Governor orders flags lowered for fallen Dover fire chief

York City Fire Chief Chad Deardorff to leave post

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Four adults have been displaced by a fire in the 300 block of West Market Street, Monday, May 4, 2020. According to York City Fire Chief Chad Deardorff, it is suspected that the fire started outside the building due to discarded smoking items, and traveled up the wall through four floors. Red Cross is assisting the displaced.
John A. Pavoncello photo

York City Fire Chief Chad Deardorff is set to retire after 26 years with the department and be replaced by an acting chief later this month, the city announced Wednesday.

Deputy Chief William Sleeger will be named acting chief on March 26, according the news release. The city does not intend to advertise the open chief position, said Philip Given, Mayor Michael Helfrich's chief of staff.

Deardorff first began his career with the department in 1995. He has worked with the department ever since and was appointed as chief in 2019.  

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the residents and visitors of the City of York," Deardorff said. "I have had the distinct pleasure of working with some of the best firefighters this profession has ever seen."

More:York City fire chief's wife begs council to waive residency mandate

More:York City Council gives fire chief another year to meet residency mandate

Deardorff has accepted the post of manager of safety and emergency management at WellSpan's Apple Hill campus, he said in an interview after the announcement. 

The job will allow him to have more flexible hours to spend time with his family, he said.

“On behalf of the entire City of York I want to thank Chief Deardorff for his decades of service in our community,” Helfrich said in the city's statement. “Chief Deardorff pulled the team together and supported our firefighters during some of the most difficult emotional times that our fire department has ever seen."

York City Deputy Fire Chief William Sleeger.

Sleeger, like Deardorff, would come in as a chief without being a York City resident. He lives in Manchester Township, but the city expects him to move into the city, Given said.

"The intent is for Sleeger to remain head of the department, after his period of acting chief is concluded and his appointment has been approved by City Council," Given said. 

Deardorff's retirement comes a year after tensions arose between Helfrich and York City Council members over the fact that Deardorff lived outside city limits.

The chief had already been granted one waiver a year before, and the City Council was set to vote on granting him a second waiver.

Council members harangued Helfrich because he knew in September 2019 that Deardorff would not move into the city, yet Helfrich waited until January to inform them, they said.

Then, in February, Deardorff's wife, Jess, in an emotional plea argued to council members that leaving his West Manchester Township home would "uproot" his family.

Council members eventually relented, voting unanimously to extend the chief's residency waiver for another year. The vote came just days before his previous waiver expired. 

Deardorff moved into the city last month.

-- This is developing news. Check back for updates.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.