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2024 Primary Election

Independence Fire printed in white on the side of a red fire engine

INDEPENDENCE, MO (May 1, 2024) - Members of the public will have the opportunity to meet the four finalists for the position of Fire Chief on Thursday, May 9, 2024, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM, at the Independence Uptown Market, 211 W. Truman Road, Independence, MO 64050. During this reception, the public will have an opportunity to meet each finalist in an informal setting, ask questions and share their feedback in writing or electronically.

The finalists were recently selected following a nationwide search that produced a field of 28 candidates from 13 different states.  Chuck Lauss has been serving as the Interim Fire Chief since August of last year following the retirement of Chief Doug Short.

The four finalists have been invited to participate in the onsite interview process scheduled for May 9-10, 2024.  The two-day process will include a Fire Department tour, interview sessions with City leadership, community stakeholders, union representatives, Independence Fire Department staff, and the City Manager, as well as the community reception.

FINALISTS

Christopher Young has more than 20 years of fire and emergency management experience.  He currently serves as the Assistant Fire Chief for the City of Liberty, MO, a position he has held since 2019.  He currently oversees Support Services in addition to taking on acting Fire Chief responsibilities in the Chief’s absence.  Chief Young advanced through the ranks with Liberty Fire Department from Firefighter/Paramedic (2007 – 2015) and then to Captain (2015 – 2019) before being promoted to his current position. Chief Young also serves as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Northland Fire Chiefs Council, volunteers as a member of the Mine Rescue Team, and is a Peer Fitness Trainer and Peer counselor. Chief Young earned his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from MidAmerica Nazarene University. Additional related experience includes serving as an Adjunct Instructor for Blue River Community College.

Jack Andrade has over 28 years of fire and emergency management experience, most recently serving as 1st Deputy Fire Chief for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County & Kansas City, KS.  In that role, he was responsible for Administration, Communications, Fire Prevention, Operations, Support Services, Training, and managing an operating budget of $75MM.  Prior leadership positions during his 20-year tenure with Kansas City include Senior Assistant Chief of Logistics (2017 – 2018) and EMS Transport Chief (2015 - 2017.) From 1998 to 2005, Chief Andrade advanced through the ranks of the Warrensburg Fire Department with promotions to frontline company officer as well as Health & Wellness Director.  Chief Andrade earned his bachelor’s degree in Conservation Enforcement from University of Central Missouri and a master’s degree in Occupational Safety Management/Fire Service also from the University of Central Missouri.  Additional related experience includes serving as an Adjunct Instructor for Kansas City Kansas Community College and achievement of the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

James Walker has more than 28 years of fire and emergency management experience, serving for the past 4 years as Assistant Chief for the Kansas City, MO Fire Department.  In his current role, Chief Walker is responsible for Suppression, Emergency Medical Services, Technical Rescue, Hazardous Materials, Aircraft Rescue and managing a total budget of $225MM.  He is also the Department’s liaison to the Kansas City Regional Fusion Center, Secret Service, Emergency Operations Center and the FBI.  Prior leadership positions during his 28-year tenure with Kansas City include Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal (2018 – 2020), Battalion Chief (2011 – 2018) and Fire Captain (2004 – 2011.) Chief Walker earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Western Governor’s University. 

Jeffrey Johnson has over 35 years of fire and emergency management experience, most recently serving as the Fire Chief for the City of Newport News, VA (2019 - 2023.)  In that role, Chief Johnson was responsible for all day-to-day Fire Department operations, overseeing a budget of $42MM with 402 authorized personnel for 11 Fire Stations.  Prior to that, he served briefly as the Fire Chief for the City of Salinas, CA and spent 22 years with the City of Kansas City, MO Fire Department.  Chief Johnson advanced through the ranks with Kansas City Fire to Captain, Battalion Chief, and ultimately served as Deputy Chief, Professional Standards from 2015 to 2018. Chief Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree in Fire Management from Columbia Southern University and his master’s degree in public administration from American Public University System. Additional related experience includes serving as an Adjunct Instructor for Blue River Community College and the University of Central Missouri.  Chief Johnson has achieved the Executive Fire Officer (EFO) designation through the National Fire Academy.

 

 

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