LIHUE — Kauai Fire Department Chief Robert Westerman is retiring before the end of the week, but the fire commission has not decided who his successor will be.
The commission held an executive session at the end of its monthly meeting Monday, which the agenda said was “to deliberate and make a decision on the hiring of a new fire chief,” but the hour-long private discussion did not produce any clear result.
Deputy Chief Kilipaki Vaughan appears to be one logical choice for the job. As deputy, Vaughan ranks second in command to the chief and is very familiar with the job. Vaughan said Monday that the two positions are virtually identical as far as day-to-day tasks are concerned.
Westerman would not divulge who he thought the commission’s selection would be, but appeared to consider it a foregone conclusion. While waiting outside the meeting room during the commission’s executive session, Westerman said he thought the discussion would be a brief one.
“They just have to vote,” he said.
But certainty waned as the afternoon dragged on, and the commissioners drifted out of the room over an hour later with no news to report.
There has been some quiet speculation among people familiar with the matter that former Deputy Chief John Blalock might be chosen for the position.
Blalock retired in 2016 after more than two decades with the fire department. He currently lives on Oahu and could not be reached for comment.
“The Fire Commission is committed to choose the right person to the lead the Kaua‘i Fire Department,” Fire Commission Chair Thomas Nizo said in a press release.
Fire chief earns praise
LIHUE — The Fire Commission would like to extend a heartfelt mahalo to Chief Robert Westerman for his 20 years of outstanding public service, and congratulate him on his retirement.
“Thank you to Chief Westerman for his dedication and service to our community, and for setting a high standard for the Kaua‘i Fire Department and our firefighters,” said Thomas Nizo, Fire Commission chair. “We wish him the best of luck in retirement.”
The Fire Commission meets on the first Monday of each month in Meeting Room 2A/2B at the Līhu‘e Civic Center at 2 p.m.