In an effort to resolve their ongoing differences with the Carnegie Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Bureau, Carnegie officials are turning to an outside expert.
Council voted unanimously Monday to hire Mt. Lebanon Fire Chief Nick Sohyda in the hope of reaching resolution on some issues, in particular the wording of an ordinance that recognizes the fire and rescue bureau as Carnegie's firefighting/rescue entity. The possible purchase of a firetruck most likely will be discussed, too.
Chief Sohyda will be paid $50 an hour for his assistance.
"I think everyone knows we have been in discussion with our fire department in recent months," said council President Rick D'Loss, to which Councilman Mike Sarsfield added, "I've been dealing with the fire department and trying to move forward for six years."
Reached Tuesday by phone, Chief Sohyda said many fire departments are wrestling with the concept of accountability.
"When you accept taxpayer dollars, you have to expect some level of accountability," he said.
He sees his role as an advisory one and hopes it will be brief.
Evidence of tensions over the fire department was obvious Monday when officials voted 4-2 to approve the fire and rescue bureau's two mortgage payments, which total $8,954. Council members Bob Veres and Pat Catena voted no.
A motion to pay fire department attorney Dan DeMarco's $1,211 bill failed with a 3-3 tie, but it was approved when Mayor Jack Kobistek cast the tie-breaking vote. Mr. Kobistek said he supported the payment because the borough has been paying the bill, to which Mr. D'Loss noted that the bill was not paid in January because of an unspecified concern.
Still, the mayor said he supported the payout.
"I'll vote to pay now because [the firefighters] have a finite amount of money," he said.
After the meeting, borough manager Jeff Harbin expressed hope that Chief's Sohyda's input would resolve the ordinance impasse between the two sides.
"Hopefully, this can be done and we can put this behind us," he said.
Chief Sohyda, who has been a firefighter for 26 years, has been a Mt. Lebanon Fire Department member since 1999 and that department's chief since April 2006. For seven years before that, he was a lieutenant with the department.
He holds degrees in fire science and fire administration and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program in Emmitsburg, Md. He also has experience as a hazardous materials technician.
Mt. Lebanon is among just 160 fire agencies in the U.S. and Canada to receive Accredited Agency Status from the Fire Accreditation International.
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: email@example.com.