The Mayor of Bellefontaine and Gibson of the Indian Joint Fire District on Ohio Task Force on Volunteer Fire Service

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine yesterday announced the formation of the Ohio Volunteer Fire Service Task Force to study and make recommendations to improve the volunteer fire service in Ohio. At the Central Ohio Fire Museum announcement, Governor DeWine was joined by Ohio Department of Commerce Director Sherry Maxfield, State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon and several local elected officials and firefighters.

“You never know when you might need emergency services, but you want to make sure that when you need them, they’re quick and efficient,” Governor DeWine said at the event. “I have asked Fire Marshal Reardon to convene the Ohio Volunteer Fire Department Task Force to review these issues and the state of fire departments throughout Ohio and provide recommendations so that we can ensure the continuation of reliable emergency coverage for our communities.”

Data collected by the Division of State Fire Marshal shows that more than half of Ohio’s registered fire departments are staffed by volunteers. Although there has been a 6.5% decrease in the number of volunteers in the state since 2018, there has been a continued increase in the number of emergency calls.

“As a career firefighter, I know the fire service is deeply rooted in tradition, but today’s challenges can only be met through innovative, forward-thinking solutions. There are no major areas of concern, for the Volunteer Fire Department there are many – and together they create challenges never seen before,” said State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon. . “It’s not just an Ohio problem, it’s a national problem, but Ohio can and will serve as an example.”

Potential issues that the Ohio Volunteer Firefighter Task Force will examine include:
* Recruitment of volunteers
* Financial stability of volunteer firefighters
* Training issues
* Resource assessment, and
* Long-term stability of the structure of volunteer firefighters

Chaired by State Fire Marshal Reardon, task force members include:
Ohio State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon
William (BJ) Jetter, City Manager, Deer Park
Mayor Ben Stahler, City of Bellefontaine
Mark Stahl, Ottawa County Commissioner
Dean Fadel, President, Ohio Insurance Institute
Chief Kyle Miller, Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department
Chief Dorothy Battles, OFE, Thompson Fire Department
Chief Ed Koziol, Rome Fire Department
Chris Rotondo, Administrator, Brown Township (Carroll County)
Ron Miller, Administrator, Holmes Township (Crawford County)
Tom Bentley, Secretary/Treasurer, Ohio Society of Fire Service Instructors (OSFSI)
Charlie Dixon, Vice President, OSFSI
John Desmarteau, Northeast Ohio Fire Prevention Association (NEOFPA)
Jim Davis, NEOFPA
Chief Scott Skeldon, Ohio State Firefighters Association (Jefferson Twp.), Madison County EMA
Zach Wolfe, Holmes Township. Volunteer Fire Department (Crawford County)
Jason Pollitt, Williamsburg Township. (County of Clermont)
Mark Gibson, Indian Joint Fire District (Logan County)
Justin Whitehead, Township of Pleasant. Fire Department (Clark County)
Arron Lemaster, Township of Scioto. Fire Department (Jackson County)
Chief John Finley, Malta & McConnelsville Volunteer Fire Department, Chairman of the Ohio State Fire Council
Chief Jack Smith, Ohio Fire Academy
Aaron Jennings, Deputy EMS Director, Ohio Department of Public Safety
Matt Jaksetic, EMA Planner, Ohio Department of Public Safety

At the event, Governor DeWine held a moment of silence in remembrance of Fire Lt. Philip M. Wigal of the Town & Country Fire District in West Salem, who was tragically struck and killed Monday afternoon while working at the scene of an accident on I-71 in Wayne County.

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