Arizona man gets job as next fire chief

Retired firefighter with 37 years of experience chosen from five finalists, including three Saukville department members

Thad Trinko
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

A longtime Arizona firefighter has accepted an offer from the Village of Saukville to become its new fire chief.

The village Finance Committee voted Monday to extend the offer to Thad Trinko, a former battalion chief and training officer for the Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Fire Department, 

Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said Wednesday that Trinko had accepted the offer.

According to his application, Trinko served 37 years with the Lake Havasu City department as a full-time firefighter, from 1976 to 2012. 

The department has six stations and more than 70 firefighters serving a community of about 53,000 people in western Arizona, according to the application.

Trinko retired as the department’s battalion chief and training officer. He lives in Lake Havasu City.

Trinko was chosen over four other candidates, including three current members of the Saukville Fire Department.

The other finalists were:

• Matt Geib,  a 32-year member of the Saukville department and assistant chief the past 11 years. 

• Dale Izydorek, a retired battalion fire chief with the Mount Pleasant Fire Department.

• Jason Laabs, a captain with the Saukville department and a member for 19 years.

• Eric Paulus, a member of both the Fredonia and Saukville fire departments with 22 years experience.

Trinko replaces Gilly Schultz, who retired in September after 19 years as chief and 44 years with the department. 

In a related matter, the committee was told Monday the fire department command structure should be downsized.    

Steve Riffel, a consultant with Community Security Solutions (CSS) told committee members that eliminating the two assistant chief positions would improve the flow of communication in the department.

“If you look at other departments, even bigger than Saukville, there are not as many command-level positions” as Saukville has, Riffel said.

Geib is currently leading the department on fire calls while Riffel is serving as the administrative lead under a contract with the village that runs to the end of the year.

The other assistant chief position has been vacant since Jim Schlegel retired in June.

“The captain positions can handle those (assistant chief) responsibilities. They’re doing it now without any issues that I can see. I do really think it’s in the best interest of the department to make those changes and eliminate those two positions,” Riffel said.

After CSS officials studied department operations and interviewed many of its members, a report concluded there was a high degree of dedication and pride in the department, but there were “major  fundamentals that need immediate attention.”

The report called for improvements in personnel policy development and training for administrative staff in personnel management and employment law.

In August, the village contracted with CSS to also assist in finding a new chief.

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