The South Windsor Board of Fire Commissioners on Wednesday gave its stamp of approval to Chief Kevin Cooney’s proposal to restructure the 130-member department.
Cooney, who took over the South Windsor Volunteer Fire Department on July 1, had the authority to restructure the department, but still sought the blessing of the board.
Included in the restructuring is the creation of 11 positions within the department: five division chiefs, a deputy chief, three captains and two lieutenants.
While Cooney did not have to obtain the approval of the commissioners to restructure the department, he did have to get the OK from them to promote members of the department - six chief officers, four captains and five lieutenants - into various positions.
Cooney said that he will make public the names of those promoted after he addresses the fire department’s rank and file next Tuesday. In addition, several positions had their duties and responsibilities realigned. The chief, for example, will now handle the department’s public information duties.
“Basically, we’re trying to get the staff officers to be chief officers, and the company officers to have the rank of captain and lieutenant,” he said after the meeting. “I will address the entire department outlining the new positions and the job descriptions.”
On thing that Cooney wanted to make clear was that the changes, which take effect Sept. 1, are neither drastic, nor a reflection on the jobs performed by prior fire chiefs.
“The prior chiefs did an outstanding job building the department to where it is now,” Cooney said. “This is not a negative step. We were not in a bad spot. … I was left in a very good position when I took over.”
Instead, Cooney said that the leadership structure needed to be “tweaked” to reflect the increase in the membership of the department, which has grown from 100 to 130 members in a relatively short period of time. In addition, a poll taken of the volunteer fire department last fall indicated that some changes in the leadership structure were in order.
“[The changes] bring in a little bit more accountability,” said Cooney, who thanked the commissioners for giving their approvals. “I appreciate their support very much.”