Coatesville Fire Chief Kevin Johnson is not quitting the city's fire department, at least not yet.After Monday night's City Council meeting, City Manager Harry Walker said while Johnson had notified the administration about his intent to leave his post at the end of this month, Walker said the city had not accepted the chief's resignation.
The city manager called John-son's decision to leave "a knee-jerk reaction" borne from the chief's frustration with unspecified issues within the department.
Johnson declined to elaborate on the source of his frustration.
"I'm not going to discuss my frustrations (in the newspaper)," the chief said. "I discussed them with the people I needed to discuss them with."
The chief submitted his resignation letter to city officials two weeks ago. At a City Council meeting the same night, Johnson would not confirm he would be stepping down, even as other city officials said they had received copies of Johnson's letter.
"Anymore, I think about (resigning) every day," Johnson said at the time, adding he had not "tendered anything. I've had dialogue with my bosses."
On Tuesday, Johnson continued to be elusive.
Asked again about his resignation letter, Johnson replied, "That doesn't mean nothing. It's a piece of paper. Is it signed?"
Walker also said during Monday's City Council meeting the city is looking at some restructuring of the fire department as a whole, but he said potential changes are hamstrung by its union contract.
"We have a tricky situation with our fire department," Walker said. "It might be good for the union. It's not good for Coatesville."
The city manager has included Johnson in the restructuring discussion, but the chief declined to say what changes were being considered.
Jim Lentz, president of Coatesville's Firefighters Union, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In recent months, the Coatesville Fire Department began accepting applications to hire three firefighters. The city also is looking to curb the depart-ment's overtime expenses, which five months into this year had already exceeded the department's annual $15,000 overtime budget by nearly $10,000.
Entering this year, the fire department was budgeted for four full-time, or career, firefighters, but it has been operating one person short for several months.
The department uses 10 part-timers to help cover shifts, but when those personnel cannot fill in, full-timers have been called upon to work extra.
The city firefighting force is further bolstered by a network of volunteers at the Washington Hose and West End fire companies.
Prior to becoming chief in November 2006, Johnson had worked 26 years in various capacities for the fire department.
When Johnson took the job, City Manager Harry Walker predicted the chief, with his long career as a volunteer firefighter, would help stem the ongoing friction between the paid and volunteer firefighters.
Most say those tensions still exist, but any recent problems between the factions largely have remained out of public view.
Johnson came under scrutiny last month after city officials reportedly found unpaid fire department bills inside Johnson's city hall office. The chief told the Daily Local News most of the bills were duplicates of invoices that had already been paid.
Johnson was paid $2,400 as the city's fire chief. His full-time job is shift captain of firefighters stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.