Petersburg firefighters concerned about department’s future

Updated: Aug. 13, 2018 at 11:24 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - There's growing reaction over the resignation of Petersburg's Fire Chief. Dennis Rubin announced his resignation Monday citing a need to be closer with his family.

This comes just months after sources indicated the chief was going to part ways with the city, although Rubin denied it at the time.

The head of the Petersburg firefighter's union says he has nothing bad to say about the departing chief, but he and fellow firefighters do have some concerns about how the department will be led from this point on.

"There are questions out there, and there aren't a lot of answers right now," Capt. Dan Macaluso with the Petersburg Professional Firefighter's Association said. "No one knew it was coming, so it definitely came as a surprise to us all."

He and his fellow firefighters got word Monday just like everyone else.

Rubin acknowledged he is parting ways with the city, where he began working last summer.

"Chief Rubin, he's only been here for over a year now and he's already leaving," Macaluso said. "Stability has been one of the hardest things for our department when it comes to leadership."

City leaders say Rubin has enhanced the fire department since his time here and are "sad to see him go."

In the meantime, Petersburg plans to have Police Chief Ken Miller, who started around the same time as Rubin, oversee both the fire and police departments temporarily.

"We do oppose that," Macaluso said. "We feel that would compromise the integrity of the fire department and public safety as a whole."

He believes someone with fire experience is needed to keep the fire department afloat.

"No disrespect to Chief Miller. I'm sure he does a wonderful job managing the police department," Macaluso said. "The fire department needs someone who has the institutional knowledge of the fire service and the City of Petersburg to keep us going in the direction we're headed right now. We need to think very hard about who we can put in that position, who's going to be with us for many years to come."

When sources said would be stepping down a few months ago, they cited budget concerns and morale.

After that original report, Rubin followed up saying he wanted to keep his job, but he did not offer any other on-the-record comments. At that time, sources say the city worked out an agreement for that to happen.

Rubin did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

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