MARICOPA, AZ – Maricopa Fire Chief Wade Brannon plans to step down from the fire department’s top post, saying an individual who has more experience operating in larger cities should take the reins.
Brannon’s announcement this week comes on the heels of the local fire union’s vote of no confidence against the fire chief, but both Brannon and city spokeswoman LaTricia Woods said the vote had no effect on Brannon’s decision and the chief had discussed with the city manager a possible position change within the department weeks prior to the vote.
“The final decision happened to coincide right as the union vote was taking place,” Woods said. “But one was not dependent on the other, or vice versa. It was just timing.”
Brannon said Maricopa is becoming one of the fastest growing cities in the country again with a recovering economy, and that will present new challenges for the department.
“As the city reaches its tipping point, as it starts to grow again, there’s going to be some new challenges, new opportunities – those challenges and opportunities that are associated with larger cities,” he said.
Brannon said he spoke a few weeks ago with interim City Manager Patricia Sorensen about stepping aside and assuming a different role in the department.
“We’re really excited about the future of Maricopa, but as it evolves into a larger city, I think that bringing in a leader for the fire department who’s experienced in larger cities, larger organizations and the rapid growth that we’re going to encounter again would really help the fire department and the city reach its potential,” he said.
Fire department spokesman Jon Sheaffer confirmed last week the Professional Firefighters of Maricopa, Local 4561, held a special meeting Aug. 28 regarding a vote of no confidence against Wade. Sheaffer could not give any other details.
Local 4561 is a member of the International Association of Firefighters Union, which represents firefighters and paramedics throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Dan Ashton, president of Local 4561, said the union would not comment about the vote at this time, but it might issue a press release in the near future.
“As a union, we have no comment because we’re still working with the city manager and she’s doing a great job working with us,” Ashton said.
Brannon joined the department in July 2005 after working as a captain and acting deputy chief with the Gila River Fire Department. Before becoming Maricopa’s fire chief in July 2010, he served as interim fire chief for about two years until he secured a bachelor’s degree – a necessary requirement for the job.
Woods said there has yet to be a decision on what new role Brannon will take. She said that discussion is underway between Sorenson and Brannon.