New Albany News

Plain Township's 2013 plans include hiring battalion chiefs


One of the most significant developments on the horizon for Plain Township in 2013 is the imminent addition of three key emergency-management positions.

The Plain Township Fire Department is expected this year to promote three captains to battalion chief.

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.

"This is probably the most significant thing we've done in a long time here," Hoovler said. "It will provide better safety at (an emergency) scene and complete the command structure for the fire department."

The three candidates studying to take the test for battalion chief currently are captains with the department: Joe Brown, Greg Ecleberry and Kevin Sponaugle.

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

If the department's three captains are promoted, Hoovler said, he will then promote the department's three lieutenants to captain and promote three firefighters to lieutenant.

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

Ten firefighters are qualified to serve as lieutenants, said Assistant Chief Jack Rupp.

All promotions will be done at the same time.

Hoovler said the department does not plan to add any full-time firefighters, even if all three captains and the others are promoted.

He said he does not have any money budgeted for new hires, unless a few part-time positions are added.

Also, the fire department will continue to have the same number of personnel responding to emergencies, even if the current battalion chief candidates are promoted.

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.

The promotions would cost the department $92,031.94 in 2013, $131,929.54 in 2014 and $177,493.70 in 2014.