By MORGAN MANNS
More than 20 individuals from across the globe applied for Fostoria’s vacant fire chief position.
Mayor Eric Keckler said he’s overwhelmingly and pleasantly surprised with the response for the open spot.
“It always makes you feel good that people have enough faith in the community that they’d want to come and work here for us,” he said. “It was a bit of a surprise, but a happy surprise.”
The chief position at Fostoria Fire Division was vacated by Keith Loreno May 6 when he accepted the position as police chief for Fostoria’s police department.
Fostoria Fire Capt. Warren Digby, who has been with FFD since January 1995, was named interim fire chief May 10. Digby is in charge of all operations at the fire station until a new chief is selected. He did not submit his application for the position.
Applications for the position were due by June 20, a few weeks after the job position was advertised in local news outlets and online.
One Fostoria firefighter threw his hat into the ring for the job. Michael Stahl, who has been with the division for over 20 years, said he applied to be chief to be a bigger part of the team.
A Bradner/Pemberville native, Stahl attended Lakota Local Schools. He said Fostoria was “bigger and better than Bowling Green” at that time and he hopes to get things turned around for the division and the city if he is hired for the job.
“I thought that maybe it was time to step up and try to make a difference,” he said. “To not just be a team leader (at the division) but to be a part of the team with everyone in the city. They’re working to get more job opportunities in the city and getting more jobs here protects (firefighter) jobs.
He said Fostoria was like a second home to him growing up. After being a resident of Fostoria for 22 years, he said he hopes to move the division ahead.
Before he came to Fostoria, he worked at Pemberville Freedom Fire Department as a captain from 1980-1985 and as assistant fire chief from 1985-1992.
Keckler said if someone from within the division is hired as chief, the city will then search for someone to fill the vacant fire personnel position.
Other Ohio applicants include Christopher Hafley of Tiffin; Richard Bosak II of North Baltimore; Matthew Wells of Galion; Daryl McGinnis of Mason; Gary Warren of Windsor; Ronald Luttrell of Lima; Mark Brown of Zanesville; Anthony Schaffer of Bellevue; and David Rosenberger of Delaware.
Out-of-state applicants include Robert Wirtz Jr. of Illinois; Chad Jendrzejak of Michigan; Michael Morton of North Carolina; Michael Simmons of Illinois; Robert Kiser of Wisconsin; Donald Slayman III of Florida; Kenneth Chapman of Michigan; James Payne of Maryland; John Shearman of Nevada; Joseph D’Intino of Maryland; Jeremy McClain of Kentucky; John Ring of Illinois; Keith Mitchell of North Carolina; Shayne Burr of West Virginia; Kile Stewart of Colorado; and Ronald Tanner of Herrenberg, Germany.
Work experience within the 26 total applicants has ranged from firefighter/EMT to fire chief to instructors in areas across the country and even the world such as Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan and more. At least five applicants have worked with or been enlisted in United States military forces.
“There’s certainly a wide variety of applicants,” Keckler said. “It’ll be nice to hear what the other members of the committee have to say. It’ll be an interesting process with so many different candidates.”
Keckler said a requirement of the new chief will be to move closer to Fostoria; however, he was unsure of the exact mileage for the chief position.
According to the official position description, the successful candidate must have a minimum of five years of firefighting service at the lieutenant rank or above, or an equivalent combination of education, training and life experience.
In addition, he or she must possess an Ohio Fire Safety Inspection Certificate; an Ohio Firefighter’s Certificate per the Ohio Revised Code; and a valid Ohio driver’s license with an acceptable driving record.
Responsibilities for the fire chief include commanding and managing Fostoria Fire Division to “ensure the highest level of protection and safety” to citizens and department members from fire and other emergencies, as well as performing firefighting duties, as necessary, the job description states.
The fire chief, who reports to Safety Service Director Allyson Murray, is the direct supervisor of captains, lieutenants, firefighters and EMS personnel. Fostoria Fire Division has three captains: Jim Walters, Scott Basinger and Digby; three lieutenants, Brian Herbert, Jason Root and Jerry Goodman; and 12 firefighters with either EMT or medic training, Stahl, Randy Rubel, Harry Miller, David Cook, Cory Gregg, Mark Cassidy, Kyle Blausey, Jason Distel, Greg Keiser, Robert Payne, Fred Reinhart and Joe Gill.
Loreno’s successor will be chosen by a selection committee, consisting of Keckler, Murray, council member Greg Flores, Steve Moes with Fostoria Civil Service Commission, local attorney Barbara Dibble, community member Dr. John Ross, and former fire chief Russel Rife. They will overview all applicants’ resumes and qualifications in an effort to select the best candidate for the position.
No meeting date has yet been scheduled. According to Keckler, they are having a difficult time choosing a specific date because of the holiday and family vacations the members have planned.
With the large amount of applicants, Keckler said it may take more than one meeting or round to narrow the list down.
“We can go into the process and talk to as many people as we like, either over a phone interview or a face-to-face interview,” he said. “We’ll narrow it down to as many good candidates that are viable and keep working our way down. We want to make sure we get the right person. If that takes a little time, then that’s what we’ll do.”