Nearly 50 candidates have applied for a new position as fire chief for Newtown Township.
According to township Board of Supervisors chairman Mike Gallagher, 47 applicants submitted their resumes for consideration. The position, which will be the first of its kind, seeks to create a leader to unite the township’s hybrid system of both paid staff and volunteer firefighters.
Gallagher said the board is in the process of reviewing the applications. He said he hopes to whittle the list down to five applicants that will be invited in for an interview.
Gallagher said he was hoping to move faster on recruiting the new fire chief but the resignation of township manager Joe Czajkowski required the supervisors to focus on filling that role first.
Last week, the supervisors unanimously He will start in early July.
“Now that that’s done, we want to move aggressively (to hire a fire chief),” Gallagher said.
The fire chief would report to the township manager.
The new position is being created as a result of recommendations from an independent study. Last year, the township hired Matrix Consulting Group to review the function of its fire and emergency response services. As a result of the study, Matrix offered a series of recommendations.
One of those recommendations is to create a fire chief position to oversee operations at both the volunteer-based and the paid staff working at the Emergency Services Department.
The study said since the two entities are under the command of separate leadership, a single chief is needed to unify them.
The Emergency Services Department has a fire marshal and eight full-time firefighters, who provide daytime coverage Monday through Friday. Volunteers at the Newtown Fire Association provide evening and weekend coverage. The Newtown Fire Association is under the command of an elected chief.
“The career staff has done and continues to do an excellent job in both regards but the two departments have grown apart in recent years. Unless this gap is narrowed soon and a respectful, strong mutually supportive relationship is developed, there will be significant areas of inefficiency but more importantly possibly severe consequences related to firefighter and public safety,” the Matrix report said.
“Assertive but sensitive leadership in this regard is paramount,” the report said. “We are strongly recommending the creation of one career fire chief to lead and manage this critical transition."