By Amanda Amsel
A staple of the Franklin Township community is hanging up his hat and bidding the township farewell after serving residents for more than 30 years.
Franklin Township Fire Chief Rick Howard announced he will be retiring this year.
“As of right now, I haven’t set an exact date, but it will probably be the first of July,” he said. “There are logistics that have to be figured out first, including who my successor will be.”
Howard has worked with the department since 1979, starting out as a volunteer. He has worked almost every position in the department, including being a firefighter, paramedic and lieutenant. In 2004, Howard became the fire chief and has held that position for almost 11 years.
Howard said he wants residents to know he is not giving up on the fire department, despite the financial issues that have plagued the department in recent years.
“I hate the idea of people thinking I am bailing,” he said. “I’m just tired and I can’t do this anymore. I hope that the new person that leads this department will have a fresh new approach that will help this department.”
Township leaders expressed their gratitude for the years of service Howard has given to Franklin Township.
“The township is losing a vital part of our community,” said Jim Stevens. “I know there has been talk by some people in this township that Chief Howard was not on top of the budget for the fire department, but that could not be further from the truth. Honestly, I believe there is no one else in this township that knows their department’s numbers like him. Losing him is a great loss to this township.”
Howard would not speak about who will be replacing him, stating that he would like to discuss it with the trustees before announcing anything to the public.
“I can tell you there are some very well qualified people that are willing to step up to the plate and run this department,” said Howard.
As for what he will do once he is retired, he said he plans to spend time with his family, catch up on some rest and relaxation and go camping.
“I will miss being around the guys the most,” Howard said. “There is a sense of camaraderie with these guys; they are my family.”