PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — North Hampton’s Volunteer Fire Chief John Schwend has now been relieved of his duties.
Schwend currently has a DUI case going through the court system. He’s set to go before a judge on Jan. 29.
The North Hampton Fire Department Board of Directors made the decision Thursday to fire Schwend. He has also been suspended as a member for six months and his driving authorization has been revoked indefinitely.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller has confirmed that the deputy fire chief will step into the role for the time being.
Hampton Township officials confirmed Thursday that Schwend was allegedly driving drunk behind the wheel of his fire-station owned SUV. The fire department purchased the vehicles, but the township covers the liability on the vehicles. For this reason, the township needed to submit a claim to the insurance.
Chief Schwend was arrested by Northern Regional Police officers after he allegedly crashed the SUV into several utility poles, yanking down power lines sometime after 2 a.m. during the week before Christmas. The charges against him were posted on Dec. 23.
The responding officer measured his BAC as more than two times the legal limit at the time of the crash.
Also new today, Hampton Township’s Volunteer Fire Department was set to merge with North Hampton’s Volunteer Fire Department. Officials tell KDKA that the merger is still set to continue, despite the charges against Schwend.
Schwend also serves as the Edgeworth Borough manager (near Sewickley).
Edgeworth Borough Mayor Gary Smith says he plans to keep now-fired North Hampton Fire Chief John Schwend as his borough manager.
He said they, along with the board, decided they still have “full confidence in John.”
He has entered into counseling and had already made arrangements for counseling prior to this incident.
He said the job of borough manager is a full time job.
The North Hampton Fire Department issued a statement, saying:
“The North Hampton Fire Department has relieved John Schwend of his duties as Fire Chief as a result of the incident on December 15, 2019. In addition, he has been suspended as a member for six months and his driving authorization has been suspended indefinitely.”