The Lake Township trustees have decided to hire a new fire chief and to make the position full-time – and do it quickly.
Interim fire chief Mike Hornyak informed the trustees he intends to resign the post in two weeks, saying the demands of his private sector job leave insufficient time for the duties of chief.
The trustees Tuesday agreed to advertise the position and to select a candidate during their Aug. 20 meeting.
“We have wonderful people in our fire department but they need leadership,” Melanie Bowen, chairman of the board of trustees, said in making the argument for a full-time chief. “We’ve got to have somebody good at the helm.”
She said many of the responsibilities of fire chief need to be addressed during the day but many on the volunteer department’s roster have full-time jobs.
Trustees Ron Sims and Richard Welling agreed a full-time chief is needed.
“I said in the past we need a full-time chief,” Sims said.
Bowen said she has met with Bruce Moritz, chief of the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District, for his input on preparing a job description for a full-time chief. Samples of job descriptions used by other area departments were provided to her, she said.
A draft of a job description written by Bowen calls for Lake Township candidates to be a level 1 and 2 firefighter in Ohio and to be a certified fire safety inspector and emergency medical technician. Candidates must also have 10 years experience with a fire department.
The pay range would be $55,000 to $60,000 a year, she said.
The last full-time chief to head the township department of about 60 firefighters and emergency medical service personnel was Eric Larson, who was being paid $57,824 in 2009 when he left to accept a position with the Wood County Hospital.
Larson was hired in July, 2006, replacing Mike Buzza, who resigned a month earlier.
At the time Larson left, Bowen said the board of trustees would consider options for filling the vacated post, including let it again become a part-time position, which it was before Larson was hired.
They decided to select Todd Walters, who was deputy chief, as part-time chief. Walters was being paid $27.73 an hour when he resigned earlier this year.
Hornyak, then a deputy chief, was given a $2 raise to $18 an hour when he replaced Walters as interim chief.
Bowen said the fire department was in “fairly decent” shape financially, however, one of the department’s trucks will need to be replaced next year.
A grant the township received earlier this year to purchase radios for the fire department allowed the trustees to pay off a loan for a 2007 fire truck early and save about $50,000 in interest payments.
The trustees Tuesday also discussed possibly revising a policy of paying points for members of the fire department while they attend training classes.
The trustees agreed to continue paying points as well as the cost of the training classes for six firefighters – five taking emergency medical technician classes and one taking a volunteer fire class – but said the policy of paying points for department personnel while they’re taking classes needs to be reviewed.
Under the point system, a point represents approximately one hour of service.