However, the mayor said, Michaels' title will be “acting chief” — a qualification that stems from Bracey's ongoing talks with York Area United Fire and Rescue about a potential merger of fire services.
“We're in active conversations with YAUFR,” Bracey said. “Their model already has a chief.”
Michaels, currently a deputy chief, has accepted his new role and will take over after Buffington's retirement becomes official April 29, Bracey said. Michaels is a longtime member of the department and a well-qualified successor, she said.
Michaels does not live in the city, Bracey said. Because of York's residency requirements, he would have to move in order to be named chief, she said.
Potential for merger: Bracey has in recent months expressed interest in partnering with other fire departments as a way of streamlining efficiency and rescuing the cash-strapped city from skyrocketing costs. She initiated conversations late last year with YAUFR, which formed in 2008 with the merger of departments in Springettsbury and Spring Garden townships. Some volunteer companies have since joined, and Manchester Township is considering doing the same.
In an unannounced presentation to the York City Council in February, Bracey appeared alongside two YAUFR representatives to urge open-mindedness about the idea.
Bracey said Friday that she sees the potential for cost-savings, but, she said, she is willing to move forward only if sharing services does not jeopardize public safety. Shared services does not necessarily mean a full merger, she added.
Bracey said she is hopeful an agreement could be reached before the end of the year.
“I'm optimistic that there will be aggressive conversations,” she said.
From chief to inspector: As for Buffington, Bracey said she intends to offer him a position as a code inspector for the city, issuing building permits.
Bracey announced March 26 that Buffington would be retiring from the position he has held for about 20 months. The 30-year veteran of the York City Fire Department holds all of the certifications and has all the skills necessary to be an inspector, Bracey said.
She said the city's contract with a third-party inspection company will soon expire. Bracey projected the city could save thousands of dollars by having some code-inspection work done instead by city employees.
Buffington “has the perfect personality, knack for working with developers,” she said.
— Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.