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Westmoreland

Hempfield brings on new firefighters, ending fire bureau 'time-out'

Jacob Tierney
| Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, 9:21 p.m.

Hempfield has begun re-establishing the township fire bureau that has been dormant since November.

Township supervisors approved bringing on eight new firefighters Monday night, which ends a moratorium on recruitment.

The fire bureau met with the chiefs of the township's 12 departments last week.

The board oversees the departments. It normally has nine members, though there are now four vacancies.

A consultant with the Allegheny Group is in the midst of evaluating all 12 departments.

“We want to have a comprehensive plan moving forward,” said George Reese, chief of the Carbon fire department and chairman of the township supervisors.

Reese said the “time-out” was put in place as supervisors began work on a plan, and is now being lifted.

The bureau board did not meet in December or January, three members left the board, and departments were told they could not bring on new firefighters or hold training programs.

The decision confused and frustrated several fire chiefs, who criticized supervisors for making major changes to the fire bureau without clearly communicating their intentions.

Supervisor Doug Weimer suggested supervisors hold a meeting to publicize the plan for the bureau to the public.

“I think this bureau, and it's importance, and the structure, the mission, the vision we have for it is a very important topic,” he said.

Adamsburg Fire Chief Don Thoma asked supervisors to hold departments to a high standard.

“I've said time and time again that we need to do the right thing for our residents, not always the easy thing,” he said.

The bureau is working on a new training program for firefighters, Reese said.

Supervisors and the bureau board will meet with fire chiefs to determine what the bureau should look like in the future, and who should fill the four vacancies on the board, Reese said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, jtierney@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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