The Plain Township Fire Department plans to hire three battalion chiefs in 2013.

The Plain Township Fire Department plans to hire three battalion chiefs in 2013.

Battalion chiefs supervise emergency-response sites as the officers in charge and help ensure firefighters' safety, said Fire Chief John Hoovler. The township trustees authorized the new positions in April.

Hoovler and Assistant Chief Jack Rupp currently are in charge at emergency scenes. Once they are off duty, Hoovler said, a battalion chief from a neighboring department is called in to supervise at the scene of an emergency.

"When we (Rupp and I) go home, we have the (department) captains in charge," Hoovler said. "We get a battalion chief from Mifflin Township or Columbus and our guys are in charge (on the scene) until the battalion chief gets there."

Three candidates are eligible to take the test for battalion chief: Kevin Sponaugle, Joe Brown and Greg Ecleberry. All are captains with the Plain Township Fire Department.

Hoovler said the department advertised the position externally but the three people who applied did not meet the qualifications, one of which was experience as a fire captain.

He said once the test date is announced, the three candidates will be given 90 days to study material. They must pass the test to be promoted.

If the three Plain Township candidates are promoted, Hoovler said, the department would promote its three lieutenants to captain and promote three firefighters to lieutenant.

The current lieutenants are Travis Dudley, Jim Carney and Greg Myers. They are the only three qualified for promotions to captain, Hoovler said.

Eight firefighters are qualified for promotions to lieutenant, he said.

All promotions would be done at the same time.

Hoovler said the fire department does not plan to add any full-time firefighters, even if the battalion chiefs are promoted from within.

He said he has no money budgeted for new hires, unless a few part-time positions were added. The department will continue to have the same number of personnel responding to emergencies even if the captains are promoted to battalion chiefs.

Battalion chiefs earn 13 percent more in pay but, Hoovler said, the pay increases would be phased in over three years, with the battalion chiefs earning 5 percent more the first year and 4 percent more the second and third years. Those percentages do not include cost-of-living increases, which the department has estimated at 2.5 percent annually for the next five years, Hoovler said.