The city of Cedarburg personnel committee voted Monday, Oct. 24, to consider two new paid positions for the fire department.
The positions would be a full-time fire inspector and a part-time fire chief. Council President Michael O'Keefe and council members John Czarnecki and Jack Arnett voted in favor of the new positions proposed by Chief Jeffrey Vahsholtz, who also serves as detective sergeant in the Cedarburg Police Department.
Vahsholtz brought the two proposals to the committee as a means of addressing the staffing demands of the fire department. According to Vahsholtz, a full-time fire inspector would be able to establish a stronger familiarity with the needs of the community by keeping track of inspections for the entire year. Vahsholtz made reference to the issue of understaffing within the department and their ongoing task of recruiting more volunteer firefighters.
In regard to the part-time fire chief position, Vahsholtz told the committee that this would eventually need to be a full-time paid position, pointing out that other communities in Ozaukee County already employ a full-time fire chief.
Vahsholtz was not the only member of the police department at the meeting. Police Chief Thomas Frank was also in attendance to propose wage increases for the administrative assistant to the police chief and for dispatchers. When asked about where the money would be found in the budget, Frank informed the committee about the switch to propane for patrol cars, which would free up money to increase wages. Frank said that the increases were necessary given the demands of the jobs and the turnover rate of dispatchers.
"I've had dispatchers leave after a few months because they said they could not handle the stress of the job," said Frank.
Frank and Vahsholtz see these new positions as necessary additions to continue serving the large and demanding community that is Cedarburg.
"At the end of the day, it's all for the community and keeping it safe," Vahsholtz told the committee.