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Posted: 11/28/07

OFFICIAL WELCOME. Above, Fire Chief David Poterek, left, welcomes four full-time and two paid on-call fire fighters to the Washington Township Fire Department. They are, from left, Eric Kozlowski, Jared Mento, Brian Johnson, Rob Colby, Alex Kleist and Nick Roberts. Below, Brian Tyrell, Washington Township's first fire marshal, receives his badge from father, Bob Tyrell, retired assistant fire chief with the city of Rochester.

(Observer photos by Cheryl Ciske)

Washington Twp. adds
firefighters, fire marshal

Observer Special Writer
      The Washington Township Fire Department has bolstered its roster by adding six new firefighters and one fire marshal.
       Earlier this month, before a packed audience, with cameras flashing, four full-time as well as two paid on-call firefighters were sworn in as members of the Washington Township Fire Department and received their badges, pinned on by their mothers and spouses.
       "Adding these firefighters to our department has made Washington Township a safer more effective township," said Fire Chief David Poterek. "They have already contributed to our unique brotherhood where they've taken on the responsibility of risking their lives to save yours."
       Full-time firefighters include Eric Kozlowski, Robert Colby, Brian Johnson and Jared Mento. Paid on-call firefighters include former Ray Township firefighter Alexander Kleist of Washington Township and Nicholas Roberts, also of Washington Township.
       The six candidates were whittled from an initial field of 40 applicants. Fire candidates successfully completed a written test, oral interview, physical agility test, background check, psychological interview and pre-hire medical examination.
       "As firefighters, you are being held to a higher standard," said Poterek. "You have one year to prove yourselves; you are challenged to leave your legacy."
       In addition, Washington officials welcomed its first ever fire marshal. Brian Tyrell was sworn in and received his fire marshal badge from his father, Bob Tyrell, a retired assistant fire chief for the city of Rochester.
       "This is a multi-faceted position," said Washington Supervisor Gary Kirsh. "The shoes and legacy are yours to fill."
       Tyrell will be responsible for inspecting new buildings and re-inspecting existing buildings, serving as a member of the township's pre-planning committee for new building projects, observing the testing and maintenance of fire protection systems, enforcing and updating the township's fire code, investigating fires, providing fire prevention public education, establishing a new resident assistant program, maintaining a Knox Box system for rapid entry into businesses, updating township maps, assisting with incident command system at fires and large incidents and addressing burn permits and fireworks issues.
       Tyrell has served as a paid on-call firefighter for 10 years for various fire departments including Washington Township. In addition, Tyrell has spent 13 years as a full-time firefighter and paramedic and six years as a part-time inspector for Washington Township.
       At the township's Nov. 21 meeting, officials authorized Poterek to solicit qualified applicants to fill the remaining eight paid on-call firefighter slots okayed by the township's ad-hoc Fire Committee.
       "Normally, we try to keep a roster of 25 firefighters," said Poterek. "I'm not sure if that's attainable. We're definitely below where we'd like to be."
       Qualified candidates must possess Firefighter I and II and emergency medical technician certification. In addition, applicants must reside within the boundaries of Washington Township. Poterek said, however, the township may be changing its residency requirement for its firefighters.
       "It used to be that anyone who wanted to be a firefighter could come on board and we would train them; it's very costly and we're being used as a training ground," said Clerk RJ Brainard. "I don't think with the qualifications we're asking for that they're looking for part-time; they want full-time."
       Poterek said he is aware that most firefighters who join the department are seeking full-time firefighter status.
       "They're using us; but, we're using them," said Poterek. "Make no mistake; they're trying to get on a department full-time. They may be here six months or six years. But, in the mean time, we have use of their experience."
       Poterek would like to have additional paid on-call firefighters added to the department's roster by next spring.
       In other business, Washington officials approved:
       * Issued blanket purchase orders not to exceed $5,000 to Bound Tree Medical, $1,000 to Radio Shack and $4,000 to Quill for supplies for the township's fire department
       * The purchase of uniforms for the fire department's six new firefighters in the amount of $1,508.94 and turnout gear in the amount of $7,827. Budgeted monies will be taken from the township's fire fund
       * Poterek to solicit bids to replace the floor covering in Station 2.

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