Fire department completes its effort to restructure

It adds third non-union battalion chief to mix

Nov. 17, 2009

Greenfield — ale Fire Chief Jon Cohn will become one of three newly created battalion chiefs in the Greenfield Fire Department as part of its reorganizational efforts.

Through the restructuring, three non-union battalion chiefs will now be in supervisory roles rather than captains, who are unionized, Greenfield Fire Chief Russ Spahn said.

"We felt it necessary to get a true supervisor on each shift," he said.

Mostly internal adjustments

Battalion chiefs can also be part of the planning and budget process of the department, something that union employees could not be privy to, Spahn said.

No new hires were added as a result of the restructuring. The department promoted two other candidates, former lieutenants Jeff Hohensee and Jim Mollet, to the position of battalion chief.

One of the three captains retired and the other two were reassigned. The structure now falls in line with most other area fire departments, Spahn said.

Foreshadowing further change?

Cohn began in Greendale in February 2007 after serving as a lieutenant and interim battalion chief in the North Shore Fire Department.

His most recent move comes at a time when Greenfield city officials and Common Council members have openly discussed the possibility of merging the Greenfield and Greendale fire departments.

Cohn acknowledged that his position in Greenfield could "create an opportunity for further discussions" on merging. Suburban fire departments already work closely together through mutual aid agreements, so combining departments, in the eyes of some officials, may be the next step.

"At some point in the future, it has to happen" based on economics, service demand and the cost of vehicles and equipment, Cohn said.

Another Green opportunity

Cohn saw the battalion chief job as "an exciting opportunity" to work in a larger department, he said. Greenfield has two fire stations and 16 firefighters per shift, compared to one station and a total of 18 people in Greendale.

Nevertheless, it was not an easy decision to leave Greendale, Cohn said.

"It's a terribly difficult move especially when I feel like we created a lot of momentum and you don't want to see that momentum lost," he said. "You feel like you have some unfinished business."

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