Salem Lakes Fire/Rescue chief references recent difficult circumstances in resignation letter

James Lejcar (from a video by Earlene Frederick-Ember Images

Former Salem Lakes Fire/Rescue Chief James Lejcar referred to the difficult circumstances of late in his resignation letter.

Lejcar resigned his position as chief as of 5 p.m., Monday via a letter addressed to the Salem Lakes Fire Commission members, the Village Board and members of the department.

“While the circumstances leading up to this decision have been difficult, they do not undermine the thirty-five years of service to the communities of Salem Lakes, Paddock Lake, Brighton as well as our mutual aid partners,” Lejcar said in the letter.

Lejcar and fire Marshall/Inspector Steve Ptaszynski had come under scrutiny earlier this year when two local businesses — Wilmot Stage Stop and Auto Truck Equipment — filed formal complaints about inspections they alleged were unreasonable and not in compliance with fire code and that constituted harassment of their businesses.

The complaints were scheduled to go through a formal hearing process before the Fire Commission in October, but those hearings were cancelled after a stipulation agreement designed to resolve the situation was drafted. The Fire Commission voted to approve the agreement, and an attorney for the businesses said they were on board but all parties did not sign off.

Ptaszynski and Lejcar’s resignations were announced by Fire Commission President Allen Thennes during citizens comments at Monday’s Village Board meeting.

Lejcar had been chief since August 2021. Before that, he had been assistant chief since 2019. Lejcar succeeded David Slover, who retired in 2021 after 19 years as chief of the Town of Salem Fire Department and its successors.

Lejcar wrote of his pride in his long service with the department and in his tenure as chief in his letter.

“I am honored to have served in this capacity and I am extremely proud of where this department is at,” Lejcar wrote. “It has been an honor to have worked with so many professionals both at the Village Hall and out in the community.”

The letter did not give any information on Lejcar’s future plans.

The fire commission, which is responsible for hiring the chief, is scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Village Hall to discuss naming an interim chief and initiating the process to find a permanent replacement. Consideration of hiring an interim fire inspection service also is on the agenda.

At Monday’s meeting, Thennes said the commission will be looking for a replacement “outside the scope of the area.”


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