Lehighton Borough Council met in a special session Monday night to appoint a new fire chief and several fire department officers.
The meeting became necessary because of the untimely death of Lehighton Fire Chief John "Jack" Kuller on April 22. Kuller joined the Lehighton Fire Department in 1979, under Chief Edward Conarty Jr.
Named as the new fire chief was Gary Frable, who had served as assistant chief under Kuller since 2002.
Frable said he never thought of becoming chief under the circumstances of Kuller's untimely death.
Lehighton Fire Department members took the death of their beloved leader very hard. Many men openly wept as they took part in his funeral procession.
Frable said that "Jack was a mover and a shaker" and he vowed that he would work harder than ever to see that Jack's vision of a new fire station becomes a reality.
Frable said that he started as a "grunt" in 1973 and worked his way up the chain of command.
"I moved into the neighborhood and the fire company was right there," said Frable. "It was the thing to do back then."
Frable credits his neighbor Glen Dieter with "pushing him" into the fire department. He said that he made a lot of friends in the department.
"I'll bet every fire chief says this, but I believe my firefighters are the best in the county," said Frable.
Also appointed by council were: Patrick Mriss, assistant chief; Michael Mriss, captain; and Stephen Ebbert, Douglas Nothstein and Rodney Rehnert, lieutenants.
Conarty, who was chief before Kuller, attended the council session.
Mriss, the new assistant fire chief, has big shoes to fill, as he is Conarty's nephew. Mriss' brother, Michael, is a captain; and his father, Paul, is the safety officer.
"I'm following a tradition," remarked Mriss. "I'm looking forward to the new fire station."
Conarty said that when he was chief things were a lot simpler.
"We took guys off the street and had them fight fires," said Conarty. "Now everything is about training. I can't believe how much training they do. I believe all of the firefighters are certified. They give up their evenings and weekends and family time. They are dedicated."