South Strabane fire chief prepares to step down after 24 years | Local News
For nearly five decades, Scott Reese has worked in the fire service, and after 24 years as chief of the South Strabane Township Fire Department, he’s ready to quit.
Reese, 62, will retire from his current position on April 4, a date he is looking forward to. Reese started with the South Strabane department in 1989.
However, his career as a firefighter began in 1976, when he joined the Lone Pine Fire Department in Amwell Township, where he grew up.
“Just being a firefighter on your own is rewarding because you’re going out and helping someone,” Reese said. “Where I started was a small community, so most of the time you knew the people you were going to and helping.”
Bob Weber, chairman of the South Strabane board of supervisors, had nothing but praise for the job Reese did as fire chief.
“Scott and I have worked together since 2016. He was a conscientious and reliable fire chief for South Strabane. He carried out his administrative duties in a professional manner,” Weber said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Most importantly, his performance as an emergency scene commander was excellent… A scholarly colleague and friend, he will be missed.”
When Reese started at South Strabane, the community and the department itself were very different.
Reese remembers that they answered 75 to 100 calls a year.
In 2021, they answered 702 calls.
This large increase is an indicator of South Strabane’s commercial and residential growth.
“When I first became chief in 1998, Trinity Point wasn’t there, Strabane Square wasn’t there, Tanger Outlets wasn’t there, Old Mill Shops wasn’t there, Meadows Landing wasn’t there. was not there. All this development, just on the business side… these things impact your community,” Reese said.
The fire department itself was actually made up of two departments. Station 37 was chartered in 1956 and Station 44 was chartered four years later, according to Reese. Merging the two was one of Reese’s first tasks as leader.
“They were going to do the same work but marching to a different pace,” Reese said. “Not always bread and butter. There were many challenges and problems to solve. »
The departments merged in 2005 and became stations 44-1 and 44-2.
“It was one charter, one meeting, one bank account, and one relief association. Before that, everything was different,” Reese said.
Station 44-1 is located at 1696 East Maiden St. and Station 44-2 is at 172 Oak Springs Road.
Since then, the department has become a combined service with both paid and volunteer firefighters.
As Reese prepares to leave, he hopes his successor will continue to adapt to changes in the community to provide reliable service. Reese also believes that one of the most important roles the fire department can play is to teach fire prevention.
“A lot of people don’t understand (preventing fires) is the No. 1 goal of a fire department,” Reese said. “You do it through local programs with your elementary school.”
He pointed to the more than 400 students at Trinity East Primary School.
“What a great time to be able to step into a young child’s life and be able to start teaching them about fire prevention and fire safety,” said Reese.
These efforts are having an impact, Reese says, as children often go home and talk with their families about their own fire prevention plans.
“Hopefully it’s something that continues to happen for generations to come,” Reese said.
As for who will replace Reese, Township Manager Brandon Stanick said the board of oversight plans to make a hire in March.
Stanick said the township received 16 applications for the position. These nominees are reviewed by a committee that includes Stanick, Weber, Supervisor Russell Grego, North Strabane Fire Chief Mark Grimm, Washington County Public Safety Director Jerry Coleman, Fire Department Chairman Cory Gaiser , a career firefighter and two volunteer firefighters.
As for Reese’s post-retirement plans, he said he hasn’t given much thought to them, but said he hopes to find new interests that don’t carry the stress of running a fire department.
“I know I don’t want to sit at home and twiddle my thumbs,” Reese said.