City Officials Introduce New Casper Fire Chief Tom Solberg
The new chief of the Casper Fire-EMS Department sees his hiring from a couple of perspectives.
"It's a double-edged sword coming in as an outsider," Tom Solberg said at a news conference at Casper City Hall on Friday.
"Certainly I have a very diverse background over my almost 40-year career," Solberg said. "I also understand that a lot of things that worked in my other agencies and departments in cities may not work exactly here. There's going to be pieces and parts that do."
He intends to meet with Casper Fire-EMS personnel to better understand what the department is doing well, what it can enhance, and apply his experience to make changes, he said. "But certainly I'm not to jump right to make any significant changes until I better understand all the issues."
Monday, the Casper City Manager's Office announced Solberg was the new fire chief.
He had worked in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, for four years before coming to Casper. He starts April 30.
Solberg, 59, started as a paramedic firefighter at age 19 at Lee Summit, Mo., and worked his way up through the ranks and was chief there for nine years when he took an early retirement after 30 years, he said.
He re-entered his career in the Phoenix area for three years, taught fire training at Montana State University, and went to Pleasant Hill to care for his ailing father.
Friday, City Manager Carter Napier complimented the Casper Fire-EMS Department for weathering a rough time after former Chief Kenneth King retired early. Emails obtained by a Wyoming newspaper last fall revealed King used his city email account to send suggestive messages to women and make sexual comments about women's appearances to other fire personnel.
"It speaks to the resiliency of the department," Napier said.
The city launched a nationwide search, received 28 applications, winnowed that to three finalists, and chose Solberg, he said. "It was worth the wait."
Napier also thanked Jason Speiser, who was appointed interim fire chief on Dec. 1 after King resigned.
The hiring of Solberg was the latest of a series of high-profile replacements of city officials, and Napier had many of those new officials join him at the table at the news conference in the city council meeting room.
They included Police Chief Keith McPheeters, City Attorney John Henley, Chief Financial Officer Tom Pitlick, and Napier himself.