FT votes 'no' on assistant fire chief
The Franklin Township Board of Trustees voted 2-1 not to move forward with creating the position of assistant fire chief.
Fire Chief Richard Howard had lobbied for this new position for months. The payroll and pension of $20,156 was appropriated into the fire department’s 2011 budget with this position in mind. If it were approved, the position could be dissolved at any point by the township if it became unnecessary or ineffective.
Additionally, Howard said it would be an opportunity to groom a future replacement.
According to Howard, the prospective boom of commercial redevelopment on the Westside and new state mandates has overburdened the fire department. Howard feels this position is essential to the future proficiency of the township.
“The township’s not getting any bigger, but our responsibilities are,” Howard said at the April 28 trustees meeting. “We’re looking at major redevelopment here.”
Howard added that, due to his workload he continually risks missing events such as community outreach, chief meetings, and grant opportunities – and he cannot send other company officers on his behalf, because they are designed for fire chiefs and concern the functionality of departments.
However, Chairman Timothy Guyton argued other officers within the company should be able to attend such meetings and take notes, and Howard should be informed about discussions ahead of time via pre-released agendas.
“Even if he has it in his budget, ask the public, do they have to do more with less?” Guyton said.
Guyton believes the chief’s problems can be solved through more delegation. Additionally, Guyton commented that years ago the board removed the positions of battalion chief from the township because the department had too many administrative positions and not enough non-officers – and that reasoning stands today.
Trustee Paul Johnson was the lone vote in favor of adding the position, believing that the township must look towards future needs of the township.
“I think we’ve come to the point where we really need one, because of what it looks like is going to happen here on the Westside,” Johnson said.
Howard agreed that, in the days of multiple battalion chiefs, the administrative duties could be performed by one individual – but in the modern landscape of responsibility – assistance is required.
“If that doesn’t seem like a worthy amount to make things better for Franklin Township, then I don’t know what is,” Howard said.