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June 4, 2014

Top pick for paid fire chief bails out

LEWISBURG — A five-month national search for the William Cameron Engine Company’s first fully paid chief has fizzled, as the leading candidate has withdrawn his name from consideration.

The candidate, from the York area, cited personal and professional reasons for pulling his application, said Thomas Zorn, East Buffalo Township’s supervisors chairman who also sits on William Cameron’s municipal members committee.

Discussions at the committee’s meeting Wednesday night were to likely address the next steps in pursuing a full-time professional chief, Zorn said.

“It’s a tough position to fill, and we’ll see (Wednesday) where we go next,” Zorn said. “We’re all very disappointed. We think he could have done a good job.”

Committee members and William Cameron officials were impressed with the candidate’s credentials and excited to offer him the position, Zorn said.

“It’s disappointing to come this far,” Zorn said, “and wind up with no one.”

Fire board chairman Vaughn Murray echoed Zorn’s sentiments.

“Everyone thought, ‘Yeah, this is the guy,’” he said.

The candidate “seemed like an all-around good leader and manager, had the right experience and the right philosophies,” said Murray, who declined to disclose the candidate’s name for privacy concerns.

The salary for the successful candidate would be commensurate with experience, Murray said. The person would oversee operations as well as administration for the fire house.

About 20 applicants submitted resumes, Murray said. Eventually, the search committee whittled that number to five and then to a final two, but one candidate took a permanent job elsewhere.

William Cameron has operated without a full-time chief since Rick Sheesley resigned in February. Steve Bolinsky is William Cameron’s volunteer fire chief and is overseeing operations for now, and four platoon sergeants also are heading their own crews.

While William Cameron prepares for another chief search, Zorn is concerned about the fire house going too long without permanent leadership in place.

“This void needs to be addressed,” he said.

In a study it conducted for William Cameron in 2012, consulting group Emergency Services Alliance Group, based at Harrisburg Area Community College, recommended the Lewisburg fire company hire a full-time executive chief.

The study advised William Cameron what it needed to do to prepare for the future in terms of being a hybrid fire department. William Cameron has paid and volunteer firefighters; the paid volunteers formed a union in 2012.

 

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