Reading names First Deputy Gary Mogel acting fire chief

Department veteran replaces David Hollinger, who resigned last week

Reading names fire department veteran as acting chief

READING, Pa. - The man chosen to lead the Reading Fire Department is following in his father's footsteps, at least on an interim basis.

The city on Tuesday named First Deputy Chief Gary Mogel acting chief while it conducts a search for a permanent chief.

Mogel replaces former Chief David Hollinger, who abruptly resigned last week after only 13 months on the job.

Mogel has more than 31 years combined volunteer and career experience with the Reading Fire Department, including 11 years as a deputy.

"Gary's experience and the respect he commands is just what the department needs right now," said Carole Snyder, Reading's managing director. "We are fortunate to have someone with Deputy Chief Mogel's credentials who is willing to provide stability to the department during this time of transition."

Mogel comes from a family of fire professionals: He is the son of Russell Mogel, who served as Reading's fire chief from 1971 until 1983.

Hollinger cited a "hostile work environment" as his reason for for stepping down, according to his July 8 resignation letter to Mayor Vaughn Spencer, which was obtained by 69 News last week.

"I feel that a majority of the hard-working men and women of this department have an appetite to contribute to the vitality and growth of the community," Hollinger said. "Unfortunately, during my tenure, there has been intimidation, stalking behavior, harassment, and threats from the union and management staff."

Hollinger, who returned to his hometown of Reading to officially become chief on June 1, 2012, after spending most of his career with the fire department in Washington, D.C., did not elaborate on the claims he made in his letter.

The firefighters' union took a no confidence vote against Hollinger in March, with members agreeing that he was unfit to lead the department.

The firefighters then laid out several of its complaints for City Council, including claims that Hollinger belittled the department's deputy chiefs and lied on a FEMA grant application.

Hollinger said the union opposed the $4 million in federal money because it would increase the department's level of staffing, thereby reducing overtime income for current firefighters.

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