Commissioners of the DeWitt Fire Department unanimously voted to keep the position of a paid fire chief during a meeting in late March. The decision was made after weeks of consideration that included forming a six-person committee to review the current chief's duties. The fire commission disclosed plans in December to eliminate the position for a volunteer, due to issues such as budget. The change would have taken place after seven-year incumbent Gary MacLachlan retires in September.
"I was pleased that, after considering all the facts and the job description, and after several meetings with me concerning all the various and numerous daily, weekly, monthly specific tasks that a career chief can and does accomplish, that they reconsidered their December action," MacLachlan said. "I'm not sure they initially considered all the ramifications, fallout and loss that retreating back a decade would mean."
Commissioner Brian Schultz never wavered in his support for the paid position, and said he feels great about the decision.
"The department can continue to be progressive, rather than regressive," he said. "We're looking out for the best interest of the district residents and our firefighters."
Commissioner Jim Conlon will soon begin the search for MacLachlan's replacement.
The DeWitt Fire Department is the third busiest department in Onondaga County with the largest number of paid staff. It's also the only one with a paid career chief.