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Merrill approves new fire department reorginization


MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) - Merrill city officials have approved a fire department reorganization plan that will coincide with the hiring of a new chief.

City administrator Dave Johnson says they'll be changing the way the department is structured in order to simplify the chain of command. "We're going from 9 different pay grades out to just 4." The move will get rid of the assistant chief and lieutenant positions, and leave the department with a chief, three shift captains and a floating 4th captain who will also double as the training officer for the department.

City council president Steve Haas says the move is there to help the department. "We're moving to a single building with a new chief, and we wanted to get this done and over with before he comes in to the position." The move will only save the department about $2,000 this year in salary, but Haas says the future ease for the department will be the greater outcome.

The change does modify the number of officers in the department who will be union exempt. Under state law, the top two ranks of the fire department are managerial and separated from Union staffing. Haas says he hasn't heard any complaints from the department or the firefighters on the plan.

The measure passed last night 6 to 1. David Savone of Fox River Grove, Illinois was hired last week to become the new fire chief. He will start before the end of the year and will replace the retiring Bob Odegard. Savone beat out three other candidates for the position.