By Amanda Amsel
A laid off comrade will be rejoining his unit after a position opened up with the Franklin Township Fire Department.
At a recent trustees meeting, Franklin Township Fire Chief Richard Howard asked the board to approve rehiring a laid off firefighter.
“We have a firefighter who is leaving for greener pastures, so I am asking the board to bring back one of our laid off firefighters,” Howard said. “If we don’t do this, we won’t be able to run both stations and will have to run either or.”
Late last year, the township laid off four firefighters as a result of the failure of a proposed permanent levy. Due to funding, the fire department was also not able to replace four firefighters who willingly left the department, resulting in the township having eight less firefighters.
Since the layoffs, the department has seen a dramatic cut in resources, including not having enough manpower to operate all their equipment. With five men at each station, Howard said there is not enough firefighters to operate all the equipment at each fire house all day.
“Out of 365 days a year, I have one guy off 360 days and two guys off 315 days,” Howard said. “We have to have three men on a truck and two men on a medic to run the equipment, so without enough staff we simply can’t run all the equipment we have.”
Howard said if the trustees did not approve replacing this firefighter, both stations would not be able to be opened at the same time. Both stations remain open, however not all the equipment at each station can be operated at the same time because of staffing issues.
“I contacted one of the laid off employees and he was not interested in coming back and had gotten a new job and was getting his life back on track,” Howard said. “However, the second guy I contacted was interested in returning and said he could start right away.”
Howard said that by rehiring the laid off firefighter, they would be keeping both stations operational and saving the township money.
“We have all his uniforms and equipment still, we did an exit physical so we don’t need to pay for that again and he is at a lower pay scale than the person he is replacing,” Howard said.
The trustees approved the request.
“The fact that he is making less is a good thing,” said trustee Tim Guyton. “However, carry over for next year continues to be a concern of mine.”