Hempfield now has one fire chief who will oversee 12 separate stations — a major step toward making the township’s stations fall under one department.
Township supervisors this week appointed Anthony Kovacic, the current director of emergency services for the township, to the top position.
Kovacic started his career in the fire service as a volunteer firefighter in Lorain, a borough outside Johnstown. He was hired by Johnstown in 1998 as a firefighter and became fire chief for the city in 2005. He held that position until he retired in June 2018 and started working for Hempfield last July.
“We’re going to try and pull some things together and improve what we’ve got going,” Kovacic said. “We’ve got a lot of good resources here; we just need to elevate everybody and keep this thing moving. And there’s a tremendous amount of support. … There’s a pretty good financial commitment by the board to move this thing along.”
An April proposal suggested assigning the 12 stations among three zones, each containing four stations. Those stations would have individual leaders to run day-to-day operations. Above them would be a deputy fire chief to handle administration and training needs. That person would report to the township fire chief, Kovacic.
The proposed zone assignments include:
Zone A — Bovard, Luxor, Hannastown and North Hempfield stations
Zone B — Carbon, Midway-St. Clair, Hempfield No. 2 and West Point
Zone C — Adamsburg, Fort Allen, High Park and Grapeville
Supervisors also voted Monday to advertise for the deputy fire chief position.
Kovacic has been working to improve Hempfield’s fire service ahead of an upcoming review by New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office Inc., or ISO — a review that has a direct correlation with a homeowner’s insurance rates. He presented a plan for Hempfield’s fire service during last week’s workshop meeting focused on a list of issues laid out in a 2018 study, including staffing, training and restructuring of the departments.
“I think, just with the position he was already in, it was an easy transition because he’s still going to serve as director of emergency services,” township Manager Jason Winters said. “So it’s really his job description changes a little bit, but not much, and it really just adds on the term of fire chief to his title.”
Kovacic’s contract for both positions will run through Dec. 31, 2022, with a salary of $72,500, increasing to $77,000 in the second year and $79,000 in the third year, Winters said.