OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg finds its fire chief – for now. Not everyone is happy with the move.
Ogdensburg didn’t have to look far for an acting fire chief. He was sitting right in city hall. New interim city manager Stephen Jellie will fill in as head firefighter.
“Working in close relationship with the four assistant fire chiefs that we have, I’ll be largely taking some of the administrative burden off them,” said Jellie.
Since January, the department has not had a chief. Lately, the assistant chiefs have run it on a rotating basis. The firefighters union wants one firefighter to be appointed acting chief, but from within the department. It doubts Jellie can do both jobs.
“When you’re focused on both of those things and juggling both jobs, obviously when you’re juggling, sometimes you drop something,” said Jason Bouchard, Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799 president.
Jellie says he does want to get a permanent chief on board. A search last year turned up no qualified candidates.
Jellie is a former Fort Drum deputy fire chief and has the state qualifications to be a chief. He’ll take no extra pay for doing the chief’s job.
On another front, the city is making preparations to get a permanent police chief on board. The city council could hear about plans for interviews as soon as next month.
Three current Ogdensburg police officers have passed the chief’s test. The city has been without a police chief since May.
“It’s an absolutely critical position that I want to get filled as soon as possible,” said Jellie.
The cut of four police department positions have roiled the city for months. A similar cut was proposed for the fire department until it was discovered it would violate the union contract.