New chief, fire committee member announced as changes continue
UPPER POTTSGROVE » Changes in the Upper Pottsgrove Fire Company and its relationship with the township just keep coming.
On Sept. 17, George Harmansky, president of the township’s fire services committee, announced that the new fire chief is T.J. Wojton.
Wojton was previously deputy chief, according to Harmansky.
The post was made permanent after a fire committee meeting last week at which former chief Tom Mattingly was unsuccessful in appealing his removal as chief.
Details on that turn of events have not been discussed with Digital First Media on the record.
What was discussed Sept. 17 was replacing the current fire ordinance with one proposed by Commissioner France Krazalkovich, who is also the board of commissioners’ designated member of the fire committee.
The new ordinance would make it easier for fire company activities like participating in parades, to occur without formal permission from the board of commissioners.
It would also revoke workers compensation insurance for firefighters injured during boot drives at intersections.
And while the proposed ordinance names the Upper Pottsgrove Fire Company Number 1 as the primary fire fighting entity in the township, it also would allow the commissioners to name other entities to fight fires in town as well.
The proposed ordinance will go to the fire committee for comment before Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. whips it into legal shape.
The fire committee, which has members of the fire company and the board of commissioners, acts as a communications link between the two groups and is the governing body of the fire company.
The fire committee gained a new member Sept. 17 when Dave Waldt was unanimously
appointed by the commissioners to the seat formerly occupied by commissioner and firefighter Martin Schreiber, who was removed by the commissioners last month in a split vote.
At the time, Commissioners Chairman Trace Slinkerd said because Schreiber is also a member of the fire company, he had a conflict of interest between his duties as a fire company member and as a township commissioner and could not wear both hats.
Schreiber and township Commissioner Elwood Taylor voted against Schreiber’s removal last month.
On Sept. 17, the commissioners also approved changes to the by-laws of the fire committee to put them in alignment with the memorandum of understanding between the township and the fire company.
The changes come in the wake of a dispute regarding an email Mattingly sent to commissioners about what he saw as back-room interference with fire company operations.
Sources have reported that email was reportedly part of the reason Mattingly was removed.
They also come as a consultant for the state begins a study of the fire company itself.
According to the “letter of intent” filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which will oversee the fire study conducted by a consultant, areas examined in the study will include:
• The fire company’s “ability to satisfactorily respond to and extinguish fires as these tasks relate to generally accepted firefighting standards.”
• The scope of the assessment will include, “administrative and operational leadership, personnel management, training, facilities and equipment.”
• It will also review “supporting governance documents and organizational structure as well.”
• The study will also assess “future township fire protection needs.”
Township administrative offices occupy the bottom floor of the Upper Pottsgrove Fire Company No. 1 fire house at 1409 Farmington Ave.