Borough's emergency services chief resigns

November 24, 2005|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Chambersburg Emergency Services Chief John A. Vanlandingham, hired in 2004 to run the borough's fire department and ambulance service, resigned Tuesday citing personal reasons.

Assistant Chief William Dubbs will be acting chief until Vandlandingham's replacement is named, said Borough Manager Eric Oyer.

Vanlandingham, 35, was hired in February 2004 to replace Dubbs, who asked to step down from the position.

"This has been going on for about six months," Vanlandingham said Wednesday of his decision to leave the position. "We just decided it would be best to part our ways."

Vanlandingham, who had been the fire chief in Bridgeport, W.Va., before coming to Chambersburg, did not cite specific reasons for resigning, but said there had been disagreements with some members of the borough council over the administration of the department.


"We'd like to remain in the area," said Vanlandingham, who is working toward a master's degree in public administration at Shippensburg (Pa.) University.

"I'm disappointed things didn't work out. I think he had a lot he could bring to the table," said Council President William McLaughlin. "I guess he felt there were policy issues with some members of council and his best interests might be served by looking elsewhere."

"This is my 14th year on council and we're looking for our fifth fire chief," McLaughlin said.

During those years, Oyer said former chief William Sheppard retired and successors Allen Baldwin, Dubbs and now Vanlandingham have resigned.

"It's a combination department, and combination departments are difficult to administer," Oyer said, referring to the fact that the department has both paid and volunteer members. "It's one of the most difficult departments to manage in the borough ... because of the various parties and their interests."

Vanlandingham was being paid $62,982 a year, according to Oyer. Vanlandingham said he would continue to do some consulting work for the borough over the next few months, or until he finds new employment, he said.

In recent weeks, Vanlandingham presented a strategic plan for the department that included the addition of three more paid firefighters to the staff of 18 in 2006. The preliminary budget for the fire and ambulance services next year is more than $2.5 million.

Vanlandingham had been at odds with some members of the council earlier this year over his recommendation to renew an agreement with West Shore Emergency Medical Services to provide advanced life support ambulance service to the borough, which was eventually approved. Councilwoman Sharon Bigler said at the time she wanted the borough to establish its own advanced life support service.

McLaughlin said the council will likely go in to executive session at Monday night's meeting to discuss the search for another chief.

The Herald-Mail Articles