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Changes sought for command structure of Weirton Fire Department

WEIRTON — City officials have proposed adjustments to the command structure of the Weirton Fire Department, with a goal of cutting down on overtime costs.

An ordinance, “Implementing new rules and regulations for the Weirton Fire Department personnel,” sponsored by Ward 1 Councilman Tim Connell, passed its first reading during Monday’s regular council meeting.

Connell explained the move was looked at as the next step after council, last year, made changes to the structure of the fire department’s work schedule, which divided it into three companies.

“Two of them had captains, the other did not,” Connell said.

Fire Chief Kevin Himmelrick, who participated in the meeting by phone, explained the proposal would change an existing lieutenant position to captain, and an existing firefighter position to lieutenant. It would not need the hiring of a new firefighter.

“All it’s doing is changing the positions,” Himmelrick said.

Upon questioning from council, Himmelrick explained the department would include himself and nine other officers, plus 16 firefighters.

Some on council, however, didn’t see how the changes would save money.

“If we’re continuing with 26, how are we saving on overtime?” Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel asked.

The ordinance was passed by a 4-2 vote, with Weigel and Ward 6 Councilman Enzo Fracasso voting against.

Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh abstained from the vote, explaining he would like to have more information on the proposal, in particular exact financial figures to show how money would be saved.

Marsh requested Himmelrick submit the financial information to Finance Director Diana Smoljanovich in order for it to be reviewed prior to the May city Finance Committee meeting.

The ordinance must still go through one reading before it could go into effect.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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