By ERIC SLAGLE Daily News Staff Writer
Forward Township is looking to
consolidate leadership of its three volunteer fire departments.
The plan, which would create a single, township-wide
fire chief and two deputy chiefs, was discussed at a meeting of
township supervisors Thursday.
The objective of the initiative is to end jurisdictional problems and
disputes that have occurred among the three departments.
Supervisor Dave Magiske said Chief Steve Pierce of
Forward Township VFD, Chief John Hess of Gallatin
Sunnyside VFD and Chief Walter Albright of Bunola VFD all were sent
e-mails Wednesday from board of supervisors chair Tom DeRosa advising
them about the new organizational plan.
“After countless attempts to coordinate a cohesive atmosphere through
which the three fire companies can function, it is obvious that our
efforts are failing,” the e-mail stated. It went on to say that under
the new plan, the chief will be in charge at all fire scenes. If the
chief is unavailable, one of the two deputy chiefs will be in charge.
“We’re hoping to solve a problem
that’s been around for quite a while,” said Magiske, explaining that
disputes over which department should be in charge of a given fire scene
have been occurring in the township for
the past 25 to 30 years. He said the disputes reached a point recently
where supervisors decided that something needed to be done.
The chiefs have been asked to send information to the
township by Feb. 23 regarding the qualifications of
members from all three departments who’ve responded to calls in the past
Supervisors plan to review the information then call a meeting with the
departments at an unspecified date.
Magiske said there is not a timetable set for accomplishing the plan.
It’s unclear if supervisors will appoint a member from each of the three
departments to the leadership roles in the new department alignment.
“I think they’ve each got people who are certified” to be a chief or
deputy chief, Magiske said.
Pierce, who was at the meeting, said the initiative is still a work in
“Hopefully we can resolve our issues. We’re here for the same reasons;
to serve the community’s interests,” Pierce said. Looking ahead, Pierce
added, “There are a lot of questions to be asked and a lot of questions
to be answered.” Magiske noted that the township’s
three fire departments have made
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