By STACY MILLBERG - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashtabula Township Fire Chief Mike Fitchet will take the helm as the county’s new Emergency Management Agency director and retire as fire chief, Ashtabula County Commissioners announced Tuesday.
More than 20 people applied for the position which became vacant back in May when former EMA Director George Sabo resigned. Commissioner Joe Moroski said, commissioners interviewed a few qualified applicants from the county and believes they made a good choice in hiring Fitchet.
“Mike has 35 years of emergency management experience,” he said. “We are looking forward to Mike taking over.”
Moroski said Fitchet has already met with his new staff and is working on some early planning initiatives.
Fitchet began his career with ATFD in April 1974. He moved through the ranks and was promoted to chief on July 2, 1980. He is a state certified emergency medical technician (EMT), firefighter and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) technician. During his tenure as fire chief, Fitchet has represented Ashtabula Township on several county committees including the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the 911 Review Board and the EMS Advisory Board, according to ATFD’s website.
Fitchet has completed course work in Fire Service Technology and Management at Kent State University and Lakeland Community College. He is an active member of the Ashtabula County Fire Chief’s Association, Northeast Ohio Fire Chief’s Association, the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, according to the website.
Fichet said he is excited about the opportunity to switch gears, but stay in the emergency services.
“A lot of people that I deal with today, I will still be dealing with but now as more a supportive role rather than as a first responder,” he said.
Fitchet said he believes his experience as a first responder will be a great asset to him in his new position.
After 39 years of service with ATFD, Fitchet said he is not sad to be leaving but grateful.
“How can you be sad after 39 years,” he asked. “It has been a privilege to be able to work with the people of the township, but it is time for them to see some new blood and new ideas.”
Fitchet will be spending the next month tying up loose ends at the fire department and helping township trustees make the transition to a new chief. He will start his new position at the end of July, he said.
“I think he will bring a wealth of experience with him,” said Commissioner Peggy Carlo.
As the EMA director, Fitchet will be responsible for planning and coordinating the county’s emergency services to ensure the county is prepared to meet any disaster. He will also be responsible for the development and direction of the county’s Emegency 911 operations.
Commissioner Dan Claypool said Ashtabula County will be lucky to have someone like Fitchet at the helm.
“We’re really happy we were able to select someone like Mike,” he said.
Fitchet said he is looking forward to getting started.