New fire chief for Madison Township

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Madison Township has a new fire chief after a three month search.

On Sept. 10, the Madison Township trustees hired Derek Robinson as the new Madison Township fire chief. He will begin work in the township on Oct. 7. Robinson currently is the deputy chief of operations with the Westerville Division of Fire.

He replaces current interim and former chief Jeff Fasone, who will hold the title of Fire Prevention Specialist once Robinson, who has 25 years’ experience in EMS and fire service, is on duty.

“I look forward to working with the Madison Township trustees, township administration, and the men and women of the fire division to proudly and professionally serve the citizens,” said Robinson.

According to Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst, the trustees worked with the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association on the search process since April 2019 after Fasone indicated he wanted to step down as chief. She said there is a specific process used by the association to assist entities in the selection of various management-level positions. Eleven people applied for the position. Select candidates participated in an assessment center before the list was whittled down to two individuals.

The pair of candidates was interviewed by the trustees, along with the fiscal officer, Brobst and a representative from Canal Winchester and Groveport.

“Mr. Robinson has a strong background similar to Madison Township, including three fire stations, staffing levels, and response to service call numbers,” said Brobst. “His outgoing personality, forward-thinking ideas, and direct approach to issues made him stand out amongst the candidates.

Other Madison Township news
•Trustees will hold a pair of public hearings to discuss the possibility of assessing a $5 permissive motor vehicle license tax during the Oct. 8 meeting and again on Oct. 16. The tax would be collected when a new car license is purchased or an old one renewed.

Permissive tax revenue, according to the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles, can only be used for planning, construction, improving, maintaining and repairing public roads, highways, streets and for the maintenance and repair of bridges and viaducts.

•Fasone said the fire department received a $6,175 grant from the Shriner’s organization to help purchase five new mask-mounted, heads-up thermal imaging cameras. Each camera costs approximately $1,236.

“We bought 10-12 cameras last year and this will put us two-thirds of the way to having everyone have their own mask cameras,” said Fasone. “The cameras can see through smoke for heat signals. Before the thermal imaging cameras, you had to do blind searches and go into situations where you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. With thermal imaging, the cameras can find a source, like a person, a lot quicker.”

•Trebel LLC Administrator Scott Belcastro said natural gas prices have dropped to a point where he advised the trustees to consider setting the contract price at the current rate instead of continuing with a variable rate.

“We take all of the risk off the table,” Belcastro said.

According to Belcastro, the current rate is 37.49 cents per CCF. However, he reported the rate escalated to 47 cents in December 2018 for just natural gas and raised a penny more in January.

“The weather has been far more volatile than years past,” said Belcastro. “It’s getting harder to project (future costs). The contract is for 24 months and we’ll still keep an eye on things.”

If the trustees choose to set the rate, Trebel will still send out letters to consumers notifying them of the change, which includes an opt-out letter. As part of the original contract, residents are always free to opt-out of the aggregation program at no cost and at any time.

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