By Jamie Wiggan
Following news that the McKees Rocks Volunteer Fire Department had ousted its chief of 28 years during a December board meeting, Council President Paul Krisby has vowed to override the department’s vote and install a new chief at January’s borough meeting.
Krisby stated his intent in a letter, co-signed by Mayor Jack Muhr, sent to fire department officials Dec. 23.
“Once [Chief Nicholas Radoycis] retires, the McKees Rocks Borough Council will appoint a new Fire Chief to lead the McKees Rocks Volunteer Fire Department,” the letter states.
Krisby said he was prompted by residents and other councilmembers who contacted him with concerns about the recent leadership changes announced on the fire company’s Facebook page Dec. 16. As well as disapproving of Radoycis’ removal, Krisby said he’s also responding to a shift of power toward Kennedy Township residents who volunteer at the McKees Rocks company.
“If you take everybody from McKees Rocks and throw them out, it sounds like you have a coup to me,” he said. “My job as the president of council is to protect the Borough of McKees Rocks.”
Krisby said he will ask Radoycis to recommend a successor for council to appoint when it convenes on Jan. 15.
How the department will respond, and whether the borough has authority to implement personnel appointments, remains to be seen. Donald Baird, a Kennedy resident named as the next chief in the department’s Dec. 16 announcement, did not respond to requests for comment.
During an interview for a previous story, Baird said the move to appoint him resulted from a desire for a change of direction within the department.
Radoycis declined to comment on the administrative changes but confirmed his retirement effective Jan. 1, 2021.
“I am the longest serving fire chief in the history of McKees Rocks,” Radoycis said in a written statement. “I am proud of the record of progress I leave behind. We are the best equipped and trained we will ever be.”
Radoycis was a founding member when the volunteer company formed in 1983, and has served as chief for 28 years.