Fire Chief John Cassesa will reach the mandatory retirement age of 65 this June. He is leaving the force after 40 years on the force and 13 years of as chief.
Police Chief Dr. Carmen LaBruno announced his early retirement this year after a police scandal was widely reported in the media (see cover story). He spent 37 years on the force and 17 years as chief.
Acting Police Chief Robert Lisa and Acting Fire Chief Richard Blohm are currently running the departments, as both LaBruno and Cassesa are using up vacation time before their retirements. LaBruno and Cassesa are also aiding in the transition period, said Public Safety Director Bill Bergin.
Bergin was hired by the city last November to oversee both the fire and police, especially because of the tumultuous SWAT scandal (see cover story).
Police exam not until December
From a list of six police captains, Bergin promoted Robert Lisa to acting chief in April.
"[Lisa]'s well-respected throughout the ranks of the department," Bergin said. "The captains felt the same way."
The position of police chief cannot be officially filled until LaBruno retires. And at that time, any Hoboken police captain can file for the chief's test, administered by the state.
The city will then choose a chief from the applicants.
Besides Lisa, there are five other captains eligible to take the test: Anthony Falco, James Fitzsimmons, Edelmiro Garcia, Anthony Romano, and Daniel Simone.
The application deadline is July 1, the day after LaBruno is scheduled to retire, but the test doesn't take place until December.
The test is an oral exam. It is video taped and then reviewed by a board of retired police chiefs.
The timeline of events means that Lisa will likely head the force well into 2009, until tests are scored and the administration makes a determination.
Fire chief exam in 2009
Bergin assigned Richard Blohm, who was a deputy chief, to acting chief after Cassesa's retirement became imminent last November.
"[Blohm] is extremely involved with many facets within fire service," Bergin said. He said that Blohm is active in various training programs and also in fire service instruction.
The position of deputy chief was eliminated from the table of organization this year, so the chief test will be open to Blohm and nine Hoboken battalion chiefs (if they meet certain qualification requirements): Daniel Cunning, Brian Greene, Joseph LaBruno, Richard LaDage, Steven Manzetti, Kenneth Metcalfe, Frank Palmissano, Henry Setkiewicz, and Michael Turner.
May 1, 2009 is the application deadline for the next fire chief's test, which is slated for November of 2009.
Thus, Blohm will be in control of the force until the test can be graded and a new chief appointed, most likely in 2010.
Story clarification made June 2, 2008
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