MILLBURY – A local fire chief has answered the Lake Township Trustees' 911 call.
Bruce Moritz was hired at Tuesday's meeting as the full-time Lake Township fire chief, pending a background check.
Moritz has been a fire chief for over 20 years, first with the Clay-Genoa Fire District from 1988 to 2000, then with the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District. He will be paid between $55,000 and $60,000 a year, with exact salary and benefits announced at the Sept. 3 meeting. Moritz is expected to start the next day.
“There comes a point in your career, when you reach a plateau,” he said. “I'm ready for a new challenge.”
The Allen-Clay department has 83 firefighters-EMTs and Lake Township has 63, Moritz said. His current district is about 50 square miles.
“But you come over here, you've got the airport, you've got the railyards,” said Moritz, who is 62 and lives in Genoa.
The trustees hired Moritz after a 25-minute executive session.
“He's very professional and he has all the credentials. He's liked in the community,” Bowen said.
Bowen said 15 people applied for the job. Applicants included one in-house firefighter and others from Nevada, Idaho, Missouri and Georgia, Bowen said. The position had been posted on a state website.
Bowen said the trustees conducted six interviews on Monday.
“It was not an easy decision to make,” she said.
The trustees announced two weeks ago that they were on the fast-track to hire a new, full-time fire chief. Chief Mike Hornyak, who had been the interim, part-time chief since February, said he was leaving the position due to his other full-time job responsibilities, Bowen said.
Hornyak was hired after Chief Todd Walters and firefighters Richard and Michelle Hallock resigned. The three had attended the wedding of Steve Sims, and at the reception they became concerned about the level of intoxication of Scott Sims, a police sergeant.
The Hallocks drove Scott Sims home, then decided to treat him with two bags of saline solution from a township fire station.
Walters had been part-time chief since February 2009 and a firefighter for more than 25 years. Scott Sims served a five-day suspension.
After the meeting, Welling said Moritz will have to deal with the fallout from February, including morale issues.
“He said he wants a challenge, and we told him he's going to have a challenge here,” said Welling, who added that Moritz is leaving a new fire building in Allen-Clay.
Moritz said every fire department has its issues, and Lake Township is recovering.
“Those challenges have been answered,” he said.