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Brandon fire chief is out, citing “differences”

BRANDON — The Dunmore Hose Company is currently without a fire chief.
Brandon Fire Chief Roman Wdowiak has resigned citing internal policy disputes and philosophical differences with the fire department membership.
Wdowiak submitted a letter of resignation to Brandon Fire District No. 1 Superintendent Ray Counter following the annual district meeting on Jan. 13 and asked Counter to submit copies to the district’s prudential board.
Reached for comment Tuesday morning, Wdowiak said the decision was clear to him.
“It’s quite simple,” he said. “It came down to philosophical differences about what the future of the department was.”
When asked to elaborate on those differences, Wdowiak demurred.
“Those differences were something that caused me to feel that I needed to step down,” he said.
The board called an emergency meeting on Jan. 22, which Wdowiak attended. Board Chair Del Cook said Monday that the board accepted the chief’s resignation after extensive discussion.
“I think he felt at the time that he wasn’t getting the support, so he went ahead and tendered his resignation,” Cook said. “I hate to see Roman go, but it’s his decision. We had a great relationship with him.”
As of Monday, the fire department membership had not elected a new fire chief.
Wdowiak was elected chief in 2012 following the resignation of Eric Mallory, who stepped down a few months later due to health concerns. Mallory had been elected by the membership from the floor at the April 2012 biannual meeting, ousting veteran fire chief Bob Kilpeck after 22 years.
At the time, Kilpeck had an issue with the membership electing the chief rather than the Prudential Board appointing a fire chief, and felt a lack of support from department members.
Minutes fro the Jan. 22 emergency meeting indicate that Wdowiak felt the same way.
“He feels that because of the differences and lack of support from the membership that he should step down at this time,” the minutes read.
The Prudential Board asked Wdowiak if he would stay on until the biannual meeting in April when new officers are elected, but Wdowiak declined.
According to the meeting minutes, Dunmore Hose Company President Tom Kilpeck said that department members would meet to discuss the chief position, but may opt not to fill the vacancy until the April meeting.
“They’ve decided to just run with the officers,” Wdowiak said. “The Brandon Fire Department is still doing what the Brandon Fire Department does.”
And Wdowiak is still fighting fires. He did not resign from the department, just as fire chief. He will continue to be a firefighter in the Brandon Fire Department, without the white chief’s helmet.
“Yes, as we call it, I’m wearing a black helmet at this time,” he said.
Board Chair Cook said Monday that although the board was disappointed in Wdowiak’s resignation, there is not doubt a qualified replacement would be elected.
“They’ve got some very capable people that, so I’m sure they’ll elect someone qualified for the job,” he said.

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