Janesville39.8°

Brodhead sits on fire chief decision

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Holly Ann Garey
August 17, 2011
— After getting public input on the matter Tuesday, the Brodhead City Council delayed action on whether to keep the position of full-time fire chief.

The deliberation came after officials last month agreed to not renew the contract of its first full-time chief, Jay Bohan.


Wayne Gibson, who previously served as the department's assistant chief, was asked to serve as interim fire chief Aug 3.


Gibson said in a previous interview that he has no intention of becoming the city's permanent fire chief.


"I stressed to them this is part-time," Gibson said.


Council members are hoping to make a decision by the end of the year, when Gibson is set to vacate the position, Pinnow said.


After laying ground rules for a public hearing, the council heard from several groups, including the Brodhead Rural Fire Association, the fire department's oversight committee and volunteer firefighters.


"We are here to hear your opinion if we need a full-time chief," Mayor Doug Pinnow said.


Those at the meeting seemed divided over the need for a full-time chief.


Bill Ruchti, a volunteer firefighter for 30 years, said he helped push for a full-time fire chief three years ago when he was the part-time fire chief. Now, with issues that have arisen within the department in recent years, he said he isn't so sure.


"It's probably not a good thing at the moment for the department," Ruchti said, adding that he would like to see the full-time position have defined duties.


Others said there's plenty of work to keep a full-time chief busy.


"Somebody has to be in charge," said Doug Zettle, a fire department oversight committee member.


Still others said the department might face continued problems under another full-time chief.


"It's going to turn into a dictatorship (again)," fire Lt. Rick Bedward said.


The council agreed Tuesday to pay Gibson $2,000 a month to serve as interim chief.


Council members said the final decision won't be an easy one to make.


"We did not get what we wanted from this meeting," Pinnow said. "I expected to have a strong decision one way or the other."



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