The Village of Scotia unanimously approved acting Chief Charles Keller as the official chief of the Scotia Fire Department at the Wednesday, Jan. 14, Board of Trustees meeting.
Keller, a captain with the department, has served as acting chief since last spring when former Chief Richard Kasko left to take a job with GE Global Research. Keller can remove the acting from his title now.
The position is contingent on Keller passing the civil service chief's exam, which was administered Saturday, Jan. 10, by the county. Although the results will not be available until possibly March, Mayor Kris Kastberg and the other village board members said they feel it is safe to assume Keller will pass the exam with high scores.
Keller has been with the Scotia department for more than 20 years, and the department has been supportive of his progression to the position of chief.
"I have been lucky enough to have the support of the department, as well as the community, and I am happy that they have entrusted me with this position," said Keller.
During Kasko's time with the village, the fire department was often scrutinized for excessive overtime and sick pay. The merits of a 10-man shift model versus a 12-man shift model were often questioned at village board meetings.
Keller said he supports the 12-man model. He added that the department will begin to look at how it can improve on its ability to protect the community, and he believes a department staffed with full timers and volunteers will make it a valuable asset to the village and the areas it provides services to.
Keller said that the department is currently looking to fill two positions, and canvas letters have been sent out seeking interested applicants. One of the open positions is the result of a firefighter taking a position with the city of Schenectady.
"Once we fill that position it will bring us back to a 12-man model. We are in the process of looking and will soon be interviewing," said Keller.
His first official day as chief was Monday, Jan.19, at a base pay of $75,000. Kastberg said this is the amount that the job was listed at when they first begin looking at candidates.
"It was easy appointing Charlie, he has done an excellent job as an interim," said Kastberg.""