New chief, fire com­mit­tee mem­ber an­nounced as changes con­tinue

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

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.”

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices oc­cupy the bot­tom floor of the Up­per Pottsgrove Fire Com­pany No. 1 fire house at 1409 Farm­ing­ton Ave.

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