Fire departments news

The lack of available and qualified firefighters to become officers, including fire chief, is forcing the Stanford Hose Co. to consider changing its bylaws.

Andrew Sproveri, first assistant chief for the fire department, discussed the dilemma Monday during a Corry City Council work session.

The problem, Sproveri said, came to a front recently when a firefighter looking to become an assistant fire chief moved just outside city limits.

“We’ve had some very good up-and-coming officers, and all of a sudden their family takes them in a little bit of a different direction and move just outside the city,” Sproveri said. “They are no longer usable.”

The Stanford Hose Co., the volunteer fire department in Corry, currently requires its lieutenants and captains to live in Corry. Those pool of officers typically are the ones eyed for the fire chief positions.

The volunteer department is in the process of amending its bylaws that would allow its company officers, which also include the president and vice president of the company, to live outside the city.

In the meantime, Sproveri told council that finding firefighters who have the necessary training and experience to become an officer has become increasingly difficult. Sproveri said he had “every intention” of stepping down as an assistant fire chief this year, but said the lack of a replacement forced him to stay on.

“The last few years we have been starving for volunteers, as any organization,” Sproveri said. “We have rules and regulations that don’t allow someone to join today and be a chief officer tomorrow.”

Councilman Steve Bresler, director of public safety, said the residency requirements are “restricting” the fire department’s ability to find more officers. He said he supported a change to the bylaws that would ease the requirements.

“It seemed this year we were kind of, ‘OK, the only three people we can appoint (as fire chiefs) because of residency issues are the ones who were there before,’” Bresler said.

An ordinance enacted in 2005 requires the second assistant, assistant and fire chief — whose positions are approved in January by City Council — to live in Corry. Council is now considering an amendment to the ordinance similar to the bylaw changes.

Bresler said he is confident an amendment will be passed. As is the case with career firefighters with the Corry Fire Department, officers could be allowed to live within 11 air miles of the city.

“We need to do something to broaden our labor pool and recruit more guys to be volunteers,” Bresler said. “I see us doing a couple of things, one of them being opening the area for the city officers, who are the fire chiefs.”

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