There was little question that the interim administration of the Verde Valley Fire District would keep those jobs when the board considered their permanent appointment this week.
Jerry Doerksen has officially been named chief, and Mike Flummer assistant chief, with the fire board's approval Tuesday night.
"There was never any question. We were very confident in Jerry and Mike, especially considering Mary Shanks is in the position as the administration business manager," said Verde Valley Fire Board Chairman Thomas "Buddy" Rhodes.
"They have gone through a rigorous application process. Jerry has always been a known commodity around the Verde Valley. The fact that he is able to fill the shoes of Don Eberle so quickly and competently speaks very highly of him."
Rhodes said he was also impressed by the fact that the pair constantly talked about "the team, not me or I."
The board met at Station 32 Tuesday night since because meetings are rotated between the two main firehouses.
Doerksen said the board has been very good to work with and very supportive during the interim. "I'm glad they put that faith in me"
The chief's plans are already on the books to continue improvements in the district.
"Former Chief Don Eberle did an awesome job in improving the system, upgrading the manpower and building a new station." He said it was an efficient operation that Eberle handed him.
Doerksen's immediate concern is to prepare for a blistering wild land fire season. With little rain, real dry fuels and with high wind expected, "we could see a fire season like the early fires in Oklahoma this winter."
Plans are also under way to develop a technical rescue swift water team to be ready when high water comes again in the Verde Valley.
"We also must continue to work with other agencies, according to Doerksen. We need the numbers to fight fires, for technical rescue and develop a Hazmat response."
The biggest challenge for the department, according to Doerksen, will be the continuing "struggle to change from volunteer to career departments. The community and the culture has changed and going to a full-time, rather than volunteer, department means more money. He says an ongoing goal will be "to have more manpower on the engines."
Doerksen says all the apparatus are new within the last five years and up to standards. Captain Raton also has an ongoing training program to improve fire fighter skills.
Rhodes says the District is a "well-oiled machine." Eberle did wonderful job, and we have very talented men and captains. There was never a concern whether we could continue to provide quality service."