Two Hobart firefighters promoted even as limits are imposed
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent February 6, 2013 9:22PM
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:37AM
HOBART — The Board of Works and Public Safety on Wednesday approved the promotion of two firefighters to the rank of captain, one of whom Fire Chief Brian Taylor recently sought to demote.
However, no firefighters will move up into the two firefighters’ previous rank of lieutenant as a result of a new ordinance passed by the City Council later Wednesday night. The ordinance calls for limits in the department that the council believes has too many ranking firefighters.
The board approved the promotions of Mark Slonaker and Robert Lamprecht, who Taylor said stood highest on the eligibility list and were entitled to the promotion.
Slonaker had recently served a five-day suspension imposed by the fire commission after being found guilty on three of five charges leveled by Taylor. Taylor had accused Slonaker of making disparaging remarks about the fire department and some firefighters at a local barber shop.
The commission had also put Slonaker on probationary status, but City Attorney Anthony DeBonis later informed the board that the commission had no authority to put Slonaker on probation or make him ineligible for promotion during that probation.
Board of Works member Tom Ehrhardt asked why there were two captain vacancies at one time. Taylor said one was due in the summer, but postponed pending the disciplinary action, while the other resulted from a retirement.
The City Council later approved an ordinance on second reading that would limit the number of battalion chiefs, captains and lieutenants to three each. Taylor said there were 10 lieutenants, now eight after the two promotions were approved.
“I overspent my rank line item in the budget over the last several years by a lot,” Taylor said.
“What has happened is we have too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” DeBonis said.
Taylor said the problem occurred as a result of people being promoted, and another person promoted to fill their former rank.
Councilman Lino Maggio, D-3rd, pointed out that the council’s action won’t solve the department’s budget problems, but Taylor said it is a start with two fewer lieutenants in the department.
Ranked firefighters make more money than other firefighters. The new ordinance does not result in fewer firefighters, just fewer with a rank.