The timeline for finding a new Pendleton fire chief is still indefinite, but the position has interest from the man currently leading the department.

Interim Fire Chief Paul Berardi said Wednesday that he intends to apply for the permanent position once it opens.

“I like what I’ve learned so far,” he said about his time in Pendleton. “It’s a nice place.”

While Berardi has expressed interest, when he’ll get to apply for the position is still an open question.

The city contracted with Western Fire Chiefs Association to conduct a job search for a new chief.

City Manager Robb Corbett said the association told him it would begin advertising the position after Jan. 1, but he hasn’t heard back about a timeline for the hiring process.

Whenever the job is open to candidates, Corbett said he expected the process to go ahead as planned.

Berardi came to Pendleton in October after a 31-year career as a firefighter for the fire department in Kansas City, Missouri, culminating in a five-year stint as fire chief before retiring in 2017.

The Western Fire Chiefs Association recommended Pendleton hire Berardi in an interim capacity after it determined that late 2018 was not the right time to hire a permanent chief due to several vacancies at other departments.

Pendleton hasn’t had a permanent fire chief since April, when former Fire Chief Mike Ciraulo abruptly retired.

Corbett and Ciraulo declined to comment on the circumstances behind Ciraulo’s departure. But performance evaluations revealed conflict between Ciraulo and Police Chief Stuart Roberts, who supervises the fire chief position as public safety director.

Assistant Fire Chief Shawn Penninger filled in as chief before Berardi’s hire.

When the city does fill the fire chief role permanently, the new hire will earn between $86,676-$115,764.

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