Q & A With Saline's New Fire Chief

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Now that Jason Sperle’s signature has had enough time to dry on the contract confirming him as Saline’s new fire chief, he will have a lot to do before his first official day on June 21. Sperle will be shadowing outgoing Fire Chief Hoeft until his official retirement on June 30.

“I am very pleased that the process is now over – based upon Mr. Sperle’s background, experience, education and passion, I have no doubt that he will be an outstanding fire chief for the Saline community,” Saline Mayor Brian Marl told the Sun Times News.

Sperle took enough time out of his busy schedule transferring out of his current role as Pittsfield Township’s Fire Marshal to become the leader of the Saline Area Fire Department to speak with the Sun Times News. The following conversation was conducted over the phone and has been edited for length and clarity.

TSTN:
Now that you have the chief’s position, how excited are you to start in your new role?

Jason Sperle:
“I’m pretty excited. I’m ready to get to work. It’s been a while since the process started, so I’m excited to get over there and start working.”

TSTN:
You said during your candidacy interview that you have always loved Saline since you grew up in the area. What was it about this position, in this town, that made you want to apply?

Sperle:
“I like the small town feel. It’s a good department and Chief Hoeft leaves behind a pretty good legacy. Opportunities like this don’t come up very often.”

TSTN:
You and every other candidate spoke admiringly about the outgoing Chief Hoeft. What was it about how he did his job that worked so well, and how are you planning on emulating him?

Sperle:
“He’s been there for a while. He knows his guys, he supports them. Talk to anyone in the county and [they’ll say] he’s just a good guy. He’s down to Earth, he’s personable. … I see myself trying to stay that way, just getting along with people.”

TSTN:
Saline is expected to keep growing once the pandemic ends. How are you going to approach continuing the quality of your fire services to a growing population?

Sperle:
“That’s going to require more people down the road. It’s not exactly just my call. I’d like to build a bigger fire department; but that’s going to come with growth, and budgets, and money. … It’s really easy to say that you’d like more people, but it’s not really easy in local government to just add staffing.”

TSTN:
Are there any structural changes in how the department is run that you are planning on changing, even if they are minor ones?

Sperle:
“I have to talk to talk to Chief Hoeft and evaluate things myself. … [I’m] taking over a good department, so I don’t see there being changes. But obviously, if there’s safety concerns, or if all the members have an issue, then we’ll address it. But I don’t plan on going in and making big changes. But again, it’s too early to tell.”

TSTN:
What technological changes are you expecting in the future, to allow you and your firefighters to do your job safer and more efficiently?

Sperle:
“There’s thermal imaging cameras … better materials [for fire suits]. … There are things that are changing every day, so I plan on looking into that stuff. Some things are good on paper, but when you actually [put them into] practical use, it actually isn’t great. Technology is constantly moving, so we have got to look into everything, make sure it works and that it is also [cost efficient.]”

Headline Image Credit: Jason Sperle

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