New chief in Jackson Township


By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Photo courtesy of Jackson Township Rick Dawson (center) was promoted to fire chief at the Jackson Township Division of Fire. Here, Dawson is with the unit three crew.
Photo courtesy of Jackson Township
Rick Dawson (center) was promoted to fire chief at the Jackson Township Division of Fire. Here, Dawson is with the unit three crew.

There is a new chief in town.

Deputy Fire Chief Rick Dawson is now the acting fire chief for the Jackson Township Division of Fire.

Dawson has been with the fire department since 1982 and has been the deputy fire chief since 2006.

Dawson said he was humbled by the position.

“I fully realize the responsibility and the importance of the job,” said Dawson. “Few people are given the unique opportunity to partner and lead such a dedicated and talented group of people who are so committed to serving the public.”

Dawson was named the interim chief after Lloyd Sheets requested a voluntary demotion.
Sheets started working for the township as a volunteer firefighter in 1978. He worked his way up and became chief in 2006.

“I decided to take a voluntary demotion to the rank of battalion chief so I can spend more time with my family,” said Sheets. “I have three daughters in college and a son in high school. This will allow me to spend more time with my wife and kids.”

Mike Lilly, township administrator said the trustees accepted the request for a demotion.

“We are pleased we could accommodate the request and grant him the opportunity to finish his career on a unit and spend more time with his family,” said Lilly.

Sheets said he has been with the department since he was 18 years old and he is not ready yet for retirement.

“I want to finish my career on my terms,” said Sheets. “I have had a good time as chief, accomplished a lot and it is time for me to move on.”

Lilly said the request to move down the ranks did not come as a big surprise as others have done the same in the past.

“Voluntary demotions are not uncommon,” said Lilly. “Our personnel handbook makes provisions for these requests and we have granted them to other officers.”

Lilly said this is the first time a demotion has been granted to a fire chief.

The new positions took effect April 23.

According to Lilly, Sheet’s pay as fire chief was $106,000 a year. His new salary will be $86,000. Dawson’s salary will increase from $98,000 to $106,000 per year.

Trustees and other township officials plan to meet with Dawson in the upcoming weeks to discuss expectations of leading the fire department.

“Rick has more than 30 years of experience plus new ideas to motivate and inspire a new generation of firefighter/paramedics,” said Lilly.

Dawson said it is his goal to deliver services to the community in an effective, efficient and economical manner.

“The needs of this community have evolved and will continue to evolve, so to be successful, the department must evolve, too,” said Dawson. “It will be my job to see that this department is positioned to meet those needs.”

The township’s fire department provides emergency services to nearly 41,000 residents in the Grove City area. The township now has four fire stations and employs more than 100 people.

“The needs of our community are constantly changing,” said Dawson. “It is my job to ensure our employees and the department is ready to meet those needs.”

A promotion ceremony for Dawson will be held May 20 at the Jackson Township board of trustees meeting, located at 3756 Hoover Road.


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