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In a surprise move, McLean names Meridian fire chief to lead Boise Fire

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean picked a familiar face as Boise’s new fire chief after all. 

On Monday, McLean announced her decision to hire Meridian Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer as Boise Fire Chief, effective November 30. The move comes after an extensive nationwide search named two out of state finalist candidates last month, neither of which were Niemeyer.

McLean named Adrian Sheppard, fire chief for Richmond California, and Phoenix Assistant Fire Chief Scott Walker as the two finalists in October. They both participated in a town hall to answer the public’s questions less than two weeks ago. Niemeyer did not participate in the session and the city did not mention it considered other options.

In response to questions about the hiring process for Niemeyer, city spokesman Seth Ogilvie said Niemeyer did not initially apply and was not in the original recruitment process. The decision to go with Niemeyer over the two finalists was made last Wednesday, according to Ogilvie.

“When it became clear he was the right choice, (McLean) reached out to him,” Ogilvie said.

[Analysis: Time of transition strikes friction between Boise’s mayor and (former?) fire chief]

In the announcement, McLean said she heard “loud and clear” Boiseans preferred a local candidate. 

“We are incredibly excited to welcome a leader that we’ve admired and respected for years,” McLean said in a press release. “We conducted a nationwide search to find the right person to lead the department. Going through that process, it became clear that Chief Niemeyer was always the right person for the job, and he was just up the road.”

Niemeyer’s long history with Meridian

Niemeyer led Meridian’s fire department for over a decade and worked for the Ada County Paramedics for a decade before joining the Meridian Fire Department as a Deputy Chief. He currently serves as Meridian’s Emergency Operations Manager and has worked on the city’s response to COVID-19. 

“The opportunity to lead the Boise Fire Department is something I’ve spent my career preparing for,” Niemeyer said in the release. “I will be focused on building strong relationships throughout the City as well as incorporating data and technology, along with the thoughts and ideas of the men and women at the Boise Fire Department, to tackle public safety issues.”

City Council President Elaine Clegg also praised the selection of Niemeyer, and referenced Boise’s request for a local candidate. 

“We heard what the public and the fire department wants and needs,” she wrote in the release. “I believe Chief Niemeyer has the experience, local knowledge, and forward-thinking ideas to fit seamlessly into our fire department and work with our community partners throughout the valley. Chief Niemeyer will deliver.”

McLean put former Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan on leave earlier this year, and he later resigned his position.

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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