The next chief fire officer of one of England's largest counties could come from outside the fire service, it has emerged.
Essex's current chief fire officer Adam Eckley will retire next April.
Roger Hirst, Essex's Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner, said people with military and commerce backgrounds had applied.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the next fire chief should be a "uniformed member" of the service.
It is understood the role has also attracted applicants from senior fire service figures as well as managers from other blue light services.
Recruitment for the position is being managed by GatenbySanderson, which has drawn up a long list of 30 names for the £140,000 role.
"It has not been simply restricted to brigade managers or senior officers," said Mr Hirst, in a briefing to the county's police, crime and fire panel. "We have cast the net a bit wider than that.
"I would be surprised if the person we take does not have some fire service experience."
He said among the applicants were people who had experience of the fire service but had done "stints" in management in other fields since.
Alan Chin-Shaw, secretary of the FBU in Essex, said: "The FBU is strongly of the opinion that the chief fire officer should be a uniformed member of staff and have been competent in all roles in the fire service.
"Industry competence is vital in making strategic decisions for Essex Fire Service and by not employing a chief fire officer it undermines the operational and training side of the service and reduces the number of operational officers who can make operational decisions at large scale incidents."
The chief fire officer will be responsible for 51 stations and a population of 1.7m people.