BRIDGEPORT — Sixteen people still have a shot at becoming the city's next fire chief.

Ralph Jacobs, the city's personnel director, would not identify the candidates on the advice of the City Attorney's Office.

Provisional Fire Chief Brian P. Rooney has expressed interest in the job, but has not confirmed whether he has formally applied. About a half-dozen city Fire Department employees were among those who initially applied, Jacobs said.

Rooney declined to comment Tuesday on whether he is a candidate, also citing the advice of the City Attorney's Office. He is paid $97,960 a year in his temporary leadership role.

When the pool of candidates is down to three, Mayor John M. Fabrizi will select one candidate to appoint to a five-year term. The city's charter allows for the fire chief, as well as the police chief, to serve two terms.

Meanwhile, Jacobs will have the 16 fire chief contenders reviewed by the consultant conducting the national search and designing the test.

A total of 32 people had applied for the job after the postmark deadline was extended by two 30-day terms to Dec. 14.

The fire chief pool will now be narrowed to eight candidates, who will be tested in a two-day "assessment center," involving management exercises. The exercise is slated for January.

Fire Chief Michael Maglione retired in January, before his second term ended, to lead Waterbury's department.

Meanwhile, Rooney said he hopes 16 new firefighters will be on the job by January. New firefighters are paid an annual base salary of $37,742.

They are undergoing physical exams.

Aaron Leo, who covers regional issues, can be reached at 330-6222.