MUNSTER | The Town Council has appointed Dave Pelc its interim fire chief.
Pelc takes the helm of a Fire Department stunned by the sudden death of Fire Chief James J. Knesek Sr. at age 59. Knesek died of an apparent heart attack at his home following a callout to a car accident on Feb. 8.
With more than 30 years of experience on the Munster Fire Department, Pelc had been serving as battalion chief, and had been acting as chief since Knesek’s death. Pelc also serves as the town’s emergency services manager and is a member of the Public Works Department.
Knesek had the dual role of director of operations for the Public Works Department. But a new director of operations may not be needed if the Town Council moves on the idea of naming a full-time public safety director, who would oversee the police and fire departments. The matter remains under discussion for now.
The town intends to search internally to fill open fire and public works positions. The Town Council hired Voorhees & Associates as consultant and search partner on all internal applications for the positions.
In other action, the Town Council raised the annual uniform allowance to police officers from to $1,700 per month—a $1,000 increase, and a move said to put Munster in line with what police departments in some neighboring communities receive. Munster police haven’t received a uniform allowance increase in 15 years.