Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle has appointed Mike Baledge, the city’s deputy fire chief and fire marshal, to be the city’s next fire chief.

Baledge was selected from among 20 candidates solicited from a nationwide search. He has 24 years of experience. He began his career as a volunteer firefighter and moved through the ranks from a paid-per-call volunteer to deputy chief, holding various leadership ranks and positions along the way, serving as an officer for 17 years.

“Our best emergency response is with paid-per-call firefighters, because they bring with them all the expertise of their trades, as well as their emergency-response training,” Baledge said.

In 2002, Baledge was hired by the Hailey Fire Department as a full-time staffer. In addition to his training and emergency-response duties, he took on the role of fire marshal, performing commercial-building-plan reviews and inspections.

Baledge is a state-certified EMT/instructor, and trains the community in CPR through various venues. He teaches firefighter essentials through the local firefighting academy, which trains new prospective firefighters every January. He holds a national wildland Type 5 Incident Command certification, and functions as engine boss and squad boss when deployed on wildland fires.

According to the city, it advertised for the fire chief position locally, statewide and through the International Fire Chiefs Association. Exiting Hailey Fire Chief Craig Aberbach worked with a staff team to review 20 applications. Haemmerle and the de-facto mayor-elect, Martha Burke, interviewed three Idaho candidates.

The transfer of command between Aberbach and Baledge occurred at the beginning of October.

During the past three weeks, as interviews and decisions were made, Baledge led the Hailey Fire Department through a structure fire and wildland fire response.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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