Webber Twp. appoints new fire chief

WEBBER TWP. — Despite initially saying they would make the decision after the start of the new year, the board of Webber Township has appointed Aaron Summers as the chief of the Webber Twp. Fire Department.

This appointment came on Dec. 17, only two days after the board's dismissal of the previous chief, Cathy Harvey, at a Dec. 15 board meeting. The switch in leadership is a result of internal conflicts and infighting among members of the department over issues such as perceived double standards and special treatment, claims that department personnel failed to follow proper protocols and safety procedures, accusations of drug use while on duty, and arguments during active fires.

Summers' name was suggested during the Dec. 15 meeting, but some present questioned whether he was qualified for the position.

"We had him in mind, but we had to see if it was possible," said Webber Twp. board member Pat Williams. "There was some concern he was missing some of the necessary certifications, but we confirmed he was qualified. We thought it would take a few weeks, but it did not. We thought sooner was better than later."

Summers previously worked for the Baldwin Fire Department, but Summers explained to the Webber Twp. board he resigned for personal reasons.

Summers said he plans on setting the department straight and ensuring it lives up to its potential, which he considers high.

"Right now, I don't have much knowledge on all of that (the conflicts within the department)," said Summers. "I can say the department is in for an overhaul."

Summers said he will bring the department in line without disrespecting those who have been working their hardest and risking their safety to get the job done.

"I'm here to work with an attitude of professionalism and camaraderie," said Summers. "What I can say about all of this is we have good firefighters."

Al Dailey and Ken Karvey had been named the interim leaders of the department following the Dec. 15 meeting. Dailey declined to comment on the appointment and Harvey could not be reached. The board of Webber Twp., however, is pleased with Summers' appointment.

"We're absolutely excited to have him here," said Williams. "Especially after the way he handled the fire (on Dec. 22). He is going to be a great leader."