ST. CLAIRSVILLE The city is mourning the loss of Cumberland Trail Fire Chief Ken Saffell, who was found dead at his St. Clairsville home on Greenbriar Drive Tuesday.
He had been a firefighter with more than 20 years of service. He had taken the position as chief of the fire district two years ago.
"Kenny was well-known and respected at the local level, the county level and the state level," said St. Clairsville Council Member Frank Sabatino, who represents the city on the fire district. He noted Saffell's involvement in the community. "When it came to firefighting, he was at the helm. He was there and he was always there.
"We at the board worked very well with Kenny. We were always informed of his many activities and duties. The board was always very proud of Chief Saffell," he said, adding that the entire board and fiscal officer joined the firefighters at the station on hearing the news.
"It was a difficult time. All of us were very much in shock," he said, adding that the future of the fire district will call for the board and firefighters to continue their accustomed cooperation and move forward, performing their duties as Saffell would want.
"Assistant Chief (Mark) Sommers, the great staff of lieutenants, and a proficient group of firefighters, paramedics, and department members, with heavy hearts are performing their duties," he said. "The days ahead are very difficult, but we will get through them together."
He added that the Saffell family has their full support.
"Whatever we can do for the family, the board and the entire fire department, we will do," he said.
"We the fire board, the family, the city and the fire district have lost a great person, not only as a great individual, but a fire chief as well."
"The city is deeply saddened at his loss," said Mayor Robert Vincenzo. "He has been a great fire chief and has had complete dedication. He'd surrounded himself with a life of dedication to firefighting and serving the community."
He added that prayers go out to the Saffell family for their loss.
Vincenzo added that after the Monday funeral, the rec center will be available to the fire district for a luncheon.
Among Saffell's recent activities was a talk in October to Belmont County Safety Council members on the subject of protecting their businesses in the event of a fire emergency.
Jennifer Woollard, executive director of the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce, said his outreach to the community was always welcome.
Sommers has assumed command. He said the fire district will continue its services with accustomed diligence while mourning a fellow firefighter
"He will be greatly missed and impossible to replace," he said.
Future structuring of the fire district will be decided by the fire board.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org