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SCOTIA: Village FD adds position

The hiring of an 11th firefighter was the topic of a Tuesday, Oct. 2, work session called by Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg.

After 40 minutes of closed-door deliberations and further public discussion, the board of trustees agreed to hire another firefighter, bringing the department one person away from the desired staff of 12.

The department will bring Kevin Leonard of Scotia on board as a full-time professional firefighter.

Kevin has been a volunteer for two years, and we are looking forward to his added support, said Fire Chief Richard Kasko.

Kastberg said he hopes to hire another person as early as February, which would bring the number of paid professional firefighters in the village to 12 and allow the department to again implement its three-person staffing rotation, which some say is optimum for public and employee safety.

Trustees Carol Carpenter and Armon Benny voted against hiring Leonard.

According to Kastberg, Carpenter discussed an alternative plan to arrange the shifts during the executive session.

Benny has been an opponent of the 12-person staff, saying it does not alleviate any of the problems the department faces with overtime pay and sufficient coverage.

Benny suggested tabling the motion to hire the firefighter and saving the proposal until the regular board of trustees monthly meeting. He said the next firefighter training academy does not begin until February, and he still believes there is a better alternative.

"We know that this model does not necessarily mean that three people will always be working. Since the implementation of the 12 paid staff model in 2004, 82 percent of the time, only two paid staff was on duty or at least one paid staff was on duty being paid at overtime rates. I don't know if the public really understands the process and the staffing levels we have in Scotia. Most of the board doesn't understand the constraints of the collective bargaining agreement we must try to manage the fire department under," said Benny.

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