Liberty Township trustees appointed William A. Fields Jr. as the interim administrative fire chief Monday night during a regularly scheduled board session.
“I’ve been a veteran for 34-years of the fire service with the City of Worthington,” said Fields. “I joined the force in 1978 and went through the ranks as a firefighter, captain and then the battalion chief.”
Fields said he grew up in Worthington, but is a resident of Westerville in Genoa Township.
Fields’ compensation will be at an hourly rate of $45 per hour and is not eligible for health benefits or paid leave time. His employment with the township will “continue until determined by the board to be no longer needed,” according to the resolution approved by trustees Monday night.
Township officials said they had enlisted the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association to help recruit, assess and hire a permanent chief. Officials expect the process to take several months before someone is hired to the position.
Fields says the fire departments at Worthington and at Liberty Township are similar in how they function.
“I’m very comfortable with the organization; very comfortable with the area,” Fields said. “There’s a very good group of individuals up here and I thought I could lend a hand for a few months to help out.”
Fields said he also knew many of the firefighters in the township department from working with them in other organizations. “I was the hazardous materials coordinator for the Northwest Area Strike Team, which consists of about seven fire departments, Liberty Township was one of them,” he said.
“I’ve worked very closely with the people here. In fact back when I left the association Battalion Chief (Bill) Piwtorak took my place there.”
Fields said he understands that a lot of things for the department have been on hold with recent events.
“When the chief left, it put things on hold around here. The big-ticket items just didn’t get taken care of,” he said. “The trustees and I had a good talk on what they wanted in the next four months. My job is to come in here and take these guys to the next level.”
In the absence of a chief, Fields credited others with doing a commendable job.
“Our three battalion chiefs really did a great job with keeping it together,” Fields said. “Maybe one of those guys will become the next chief.”
Fields most immediate concern is replacing a fire engine because the main engine and the back up both were out of service for repairs as of Monday.
“The two trucks we have are very old.” Fields said. “They (the department) were planning to have them replaced long, long ago. It just didn’t get done.”
Fields asked asked for and received an emergency resolution for $5,000 to pay for repairs of a fire engine. He said the department is in the process of moving forward with the purchase of a new truck.
• In other business, trustees:
• Approved blanket certificates and purchase orders totaling $68,341.
• Approved bills, warrants and charges for totaling $176,166, and tabled a bill from Duckett Law Firm LLC for $4601 because trustee Tom Mitchell had a question about the bill.
• Approved a separate payment listing under bill, warrants and charges for $167,488.
• Trustees authorized the installation of of school safety speed zone signs for Wyandot Run Elementary, Liberty Middle and High schools. Mitchell said that trustee Shyra Eichhorn had been a major component of the project.
• Trustees approved the a contract with MasterMind LLC to perform a federally mandated study of all township roads with a speed limit more than 25 miles per hour for an amount not to exceed $2,160.
• Approved the hire of Zachary Roush and Anthony Arata for full-time employment with Parks and Road Services.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.