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Consultant, former chief to help find new emergency services boss

April 27, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

A consulting firm and a retired fire chief will help the Chambersburg Borough Council in its search for a new emergency services chief, while debate continues on whether the department should have its own advanced life support ambulance service.

The council hired Municipal Resources of Pennsylvania to assist in developing an "ideal candidate profile" and other services for the selection process at a cost of $11,850 and expenses not to exceed $1,800. Steven Darcangelo, the retired fire chief of Mount Lebanon, Pa., was hired to help in the process at a cost not to exceed $2,500.

Earlier this month, the council voted to hire Municipal Resources for a limited study of the police department, but held off on contracting with the firm for the emergency services chief search until it had more information about the process and references from other municipalities.

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The council hired the firm to help fill the vacancy created when Chief John Vanlandingham resigned in November after less than two years on the job.

This is the fourth time the borough has gone through the hiring process for a new chief since the mid-1990s, Council President William McLaughlin said. "We have never achieved the level of leadership and ability we needed," he said.

The deadline to apply is Friday and the borough has received 46 applications, Assistant Borough Manager David Finch said.

Peter S. Marshall of Municipal Resources said the firm will develop questionnaires with the borough council and administration to develop the ideal candidate profile and that five finalists for the position will be asked to fill out questionnaires to determine which best fits that profile.

Whomever leads the Chambersburg Fire Department will have to be able to deal with both paid firefighters and ambulance personnel and volunteers from a number of fire companies within the borough, Councilwoman Elaine Swartz said.

A new chief could also have to deal with another issue - whether the borough should continue using West Shore Advanced Life Support ambulance service. Last year, the borough and surrounding townships approved a three-year contract with West Shore, but Councilwoman Sharon Bigler said a committee examining establishing a borough advanced life support ambulance service will soon make a presentation to the council.

"I think the issue before has always been money and not having to raise taxes," Bigler said. She indicated an advanced life support service could be financially feasible for the borough.

"It will be interesting to see what happens when the final figures are in," Bigler said.

"I'm not enamored of going in and taking over" the service, said Councilman Robert Wareham. He said the majority of the council is still opposed to forming its own advanced life support ambulance service and "West Shore is doing an adequate job."

Swartz and Councilman Allen Coffman said they want to see the financial figures before dismissing the proposal.

McLaughlin, who does not favor starting the service, said a decision ought to be made before a chief is hired, otherwise, "we've subverted the entire process we've gone through."

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