Paid chief?

Bellevue mayor Emily Marburger announced at Tuesday’s pre-council meeting that she was proposing a department restructuring plan that not only would involve hiring a paid full-time fire chief, but transition that position into heading the code enforcement office as well.

Bellevue’s fire department currently includes three paid firefighters employed by the borough, and a group of volunteers who choose their own line officers, including the chief. The chief has full authority over all personnel at a fire scene. One of the paid firefighters also serves as the borough’s fire marshal and enforces the applicable fire safety code provisions for properties in the borough.

Bellevue also employs a code enforcement officer who handles such areas as building and zoning codes and permits, as well as property maintenance codes.

Council member Linda Woshner objected to the idea of adding additional employees, and council member Glenn Pritchard agreed that there was no room in the borough’s budget for what could be a six figure salary. Pritchard is an officer with the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Company, and noted that the VFC is a private organization that is not required to recognize a paid fire chief employed by the borough.