Jeannette mayor to cut on-call, paid firefighting list
In one of his first acts as Jeannette's mayor, Richard Jacobelli said he's looking to save money by slashing nearly half the on-call, paid firefighters from the roster, including the former mayor.
“All of a sudden, I'm on a list to be cut,” said former Mayor Robert Carter. “I'm the most senior man in the department. I answer more calls than any of them. I'm on the list, and I don't know why.”
Carter, 55, a certified firefighter, safety officer and driver, is a 40-year veteran of the fire department.
The proposal to eliminate him from the on-call list is political payback, he said. Carter lost to Jacobelli in the 2013 primary, then mounted an unsuccessful write-in campaign in the fall.
But Jacobelli said the issue with Carter is availability. Carter said his job as a chauffeur requires him to drive to Florida several times a year and stay for extended periods of time.
“That's one of the things we'll take into consideration,” Jacobelli said. “It's not political. I'm trying to be as fair and up-front as I can be. We're simply trying to get down to 15 reliable individuals.”
The city has two dozen on-call firefighters who are paid $7.25 an hour for responding to a call and assisting the three full-time employees in the department, said city clerk Mike Minyon Jr. Those firefighters are covered by city-paid insurance while on duty, he said.
In 2012, the city paid out more than $55,000 to on-call firefighters, he said. The amount paid in 2013 was not yet available.
“Reliable? I'm reliable,” Carter said. “I'm always in the top 10 for responses for the past four years. How do I get on the list when I met every obligation by being in the top 10 over the past four years, even though I wasn't getting paid to respond?”
Carter said he did not accept payment for fire calls while he was mayor.
Carter said he was motivated to become a firefighter in 1972 after his father died in a fire at the former Penn-Albert Hotel in Greensburg where he worked as a maintenance man.
“The fire department is in my blood,” he said.
Before any decision about the on-call list is made, Jacobelli said, the issue of size will be discussed by city council.
City Attorney Scott Avolio said Jacobelli doesn't have the authority to cut the on-call list unilaterally.
Council has discussed abolishing the paid firefighter positions, but voters would decide the issue through a referendum before the department could be dissolved and transferred to an all-volunteer company.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Laurel Ridge rangers on watch for sexual misconduct in park
- Westmoreland County candidate admits to summary offenses
- Ohio woman will be milestone passenger to fly out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Greensburg council expected to approve fire truck purchase
- Democrats go on offense in Westmoreland County commission debate
- Kennametal HQ relocation rankles Westmoreland County business leadership
- Accuser lying, rape defendant testifies in Westmoreland County trial
- Grandparents’ bids for child custody imperiled
- Westmoreland couple charged with having heroin, marijuana
- Former Mich. lawmaker uses D.C. trip to lobby for veterans health care
- 3 charged in Norfolk Southern safety device theft