The City and County of Honolulu will enter the new year without a permanent fire chief.

The Honolulu Fire Commission on Wednesday again deadlocked 3-3 on whether to select Lionel Camara, Jr., the acting chief, or Sheldon Kalani Hao, the acting deputy chief.

But commissioners also voted unanimously to redo the search.

Charlotte Nekota, chair of the fire commission, said she would consult the city’s human resources department on the timeline for the hiring process.

Honolulu Fire Commission hearing Nov. 17, 2021.
Another meeting, another deadlock on a vote by the Honolulu Fire Commission for a new fire department chief. Screenshot/2021

The search will be open to people who applied for the job last year, including the two finalists, as well as to new candidates.

Former Honolulu Fire Department Chief Manuel Neves retired in February. Since then, Nekota, vice chair William Hong and commissioner Dennis Morton have favored Camara while commissioners Max Hannemann, Craig Nagamine and Nicholas W. Teves Jr. have supported Hao.

Some commissioners are said to have concerns about differences in the training records of the two chief finalists.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first for new commissioner David Matlin, the University of Hawaii director of athletics. While the City Council approved his appointment by Mayor Rick Blangiardi last month, Matlin agreed to abstain from voting on the fire chief until he had a chance to participate fully in the hiring process.

The Honolulu Fire Commission is scheduled to reconvene its work Jan. 19.

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