Following last week”s resignation of Ann Arbor fire chief George Markus, the city of Ann Arbor has appointed Scott Rayburn as interim chief until a permanent replacement can be found.

Markus submitted his resignation to the city administrator last Monday, leaving office on Friday after 13 years of service. Rayburn, who took over this week, has been with the Ann Arbor fire department for 23 years and until Friday served as fire marshall.

“I feel I have a lot to offer the department and the city,” Rayburn said. “I know we can continue our excellent service.”

City administrator Neil Berlin, who appointed Rayburn and is overseeing the search for the permanent position, said at this point the city is searching for the new chief internally. Also being considered are Robert Lechtanski and Tom Edman, both assistant chiefs.

“Right now we are searching internally,” Berlin said. “I don”t know whether that will be the extent of the search.”

Rayburn said he will be applying for the position and is hopeful to serve the community on a permanent basis. He said one of his priorities is to expand community relations.

“I want to ensure we expand our mission and make customer service our number one goal,” Rayburn said. As chief, he would oversee a budget of more than $11 million, 124 firefighters and various stations throughout the city.

Rayburn said he wasn”t anticipating many changes in the department and looks forward to his working with the other members of the staff.

“I feel I”m lucky that we have a real good team,” Rayburn said. “There won”t be any drastic changes because none are really necessary.”

Rayburn added that he would stay with the department, “as long as they”ll have me.”

Berlin said the city will continue the internal process throughout the upcoming weeks until a permanent chief is chosen.

In addition to Rayburn”s appointment last night, the city council also approved the extension of interim police chief, Walter Lunsford”s, contract for an additional 90 days as the city continues to search for a police chief.

City officials plan to travel to Chicago on April 1 to meet with the Police Executive Research Firm in an effort to restart the search process for a chief.

The national firm was involved in the original process that brought prospective candidates to Ann Arbor in January to meet with city officials. The search was reopened at the beginning of this month and is ongoing.

Though the city will not interview the more than 300 prospective applicants in Chicago, Berlin said the trip will offer the search committee a chance to meet the candidates. The first round of applicants were taken out of consideration because city officials felt they did not meet the needs of Ann Arbor. Additional applicants are being located in the Michigan area as well as across the nation.

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