By Amanda Amsel
As Franklin Township Fire Chief Rick Howard plans his upcoming retirement, the township is taking steps to prepare for his replacement.
At a recent meeting, the board unanimously approved temporarily promoting Franklin Township Captain Jim Welch to interim fire chief.
“Jim has been with the Franklin Township Fire Department for 18 years and has moved up the ranks,” Howard said. “He has showed initiative and has an eagerness to learn, both of which are great leadership qualities.”
A Columbus resident, Welch has been employed by the Franklin Township Fire Department since 1997. He started out as a firefighter and paramedic and was promoted to a lieutenant in 2011 and a captain in 2014. Besides being a firefighter, Welch also is an EMS/fire instructor and is responsible for coordinating the department’s continued education program.
Howard said he thought long and hard about who his temporary predecessor should be. Some of the factors that make Welch stand out includes his experience serving the township, his close proximately to Franklin Township should an emergency situation occur and his overall interest in learning about the wide variety of positions within the department.
According to Howard, Welch will be taking on additional responsibilities without any pay increase. If the board decides to make Welch the permanent chief, then finances would be discussed.
“In the end, it is up to the trustees to decide if they want to make him (Welch) the permanent chief or hire a different candidate in house or outside the department,” Howard said. “I would say that an outside person would be at a disadvantage because of the staffing issues and the financial situation we are facing. Someone from outside the department may have difficulties understanding everything we are facing.”
Howard said he hopes the trustees will decide if they will be promoting someone internally or hiring an outside person before he retires in early July.