By Linda Dillman
The Madison Township Fire Department will soon have a new fire chief.
Interim Fire Chief Jeff Fasone recently told the Madison Township trustees he is stepping down. Fasone tendered his resignation as chief before his one-year probationary period was up in May. After the retirement of former chief Robert Bates, Fasone was appointed interim chief for a few months before becoming chief in 2018.
During the hunt for a new person to oversee the fire department—coordinated through the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association —Fasone returned to the interim position. He intends to stay with the department until he retires, but said his position will be largely up to the new chief.
“For me, it wasn’t a good fit,” said Fasone, a 32-year veteran of the fire department, who was hired as a part time firefighter in 1987. “I talked it over with my wife and decided to resign from the position as fire chief. A year in that position has given me a great amount of knowledge and I still have a lot of value. The only thing that is changing is my title.”
Before becoming chief, Fasone served as a firefighter for seven years, then was a lieutenant for another seven years before becoming a battalion chief for 17 years.
“It’s been a privilege to be one of the five fire chiefs to have served the township,” said Fasone.
According to Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst, Fasone notified the trustees of his intentions in early spring. On May 7, the fire chief’s association posted the vacancy notice with a June 6 cutoff date.
“The township had the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association come in April 24, 25 and 26 to conduct interviews with members of the department to ask us what we want in a new fire chief,” said local firefighter union 2507 president Lt. Rashid Taylor. “We were advised in late March that Chief Fasone would no longer be the fire chief.”
Taylor said union members appreciated being involved in the process
“Our firefighters do a wonderful job taking care of the residents of Madison Township, no matter how many changes in leadership that we have had,” said Taylor. “We know what is expected of us once we arrive on the scene of an emergency.”
Taylor said the department needs a leader who will support firefighter goals to maintain strong community service, establish a health and safety program and implement a form of succession planning where people inside the organization are trained to take over key leadership roles, including the fire chief position.
“It appears that the fire chief position was written so that no one inside the organization could apply for it, including the current interim chief,” said Taylor. “In most professional organizations, there is a pathway to be able to move up the ranks. This provides an opportunity for individuals who know the history of the community and the departments to be able to one day attain to be the chief. Unfortunately, this has not been a consistent possibility here at Madison Township. We have many talented/educated members with good leadership be afforded that possibility in the future.”
According to the job posting, the chief is a member of the township’s management team and reports directly to the administrator. The current salary is $125,000.
Fasone’s announcement came as the township was in contract negotiations with the firefighter’s union. Brobst said while the two sides could not come up with a three-year contract, they did come up with a one-year agreement with a 2.7 percent wage increase starting in January 2020.
“The board and myself did not feel like we should make a lot of changes at this time,” said Brobst, who added once the OFC association completes their candidate summaries and submits recommendations, interviews will be conducted and a new chief in place possibly as early as the end of August.
Taylor said because of inconsistency in the chief position, the new fire chief will have many paths to navigate.
“Besides having to learn the operations of the department, the community and the leadership nuances of the administration, he or she will have forge relationships with the communities and other fire service organizations with which we interact,” Taylor said. “As in the past, The Madison Township Firefighters Local 2507 will do everything we can to help ensure a smooth transition for the new fire chief. We want him or her to be successful so we can have some continuity and consistency in the position. This is better for the organization overall.”