St. Clairsville officials are mourning the loss of Cumberland Trail Fire Chief Ken Saffell, who was found dead Tuesday at his home on Greenbriar Drive.
Saffell, 51, had been a firefighter for more than 20 years, and chief for the past two. St. Clairsville Councilman Frank Sabatino said city leaders were "very much in shock" to learn of his death.
"Kenny was well-known and respected at the local level, the county level and the state level," said St. Clairsville Councilman Frank Sabatino, who also sits on the fire district board. "When it came to firefighting, he was at the helm. He was there and he was always there. ...
"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."
Future decisions on restructuring will be up to the fire district board, but for the time being, Assistant Chief Mark Sommers is in charge of the department. Sommers 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.
Mayor Robert Vincenzo said the city is "deeply saddened" by Saffell's loss.
"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 said, adding that his prayers go out to the Saffell family.
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.
Visitation for Saffell is scheduled from 4-8 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 and 6-9 p.m. Sunday at Toothman Funeral Home in St. Clairsville. A funeral service is planned for 1 p.m. Monday, also at the funeral home.
Following the funeral, Vincenzo said, the city recreation center will be available to the fire district for a luncheon.