5 members appointed to Hempfield’s Public Safety Citizens force
Five Hempfield Township residents were appointed to the newly formed Public Safety Citizens Task Force as supervisors work to make changes to public safety.
Greg Saunders, Bovard fire chief; Bill Bretz, a Hempfield Planning Commission member; Linda Ralph, who has experience with municipal contracts; Daniel Mertz, a paramedic; and Roger Bailey, Somerset Borough assistant manager, were appointed during last week’s public meeting.
The goal of the commission, originally discussed as a Citizens Task Force, is to have community members help study policy, discuss funding, examine fire department coverage areas and review the number of volunteer firefighters at each station.
The force originally was to review public safety as a whole, but an upcoming Insurance Services Office Inc., or ISO, has pushed fire services to the forefront, with township officials working to make improvements before the review takes place. ISO ratings have a direct correlation with homeowners’ insurance rates.
“We have a bigger picture here in the fire service to talk about in the next year and a half,” Supervisor Tom Logan said last month when the task force was formed. “So I expect (the task force) to be involved in making those decisions or giving some input in those decisions.”
Saunders, Bovard fire chief and member of the Hempfield Township Bureau of Fire, was appointed by Supervisor George Reese, who is chief of the Carbon fire department. Saunders has an understanding of the fire structure in the township and years of experience as a firefighter, Reese said.
Supervisor John Silvis, who appointed Bretz, said his background in municipal government made Bretz a strong candidate for the committee.
“He’s very aware of the fire situation,” Silvis said. “He’s a very concerned citizen, he comes to the meetings.”
Linda Ralph has experience working with municipal contracts for diesel fuel as a bid administrator, said Logan, who appointed her. She now works for ExOne Company in North Huntingdon Township, a manufacturing technology company that provides 3D printing machines and products.
Daniel Mertz, appointed by Supervisor Rob Ritson, reached out as a volunteer to the committee.
“I have had conversations with him over the last year about public safety,” Ritson said in an email to the Tribune-Review. “I felt his experience and strong desire to be a part of this project would be an asset to the township as a whole.”
Supervisor Doug Weimer appointed Roger Bailey, a former firefighter and inactive member of the Somerset Fire Department. Bailey does not have any affiliations with Hempfield fire stations, Weimer said.
“I felt he had a background that would be a good fit,” Weimer said. “It was impressive to me that he had background in firefighting.”
Township Manager Jason Winters and Anthony Kovacic, director of fire and EMS for the township, also will sit on the board, but will not vote on decisions.
Terms for the five members will run through Dec. 31, 2020.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .