With a 5-2 vote by borough council on Monday, Rick Myers was named chief of the Ellwood City Fire Department. He takes over for the former longstanding fire Chief Connie MacDonald, who retired last month.
Myers, a longtime firefighter with the Ellwood fire department, was up against another candidate who was unnamed but reportedly also a member of the fire department.
Voting ‘no’ were council members Marilyn Mancini and Ralph Chiappetta. Councilman Chiappetta attempted to abstain from voting in that he opposed the procedure used to arrive at the selection.
However, according to Council President Anthony DeCarbo, abstaining from a vote can only be done if personal reasons come into play, which they didn’t in this situation. So, Chiappetta’s vote was considered ‘no.’
Councilman Chiappetta said last week and again on Monday that he was against the procedure in which council was selecting the new chief. He said that with other official positions in the past, council typically did a more comprehensive interview process, specifically using the Ellwood City police chief as an example.
“In the past, we’ve had someone give an outside opinion,” said Chiappetta. “We’re not following the same procedures as we had for other head officials. I’m not against Myers, just against the procedure.”
Last week during the agenda setting meeting, other council members expressed the need for a chief to be named immediately and that extending the interview process any longer would be detrimental.
The fire department was without a chief for approximately three weeks. MacDonald officially retired on June 22.
The Ellwood City Fire Department is made up of a chief and some 40 volunteer fire fighters, and they are involved in weekly training sessions and are active participants in mutual aid systems.