The Central Townships Joint Fire District has new leaders in place to oversee day-to-day operations.
Brian Bennington of Clark County is the new full-time chief. John Hopkins of London is the new part-time assistant chief. Both are splitting their time between the district’s two stations in Newport and Lafayette. Both started April 1.
The duo’s first task is to orchestrate the fire district’s shift from an all-volunteer system to a combination department in which paid part-time fire fighters will cover the shifts the volunteers can’t—6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
As a team, Bennington and Hopkins are a good fit for the job, said Rob Turvy, vice president of the fire district board. Bennington is versed in administrative duties and Hopkins has a rapport with fire fighters that will make training a snap, he said.
From the 25 applications they received, the board chose eight applicants for first interviews, then narrowed the field to three. Bennington rose to the top of the list in his last interview, Turvy said.
“Brian lives fairly close and has experience as chief of a small department. He also has a substantial amount of teaching experience,” he said.
“We also were looking for someone that would be into today’s technologies…He was better suited toward computerization.”
Bennington got his start as a fire fighter 18 years ago in Pleasant Township, Clark County, where he lives with his wife, Emily, and three children, and most recently served for three years as fire chief.
He is a state certified inspector and in-structor, Level II fire fighter and an EMT intermediate. For the last five years, he has taught fire certification courses at St. Clare Community College in Dayton and Clark State Community College in Springfield.
“The Central Township opening was a chance to move on to a bigger department with a larger response area,” Bennington said.
The response area for the Central Townships Joint Fire District is 159 square miles, triple that of Pleasant Township in Clark County.
Bennington also saw the job as “a chance to make changes to move a department forward.”
“The biggest thing I bring is structured stability and leadership skills to take the district in the direction of a professional combination department,” he said.
The district board hired Hopkins as assistant chief for several reasons, including his familiarity with the district and his ties to the broader fire department community.
Hopkins, whose father and uncle were fire fighters, took up the profession 33 years ago. He spent the first six years with the London Fire Department, after which he settled in with the Central Townships Fire Department for 25 years, moving from lieutenant to captain and serving as safety officer.
For 28 years, he traveled around the country delivering fire trucks for Sutphen, a fire apparatus manufacturing company headquartered in northwest Columbus.
Hopkins now wears three different hats. In addition to serving as assistant chief for Central Townships, he has a full-time job with the Ohio Fire Academy in Reynoldsburg and fights fires part-time for London.
“John will help with the transition… he’s a very good hands-on person to help with the department,” Turvy said.
Hopkins said he looks forward to working with Bennington, whom he has known for 18 years.
“With his skills and my skills, we should do pretty good,” he said.
The Central Townships Joint Fire District provides fire protection for Deercreek, Monroe, Oak Run, Paint and Union townships in Madison County. Voters in the district approved a tax levy in November that provides the funds necessary to address the district’s staffing problems.
Butch Miller is the district board president.