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Former firefighter appeals dismissal

Rich Rolen, former deputy fire chief, appealed his expulsion from the Fountain Hill Fire Department to borough council Nov. 2.

He said he was removed from his position because he spoke at a previous meeting as a citizen, voicing safety concerns about the new fire truck.

Rolen said he was sent a text message informing him of his dismissal. He argued that this is above the power of Fire Chief Derek Richmond to make this decision. He then listed his job accomplishments, including coordinating a fire truck appreciation parade for the staff of St. Luke’s and conducting drive-by birthday parties for kids during the pandemic. Rolen concluded his appeal by asking for reinstatement to the fire department.

Borough attorney Peter Lehr explained that council has not before exercised the ordinance to interfere with decisions made by the fire department. Lehr told Rolen they were not in a formal appeal hearing and that council cannot render a formal appeal of the dismissal.

Rolen then requested such and Lehr told him council has not exercised the authority to overturn dismissal decisions in recent years. He then advised council not to exercise any rights under the borough ordinance and see it as a separate entity.

The issue was then offered for any additional comments, where a few attendees made arguments for Rolen to be reinstated, while others advised that further steps should have been taken before the dismissal of Rolen. Council accepted Lehr’s advice and chose not to interfere with the decision. Rolen concluded his statement by announcing he will be seeking legal counsel.

In his report, Police Chief Ed Bachert said they must have distributed over 100 pounds of candy, and then recommended Matthew Devers as a part-time police officer. The motion passed.

In new business, Manager Anthony Branco presented council with the PennDOT maintenance agreement to adjust Americans with Disabilities Act ramps as part of the $1 million grant project to pave Broadway from Route 378 to Salisbury Township. The motion passed.

Former member Norman Black was confirmed to fill a council vacancy. Lehr recommended that with a full board, it was time to fill Leo Atkinson’s open president seat, as he resigned in October because he disagreed with a rising police budget. Council members agreed.

Public Works committee member Annamarie Jordan announced that the library will soon open for limited browsing, while the use of computers will be by appointment only.

The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18.

Fountain Hill Council meeting participants (top) Will Rufe, Helen Halleman, Annmarie Jordan, Jamie Johnson, (middle) Al Abrecht, Debbie Spadaccia, Mike Langton, (bottom) Peter Lehr and Doug Trotter.