Hobart Fire Commission seeks legal opinion on prevention director position
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent December 15, 2012 6:36PM
Updated: December 16, 2012 2:44AM
HOBART — The Fire Commission is seeking a legal opinion as to whether former Assistant Fire Chief James Jaracz could return to his former longtime position of fire prevention director.
Commission chairman Mike Pouch, a member of the fire department, said Jaracz had approached the commission to see if he could return to the position he held for more than 17 years after he was removed from the assistant chief position and placed back on shift rotation by Fire Chief Brian Taylor.
“We could find no definitive answer,” Pouch said at the commission meeting on Tuesday.
Pouch said he hopes to have an answer at the next commission meeting, in January.
Jaracz said he’s satisfied with the commission’s approach.
“I spent more than 17 years in that position. I think I’m well-qualified to do that job,” Jaracz said.
He said he believes fire prevention is an essential function of the department.
Jaracz, who has been a member of the fire department for 19 years, has been on leave since July, recovering from an injury suffered when falling through the floor of a burning building while on duty.
Taylor could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. However, he earlier said Jaracz was neither demoted nor was his change in assignment a disciplinary action. He said it was an administrative decision and he was going in a different direction.
Jaracz held the No. 2 post in the department for just a little more than 11/2 years. He was promoted in April 2011, replacing Assistant Chief Fabian Martinez, who returned to his duty rank of captain on a 24-hour shift for personal reasons.
Prior to his promotion, Jaracz was in the Fire Prevention Bureau performing duties as inspector, plan review, public education, hazardous materials compliance, in addition to fire investigator. He also was in charge of firefighter training.
Jaracz joined the department in 1993 as a probationary firefighter.