Search begins for fire chief

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By BRIAN BOHNERT
SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Mayor Eric Keckler announced Tuesday his administration is preparing to narrow the field of candidates vying for the open fire chief job.
Fostoria City Councilman Greg Flores was appointed to the city’s selection committee Tuesday night. The committee will be tasked with interviewing the top three candidates and choosing which will be the next chief of Fostoria Fire Division.
Flores previously served on the committee three years ago when Ken Chapman was chosen as the department’s 11th fire chief. Chapman resigned in June of last year to accept a job as chief of the Highland Township Fire Department in his home state of Michigan.
Among the candidates who submitted an application for the job is current Interim Fire Chief Brian Herbert. He was named interim fire chief in late June after longtime Fostoria firefighter Scott Basinger stepped down from the role to retire.
With just 153 days left until he, too, is eligible to retire, Herbert said he’s decided to forgo retirement and do everything he can to make a positive impact on the department.
“I want to turn this department around,” Herbert said. “I want it to be the way it was when Russ Rife was here. He was my mentor and I’ve taken a lot of steps as interim chief to make sure we get back to that already.”
Since stepping into the chief’s role a little more than two months ago, Herbert said he has already begun implementing changes such as bringing “a little more discipline back to the department.”
“I’ve seen what the fire department can be. I didn’t like where it was at,” he said. “I like to think I can make a difference and I have the backing of all the guys.”
Ten men have previously served as Fostoria’s fire chief since its inception. R.B. Linhart, the first fire chief since the formation of a paid department in 1891, served for 39 years, retiring in 1930.
Since Linhart’s days on the job, Fostoria has been protected by: E.A. Doe (1931-44); T.E. Walash (1944-64); L.E. Gregory (1964-73); B.C. Conine (1973-84); W. Woods (1984-94); David P. DiCesare (1994-96); Russell Rife (1996-08); Keith Loreno (2010-14); and Chapman (2014-16).
Throughout his nearly 24 years with the fire department, Herbert never expressed an interest in pursuing the fire chief’s job until now.
“It’s not something I’ve always wanted to do. I did not desire to be a fire chief,” he said. “Not knocking any of my predecessors, but it’s always good to have somebody who’s been here the whole time. I’ve seen what this city can do and I’ve seen what it’s been through in the last 24 years.”
The mayor said there are a number of candidates pursuing the chief position, but he was unable to provide an exact number Tuesday.
The Review Times will meet with him today to obtain more information about the other hopefuls.

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