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St. Joseph fire chief resigns

The fire chief of the newly formed St. Joseph Township Fire Rescue Corp. resigned Tuesday after just over two months of service.

Former Chief Timothy Jones, who was hired Jan. 1, is going on "to bigger and better opportunities," St. Joseph Township Trustee Richard Uhrick said Wednesday. He left on good terms, Uhrick said.

"He did a lot and contributed a lot since he has been here," Uhrick said.

In December, Uhrick announced he would disband the 60-year-old St. Joseph Fire Department by the end of the year and would create a new fire rescue corporation that would be under the control of a five-member board, which includes Uhrick.

The rancor between the previous fire chief, some of the volunteer firefighters and Uhrick created an atmosphere of distrust, which resulted in Uhrick's hiring off-duty policemen as guards to oversee the transition Dec. 31.

David Ringer, who has served as assistant chief since the new corporation was formed, will be the new chief, Uhrick said. Ringer, 34, comes to the corporation with 16 years of firefighting experience.

Ringer worked on the southwest side of Indianapolis and in Elkhart Township before coming to St. Joseph Township, he said.

Ringer worked directly under Jones and also gave credit to Jones for "positive growth."

"We are very appreciative of all that he did," Ringer said.

All the new corporation members are volunteers except Ringer, who will be paid the fire chief's salary of $42,000 a year.

"We are doing well," Uhrick said. "We had eight people sleeping over in the fire station last night due to the weather and wanting to be sure they could get out and make runs if necessary."

When the township department was created, it served about 40,000 residents, but Fort Wayne has annexed much of the area.

The department now serves about 5,500 in the unincorporated areas.