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Long Meadow chief to step down, takes Pa. position

November 18, 1999

Richard RocheBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




PARAMOUNT - After four years as chief of the Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Department, Richard M. Roche will step down on Jan. 1.

Roche, 33, of Hagerstown, began work Nov. 1 in a part-time paid position as chief operating officer with the St. Thomas Township Fire Department in Franklin County, Pa.

He will continue as a full-time paid firefighter and driver at the Mount Aetna Volunteer Fire Department, where he holds the rank of sergeant.

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The new job is a better opportunity for him than Long Meadow because St. Thomas has a greater coverage area, larger staff and pays more, he said.

"It's a good career move and will be challenging," Roche said.

A Washington County native, he got started in the fire service as a student at North Hagerstown High School in 1982. Being active with the company gave him direction when he was undecided about his future, he said.

Roche said he found the fast pace and diversity of the fire service alluring.

"There's always something different going on. You never know what the day has in store for you," he said.

During his 18-year association with Long Meadow, he has held numerous positions and trained as an emergency medical technician.

Roche was elected chief four times, each for a one-year term with a $6,000 annual salary.

The electoral process is one of the main reasons Roche is moving on.

"It's a popularity contest" which he found frustrating, he said.

Roche said he wants the permanence that St. Thomas offers since it doesn't hold elections.

The township supervisors and fire board appoint a chief operating officer, who in turn selects the officers and firefighters who work under him, he said.

"Now I have the power to put the best people in the positions," Roche said.

The Pennsylvania fire company employs 14 paid firefighters and offers ambulance services.

Roche's duties will be primarily administrative - overseeing personnel, scheduling and a payroll of about $100,000. He will be paid around $13,000 annually and work about 20 hours a week at St. Thomas in addition to putting in a 40-hour work week at Mount Aetna.

Although Roche will have his hands full working, he plans to volunteer with Long Meadow about four hours a week, he said.

St. Thomas covers 50 square miles of both residential and agricultural areas, he said.

Roche was selected over three other candidates as fire chief for his combination of years of experience and training, said Dave Brindle, a member of the St. Thomas Township fire board.

Roche has completed fire service courses at Hagerstown Community College, Shepherd College and with the University of Maryland.

Brindle said Roche appeared capable and professional.

"From what we've seen so far, we're very pleased with our choice," Brindle said.

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