Spotlight: Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Bayside’s fire chief has resigned from the position just over two months after he took charge of the volunteer station. 

Chris Smith, who moved from Canton, Ohio, to take the job, tendered his resignation from the top post at Bayside at the end of December, said Paul VanDyke, chair of the Fire Protection Area 1 Board. 

Smith’s first day was Oct. 19, and his last day will be Jan. 10. VanDyke said that assistant chief Doug McNeil will be in charge. 

“He cited personal reasons,” VanDyke said about why Smith chose to leave. 

“That’s all I feel comfortable sharing out of respect for him. … He wasn’t fired, he wasn’t let go. It was wholly his decision.” 

Smith did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails. 

He was hired after an extensive search process that began last spring and included an in-person interview in Kodiak. Former chief Howard Rue III had informed the borough of his intention to step down in December 2019. Rue eventually left in November 2020. 

Smith had an extensive background in firefighting, having been in the business since 2000. Before coming to Kodiak, he had spent six years as the fire chief for Canton Township, a 24-hour, professional department that covered about 14,000 people. 

VanDyke said that the Fire Protection Area 1 Board would start the hiring process over again, but notify the others who had applied before that the position was open again. Only nine people applied for the position when it was originally posted. 

He said the board is considering tweaking the job description to attract more applicants this time around. 

“There were some questions around what was in the job description that may have weeded out potential candidates who looked at it and said, ‘Oh, I don’t have those qualifications, so I’m not going to apply,’” VanDyke said. 

Starting the process in the spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic was emerging, probably didn’t help either. 

“That may have clouded the applicant pool, with people not knowing what the future holds,” he said. 

Smith did receive a relocation stipend to move to Kodiak equivalent to one month of salary. According to the borough’s personnel manual, anyone who leaves their job after less than a year has to give back their relocation stipend. 

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