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Chambersburg's new emergency services chief officially on the job

April 30, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- More than two years since the position became vacant, Chambersburg once again has an emergency services chief, a veteran Scranton, Pa., firefighter with a quarter-century of experience.

Terry Osborne, 48, who was hired by the Borough Council in February and began work on April 7, was selected from more than 100 applicants for the job of running the Chambersburg Fire Department and Ambulance Service. The position had been vacant since previous chief John Vanlandingham resigned in November 2005.

In the absence of a chief, Deputy Chief William Dubbs was in charge.

"Bill has just done a tremendous job ... Chambersburg should be really grateful for the many hats he wore" during that time, Osborne said.

Osborne credited Dubbs and Borough Manager Eric Oyer with getting a fire inspection program under way, establishing higher minimum standards for volunteers and setting standards for paid personnel to achieve to earn promotions.

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The department he has taken over is up to full strength at 21 paid personnel, three having just graduated from training at Harrisburg Area Community College, he said.

Osborne was deputy fire chief for the Scranton Fire Department at the time of his hiring. Unlike Scranton's department, which was all paid personnel, Chambersburg relies on a mix of paid firefighters and more than two dozen certified volunteers.

"I've found out firefighting is different all over the country. Everything is local," Osborne said. "What fits in Scranton may not fit in Chambersburg and what fits in Chambersburg may not work in Waynesboro."

"A joint education and training committee is probably the most important thing right now," Osborne said. He wants to see more training involving both the professionals and volunteers "so that the first time they're meeting isn't at the fire scene."

The department draws its volunteers from four companies -- the Junior and Cumberland Valley companies that work out of the headquarters station on North Second Street and the Friendship and Good Will companies based at the McKinley Street station, Osborne said.

The borough is also home to the Franklin Fire Co., which is independent of the department, he said.

Osborne's salary was set at $73,900, according to borough records. The department has a budget of approximately $3 million, second only to the Chambersburg Police Department, in terms of general fund expenditures.

Increasing fire prevention efforts and building the base of certified volunteers also are priorities, Osborne said.

Osborne's time at the helm has been fairly quiet so far.

"We've only had one working structure fire since I've been here," he said.

The borough went through two hiring processes in search of a new chief, the first not having produced a candidate on which the council could agree. The letters of recommendation for Osborne included Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Edward Mann and one from another Scranton native and lifelong friend of the new chief, U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr.

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