department heads

   NIAGARA FALLS -- Jobs are hard to come by these days, but if you have experience in public safety, human resources or development, you may be in luck.

   The city is accepting applications for fire chief, HR director and community development director positions, according to City Administrator Donna Owens.  

   The department head positions were recently vacated with the retirements of Robert Antonucci (development) and Joyce Mardon-Serianni (HR), but the city has been without a fire chief since Roger Melchior was fired in February. 

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   Mayor Paul A. Dyster has pointed to political instability as a reason for the fire chief vacancy. Since the chief serves at the pleasure of the mayor, Dyster said it was difficult to attract candidates before he won re-election in November. If he had lost, another mayor could have come in and appointed his own chief.

   Another issue we documented in an investigative story was the fire chief's $83,900 salary, which in some cases was up to $60,000 lower than what battalion chiefs and other underlings were making. The disparity was a function of overtime and other benefits the chief isn't eligible for.

   City Controller Maria C. Brown said Monday that despite the absence of a chief, the fire department has kept overtime costs "very reasonable." 

   The city has received two applications for the fire chief position, Owens said, and would like to fill all three spots "as expeditiously as possible."

   Applications will be accepted for all three positions until Jan. 26, she said. Owens can be contacted at donna.owens@niagarafallsny.gov, and job qualifications and submission information is posted here.

   -News Niagara Reporter Charlie Specht 

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