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William Wright Jr. to become fire chief in Southwest Greensburg

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

In a few days, Shaun Teacher will be turning in another of the many hats he has worn in service to Southwest Greensburg.

On Monday, Teacher, formerly borough mayor, will be replaced as borough fire chief by a friend, Bill Wright Jr.

“I was nominated for (chief), and I declined it,” Teacher said. “There are other candidates in the fire service that I think … are ready to take over. I think it's their time.”

Teacher, 33, served three years as chief and nine as deputy chief.

“I'm humbled and proud to be elected by the guys as the new chief,” said Wright, 34, who has served as deputy chief.

Wright said he was surprised during the Dec. 3 fire company meeting when Teacher said he was not seeking re-election.

“It was a surprise to all of us,” Wright said. “He worked hard and did a good job for us. I have big shoes to fill. Hopefully I can continue to keep us on the same path.”

Wright's father had served as company president.

Teacher also served two terms as borough mayor, waging a write-in campaign and taking office when he was only 22.

“I didn't like ... what (the other candidates) were for, so I ran against them,” he said.

He learned, both as mayor and fire chief, two important skills to have are the ability to listen and to deal with others, Teacher said.

A few people questioned him because of his age, he said.

“You have to convince people you're serious and there for the right reason,” Teacher added.

The Southwest Greensburg mayor's primary duty is overseeing the borough police department. The mayor breaks ties if a council vote ends with a deadlock.

Shortly after his election, Teacher learned another lesson that applied to his role as fire chief.

“Everything revolves around the budget, funding,” he said. “Everything revolves around the budget and trying to raise the funds to get equipment.”

During Teacher's tenure as fire chief, the department got its first aerial truck with the help of a $585,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The local department raised 10 percent of the needed money to purchase the truck in 2010.

Also during his tenure, drivers of fire department vehicles underwent more training.

“This required all the drivers to put in over 80 hours of training and testing,” Teacher said. “Now they're all required to be certified (under federal guidelines) to drive, which is a big step.”

The commitment of others made his duties easier, Teacher said.

“I've had very supportive members of the fire department and police department,” he said.

Wright said he plans no major changes, initially.

Teacher, a married father of three children, will remain active in the 50-member fire department, serving as president.

He didn't rule out a return to government or as fire chief in the future.

“If I see a need for the seat to be filled, I'll take it up,” Teacher said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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