Setting the Record Straight: McKees Rocks fire department history

-LETTER TO THE EDITOR-


Dear Editor,


Regarding the articles in the Jan. 7 and Jan. 21 editions of Gazette 2.0:


Former McKees Rocks Council President Paul Krisby disagrees with the outcome of the election for Fire Chief of the McKees Rocks Independent Volunteer Fire Department and wants to appoint his own hand-picked person. Mr. Krisby’s reasoning is that the newly elected Chief Donald Baird does not live in the Borough of McKees Rocks. Well, as I understand it, the chief of police, borough manager and a large portion of employees of McKees Rocks do not live in the borough. So right off the bat, I do not see a problem.


In my opinion, the problem is Mr. Krisby is upset that the firefighters wanted to improve and make a change to bring the department into the year 2021. He wanted his longtime friend to stay in the department driving it into further disrepair. The members want leadership. They want to be led by their chief and they have not been getting that from the former chief.


Donald Baird is a highly trained and educated firefighter. He is knowledgeable in getting grants for the department which is something past leadership has never done.


Furthermore, when I founded the McKees Rocks Independent Volunteer Fire Department, I had 14 charter members. Former Chief Radoycis was not a charter member as he has falsely claimed. He chose to stay away until the “smoke cleared.” He did not want to be part of replacing the paid men [during the transition from paid to a volunteer department]. It was a very turbulent time. Our tires were slashed, windshields were smashed and many received death threats. Former Chief Radoycis wanted no part of that!


The department bylaws were written by me with the help of Roy Hermes and various state and county fire officials. Hermes also gave us firefighting gear to get us started. The bylaws were drawn up as a democracy independent of political influence. There was nothing in the bylaws regarding residency. You had to be a member in good standing for a year to get voted into the department. After a year, you could run for office.


All of the men and women that were duly elected in December are members in good standing with the department. There is no reason and there shouldn’t be any outside interference with them serving in the offices they are elected to/ The borough does not have a legal leg to stand on.


This is nothing new for the fire department. Back in 1984, there was a similar coup by the then mayor and a couple of councilmen. It didn’t work then and it won't work now. Let the men and women of the fire department do their elected duties. Just like all of you “elected” council persons do.


People of McKees Rocks: You have a great bunch of guys and gals risking their lives and giving their time to serve you for nothing but the love of you and the town they represent. These are special people. Does it matter that they live in Kennedy? If that is a problem, I think the employees of the borough should also reside in McKees Rocks. It’s only fair.


— Edward Maritz Sr., founding member and first Chief of McKees Rocks Independent Volunteer Fire Department


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