ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Allentown City Council approved the appointment of Efrain "Freddie" Agosto Jr. as the city's next fire chief Wednesday night. The vote was unanimous.
Agosto has been with the city's fire department since 2003, when he joined as a firefighter. During that time, Agosto learned the nuts and bolts of firefighting through hundreds of fire and Emergency Medical Services calls, vehicle and water rescues, and fire alarms, according to his résumé.
In those initial years, he was assigned as a reserve firefighter, "which allowed me to move around from station to station and gain experience from just about every officers and firefighter on the department," he wrote. Eventually his firefighting duties led to his work as a pipeman in the department, and driver.
Roughly nine years later, he was promoted to the position of fire marshal/inspector. In this role, Agosto investigated multiple fires involving residences, automobiles, and brush, and he inspected various facilities for code compliance and permitting.
After two years, he was elevated to the assistant chief of fire prevention, a role in which he managed all matters pertaining to the city's fire prevention division and was responsible for the enforcement of all fire prevention laws and ordinances related to life and property.
In August 2018, Agosto became the department's deputy fire chief, which remained his current position until Wednesday night. As second in command, Agosto supervised and evaluated battalion chiefs, assistant fire chiefs, captains and lieutenants assigned to their respective divisions, as well as personnel and apparatus assigned to the fire department.
The new fire chief received an honorable discharge in 1989 from the U.S. Army after three years of service.
Agosto graduated from Louis E. Dieruff High School in 1986 and is working toward bachelor's degrees in Spanish and political science from Muhlenberg College. He is able to speak, read and write Spanish — in addition to English — with fluent competence.
"Thank you for your confidence in me," Agosto told council following the vote.
Agosto replaces former Allentown Fire Chief James Wehr, who recently retired after 27 years with the department. Agosto will receive annual compensation of $128,912.22.
In other news, council voted 4-3 to allocate $200 for a presentation by CAHOOTS, which stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets. The Oregon-based program uses a medic and a behavioral crisis worker to handle nonviolent police calls.
In addition, a resolution did not pass to recommend the Lehigh County administration, court and district attorney pursue policies that would reduce the number of newly incarcerated people to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the Lehigh County Jail. One such policy was to place nonviolent criminals "who do not pose a threat to public safety" under house arrest.