Hobart officials place limits on number of fire department officers

2013-02-15T00:00:00Z 2013-03-13T17:47:05Z Hobart officials place limits on number of fire department officersDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | The Fire Department's top brass is top heavy, Fire Chief Brian Taylor told city officials.

So the chief asked the City Council to cut the number of administrators. The council approved an ordinance limiting the number of battalion chiefs, captains and lieutenants to three in each category.

Ranked firefighters make more money, which in the long run affects the department's bottom line, Taylor said.

"I overspent my rank line item in the budget over the years by a lot," Taylor said.

Action by the City Council didn't affect an earlier request that same day by Taylor before the  Board of Public Works, City Attorney Anthony DeBonis said.

That request,  which was approved, was to promote to captain from lieutenant Mark Slonaker and Robert Lamprecht.

Slonaker and Lamprecht were both highest on the eligibility list and were entitled to the promotion to fill two vacated captain positions, Taylor said.

Taylor late last year had sought to demote Slonaker, accusing him of making disparaging remarks about the fire department and some fellow firefighters.

The Fire Commission in a ruling made last year found Slonaker guilty of three of five charges and gave him a five-day suspension he has already served, officials said.

The Fire Commission, in its ruling, had also placed Slonaker on probation for one year, making him ineligible for promotion.

That part of the ruling was reversed by the Board of Public Works after DeBonis said the Fire Commission didn't have to authority to place Slonaker on probation or deny him promotions.

Taylor said there had been 10 lieutenants on the department, prior to action taken by the City Council and Board of Works.

There are now eight lieutenants, three battalion chiefs and three captains following the approved changes.

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