Al Woo is looking forward to May 9.

Al Woo is looking forward to May 9.

After 14 years with the Washington Township Fire Department, Woo will retire and pass the fire chief's helmet to Alec O'Connell.

After years of leading the department, Woo said he is looking forward to see where it goes in his absence.

"Department heads create opportunities for those that work with us," he said.

"There comes a time when that opportunity means you have to step aside ... It's exciting for me to see how well they'll do."

Woo came to Washington Township in late 2000 when then fire chief Gene Bostic was looking at retirement.

"I was assistant chief to Gene Bostic," Woo said. "The idea was a succession plan."

After working with Woo in the fire department and then as a Washington Township trustee, Bostic said he is happy with the hire.

"(Woo) was a great asset for the time he was here," Bostic said.

"He made a big difference in the fire department and brought a lot of good ideas and was able to implement those in the system," he said.

"I was happy to have him as an assistant chief and now, as a trustee, working with him has been a pleasure."

Dublin Mayor Michael Keenan, a Washington Township trustee when Woo was hired, said the fire chief brought a fast response time to the growing community.

"In my view we have the best fire and emergency medical service," Keenan said.

"There's a five-minute response time. It's pretty amazing," he said.

"Those are the golden minutes if you have a stroke or heart attack.

"It's the difference between a bad and good outcome."

Under Woo's leadership, training improved at the Washington Township Fire Department, Keenan said.

A training center was built, training was increased and educational partnerships, including one with Bowling Green University, were offered.

"There are programs to try to prepare people for promotions and be able to move up in the ranks," Bostic said.

"Assistant Chief O'Connell will be sworn in within the three or four weeks as Chief Woo's replacement," he said.

"(Woo) played a big part in being a mentor not only for Alec O'Connell, but other officers moving up into the ranks."

Woo's proudest moments with the Washington Township Fire Department include twice receiving accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, adding educational opportunities for employees and maintaining a strong focus on the community.

"We've always had a focus on the community and I think we're even more focused now on the community as far as all the programs put in place with training," Woo said.

"We have the safety tech position devoted strictly to the public with car seat fittings and CPR training," he said.

"It focuses on and supports the public."

Woo, however, will not take sole credit for all the good that's gone on at the Washington Township Fire Department under his leadership.

"I dropped an idea here and there," he said. "It was everybody else: the support from the community, administration (and) staff themselves."

Upon retirement Woo said he isn't planning to disappear.

He plans to stay in the area for at least a few years and keep his membership with Dublin AM Rotary.

"I'll take some time off," Woo said.

"I have some home projects to do," he said.

"We'll go to Hawaii for a few weeks. ... I want to kick back and refocus on where we want to go and what we want to do."

Leisure, however, will not be Woo's only focus in retirement.

"This is exciting," he said. "I'm looking forward to it.

"I know I'll find something to do."