Former Halfway fire chief named first paid administrator

January 09, 1997


Staff Writer

Longtime Fire Chief Jeff Ringer has stepped down as head of the Halfway Volunteer Fire Co. to take a paid administrative position with the department.

The post is the first such position at a volunteer fire department in Washington County, said Emergency Services Coordinator Roger "Jerry" Reed.

Neither Ringer nor other department officials would say what Ringer's salary is in the new post. But Chief Joe Kroboth III said the salary range for the position is $34,000 to $42,000.


Reed said the ambulance service in Williamsport, the Community Rescue Squad and the part-paid, part-volunteer Hagerstown Fire Department have paid administrators.

Ringer's colleagues at Halfway credited him with transforming the department from a small volunteer company into a nationally recognized firefighting operation.

Kroboth, who took over as chief at Halfway, said the department is recognized at conferences by officials from some of the nation's largest fire companies.

"He's brought us from a basic little department to a leading department - not just in this area - but statewide," said Doug DeHaven, who took Kroboth's old job as deputy chief.

In his new job, Ringer is responsible for day-to-day operations. He manages the paperwork and other duties the part-time officials do not have time to handle. He is remaining an active-duty firefighter as assistant chief, and as such will train new volunteers.

In addition, the new job enabled Ringer to leave his full-time job as a salesman for Allsafe Fire Equipment Inc.

Ringer said the department made 1,800 calls in 1996 for ambulance and fire service, making it the busiest volunteer fire company in Washington County. He said the time had come to decide whether to hire a full-time chief or to add a paid administrator.

It's a decision other fire units might face in the near future, Reed said.

Reed said the administration of fire companies is much like that of a business, and will require full-time staff.

"There are changes that are going to have to be made, and they're going to have to be made on a 24-hour basis," he said.

Kroboth said he hopes to continue upgrading the department's equipment and training. He pointed to an expansion project, which will provide more space for ambulance cars, training classrooms, bunks and office space. He said the work should be completed in March with a grand opening on May 30 and 31.

DeHaven said Ringer, more than anyone, improved training methods and upgraded equipment. He said he has brought new ideas from fire departments across the country.

Kroboth said one of Ringer's greatest accomplishments was starting Halfway's ambulance service, which went into service in September 1995. He said critics claimed that ambulance service was unnecessary, but he said the company made 1,000 calls last year.

Ringer became chief in 1982.

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