Ahoskie has new fire chief

Published 10:45 am Monday, September 11, 2017

AHOSKIE – Longtime Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday has retired, earlier than expected.

Dilday – who has over 35 years of service as an Ahoskie firefighter, 29 as Chief – retired Aug. 31, according to Town Manager Kerry McDuffie.

The veteran public servant told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald less than a month ago that he was planning to retire in February of 2018. He had already turned in his retirement papers, with that effective date, to town officials.

Longtime Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday retired effective Aug. 31.

When asked the reasoning behind Dilday’s early retirement, McDuffie stated, “We felt it was best for the fire department as a whole not to be in transition of one fire chief to the next over the next five months (had Dilday’s official retirement date remained for next February).

“Basically, when he announced his retirement late last month, we asked that he make it effective at that time,” McDuffie added. “Sometimes there is drama and turmoil in changing fire chiefs. It was in the town’s best interest to ask him to move that date up.”

The Town Manager said despite Dilday’s retirement coming five months ahead of projection, it would not affect his well-earned benefits.

“He still has over 30 years of employment with the town; thusly he is eligible for full retirement and benefits, to include his medical insurance,” McDuffie noted. “He will receive 100 percent of the benefits he earned.”

To fill the vacancy, McDuffie turned to another veteran firefighter, George Michael Bradley. He is currently a Town of Ahoskie employee at the Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as a longtime member of the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department, where he serves as Chief.

“Mr. Bradley has been a firefighter for a number of years,” McDuffie said. “He will continue as Fire Chief for both the town and rural departments. I feel that will better the cooperation and collaboration between the two departments.”

McDuffie said he checked with the North Carolina Fire Marshal’s Office to ensure that Bradley was in the clear to serve as Chief for two fire departments.

“That is the case,” McDuffie remarked, referencing the dual leadership role.

In another matter involving the Ahoskie Fire Department, McDuffie said that longtime fireman Barry Blowe had ended his employment with the town and accepted a job elsewhere.

The Town Manager said in an ongoing effort to control Ahoskie’s budget, which was reportedly in the “red” by nearly $500,000 in July, the vacancy left by Blowe’s departure will not be filled. That will leave the town’s fire department with four full-time employees.

“We will keep the current rotation of three paid firemen working 24-hour shifts with 48 hours off between those shifts,” McDuffie said. “The other employee, typically the chief, will work a full-time day shift.”

Meanwhile, in a similar cost-cutting measure, McDuffie said the vacancy left at the Wastewater Treatment Plant by moving Bradley to Fire Chief will not be filled.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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