Fire truck

EASTON, Pa. – Easton's Fire Department is going gender-neutral, at least in the ordinance that governs operations.

Easton City Council's Public Safety Committee reviewed ordinance changes Tuesday that include converting "men" in the ordinance to "firefighters," and "he" will become "the Fire Chief."

For example, the current language, "When answering an alarm of fire, he shall be in complete charge of all officers, men and apparatus'' will be "When answering an alarm of fire, the Fire Chief will have complete charge of all officers, firefighters …."

Only 4% of professional firefighters in the U.S. are women, the Harvard Business Review reported last year.

The gender term changes were not an issue at the meeting.

The committee and City Administrator Luis Campos agreed to look at other revisions later, and no action was taken on the fire ordinance.

The ordinance will define policies such as who is in charge when Fire Chief Mike Krill is not present, and which officers can make the call to bring in extra firefighters if needed. That is an issue because of high overtime costs in the department.

Peter Melan, chairman of the committee, said some items Krill and Campos want in the ordinance appear to be redundant.

Campos said that the city needs precise language in case a union firefighter files a grievance. Any ambiguity in the ordinance could be used against the city in arbitration, he said.

Campos said other sections of the ordinance involving promotions stem from Mayor Sal Panto's desire to get politics out of that process.

The committee, which includes David O'Connell and James Edinger, and Campos agreed to review the document at a later meeting. Campos said he will seek input from the city solicitor on some portions of the proposed ordinance revision.

At Wednesday's regular City Council meeting, Easton's 2020 budget and tax rate will be reviewed, along with resolutions on salaries, and benefits for non-union full-time employees, and the appointment of Joel Scheer as city solicitor.

Another resolution on Wednesday's agenda would cancel the council meeting scheduled for Christmas night.