Fire Marshal Ned Sparks will serve as interim fire chief when Mark Miller retires until the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority hires a new chief to lead the department.
The Loveland Fire Rescue Authority Board selected Sparks at its meeting on Wednesday, and also chose Prothman Executive Recruitment out of Washington State to hold a nationwide search for a new chief.
Miller announced March 31 that he is retiring effective July 1, and the board began looking at the process to hire a new chief.
No internal candidates expressed interest, and the board decided to undergo a full nationwide search; Miller expects a new chief could take the reins by August or September.
But until that time, Sparks will lead the department, starting July 1.
“He’s the best person to keep the ship going straight,” said Miller.
Sparks joined the Loveland Fire Department in 1984 as a volunteer firefighter and was hired as a career firefighter four years later. Over the decades, he has served in almost every capacity possible with the department and has earned several honors including lifetime achievements for dive rescue and from the Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Miller said.
And while Sparks was adamant about not wanting the fire chief job permanently, according to Miller, he agreed to step up and serve as chief in the time between Miller’s retirement and the new chief’s arrival.
“He’s respected by the organization,” said Miller. “He’s served in just about every capacity that he could. That makes him very well-rounded, and he has a great perspective on the organization.”
Jeff Swanty, chair of the board, added, “He’s just really, really a great guy. He’s been part of the fabric of the department for so many years. He’ll do a great job.”
Now that the board has chosen Prothman, Swanty said the search will start as soon as possible, looking across the country to “get as broad a spectrum of candidates as we possibly can.” Both Swanty and Miller said a chief from outside the department could bring a new perspective and new ideas.