Dublin Villager

Washington Twp. Fire Department

New chief O'Connell has been preparing for 25 years

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A longtime firefighter will take over for Washington Township Fire Chief Al Woo when he retires May 9.

The Washington Township trustees found a replacement for Woo in their own firehouse. Assistant Chief Alec O'Connell will drop assistant from his title in May.

"When I first came in here we made it a goal to develop internal talent so when it was time for me to go someone (here) could compete instead of trustees going outside," Woo said.

"We think we've done that."

O'Connell started as a part-time firefighter with the Washington Township Fire Department 25 years ago.

After becoming a full-time firefighter, O'Connell worked his way up through the department.

"I've seen every aspect of it," O'Connell said of the fire department. "I've seen the place grow so much."

"He's gotten executive level training (and) fire officer training," Woo said.

"He's done all that stuff and handles accreditation.

"He's done a number of administrative duties we have assigned to him. He's very organized and very goal oriented," Woo said.

"It fits well with where the trustees want to take the department in the future. He's seen the department from all levels."

O'Connell said he didn't start out seeking the top spot in the fire department, but as he's worked his way up to battalion chief and then assistant chief it's become a goal.

"I got involved with Leadership Dublin and got to know people in the community pretty well," O'Connell said.

"I got to know officials in Dublin and got to work on different projects with the police chief.

"I always want to push myself and look for additional opportunities and responsibilities. Everything just fell into place."

As part of the fire department for 25 years, O'Connell said he feels prepared to step up as chief, but he won't be afraid to ask for help.

"I think anytime you take on a new position you want to make sure you move forward," he said.

"But what you don't know, you don't know. I've surrounded myself with so many chiefs in the area.

"I work with the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association, so I have resources there. I also have support here. I feel like I've built a good network."

As he looks to take over as chief, O'Connell said he hopes to keep the momentum established by Woo and by Chief Gene Bostic before him.

"I truly understand the responsibilities that come along with this," he said.

"It's such a great organization here and it's got great people.

"I want people to know I appreciate what they do here. I want to keep moving forward and making progress ... I want to find cost-effective programs we can give back to the citizens."

An April reception is in the works to welcome O'Connell to his new role.

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