Fire department remains strong after chief’s removalFollowing a Solon Springs Fire Commission meeting Tuesday, acting Fire Chief John Walt made one thing clear. “Our department is as solid as can be,” he said. “We’re still strong.” Walt said the Solon Springs Volunteer Fire Department has about 20 active members.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Following a Solon Springs Fire Commission meeting Tuesday, acting Fire Chief John Walt made one thing clear.
“Our department is as solid as can be,” he said. “We’re still strong.” Walt said the Solon Springs Volunteer Fire Department has about 20 active members.
Former Fire Chief Mike Brostowitz has resigned his post, according to members of the Fire Commission, but he remains a firefighter with the department. The commission is in the process of putting together a budget, sorting out finances and making sure invoices and bills contain enough information.
It’s important, said commission president Jim Heim, that maintenance invoices note which unit was worked on.
“If the vehicle is being maintenanced to death we need to know,” said Commission Secretary Gene Risler, so they can consider replacing it.
The commission approved purchase of accounting software to track department finances, which were haphazard in the past.
“It was the craziest system,” Heim said. “I can’t believe how anybody really knew what was going down and it’s quite clear I don’t think anybody did.”
After factoring in bills from 2007 and an overpayment for vehicle maintenance, which was returned, the department just about broke even financially in 2008, he said.
A possible ordinance to allow the department to continue to have a separate account was discussed.
Walt said much of the money in that account goes back to the community – buying a new Automated External Defibrillator for the Solon Springs Community Center or purchasing a new jacket for each firefighter who completes entry level training.
Assistant Fire Chief Jay Thomas noted that sometimes the department needs items that are not in the budget, such as a ladder or hose. Having their own pot of money allows them to fill those needs.
“We ended up paying for things to save the taxpayers money,” Walt said.
Fellow firefighter Chuck Walt added that those reserve funds could be used to match grants, as well.
The commission currently has no position on whether the department should continue to have a separate account, Heim said. But, he said, Solon Springs residents have questioned him about why there are reserve funds available in both the commission and department accounts.
A decision on who will be the new fire chief was put on hold, with John Walt remaining as interim chief. In the past, said firefighter Dave Krenz, anyone interested in the position wrote a letter to the commission. Commission members then choose a chief.
Heim also discussed evaluations for firefighters, from the chief down. He noted that a change in the village and town ordinances will decrease the number of fire inspections done each year.
Approximately 40 businesses in Solon Springs require inspections each year. State statute requires two inspections at each site a year unless a local ordinance is in place that requires only one inspection a year, Heim said.
According to past fire commission minutes, no fire inspections were completed in 2008, although they were done in 2007 and some have been completed for 2009.