Chester City celebrated the appointment of its first deputy fire commissioner in 15 years with William Rigby appointed to the position at the city’s monthly Council meeting last week.
Councilman William “Al” Jacobs said revisiting the use of the position to aid Fire Commissioner Travis E. Thomas is a must, but the execution wasn’t forced.
“(Thomas) has done a fine job, but he needs help (and) he let me know that,” Jacobs said. “I watched (Thomas and Rigby) (for) about a year, now; their chemistry mix is (really) good.”
“The two of them, I think, will work well,” he added.
Aside from providing additional department oversight, the presence of the former vice president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1400 as the number two man may also help extinguish some smoldering flames of strife between the city and the union.
Jacobs recalled sitting opposite Rigby at the table during discussions of contract negotiations that have often turned heated and expressed his amazement at Rigby’s “balanced approach,” a sign that the relationship between the opposing entities could improve.
“(Rigby) has a heart for the City of Chester,” the councilman said.
To all the firefighters lined along the perimeter of Council Chambers, “He represented you guys, well now!” Jacobs told them. “He’s going to continue to represent you all well.”
While garnering support for the fire department, Rigby and Thomas were also mindful of the city’s civilian population, according to Jacobs.
“Everybody has to care about the City of Chester and the people who live here,” the councilman stressed. “There can’t be this contention between the city and the union; it has to be a balance.”
The last person to hold the deputy commissioner position was James Johnson, who later became fire commissioner and recently retired.