New Norwich Township Fire Chief Jeff Warren said he does not underestimate the challenge of maintaining and enhancing the standards set by the three previous chiefs under whom he served.
"I'm following a lineage of chiefs who knew about respect to the community they serve and I want to expand on that respect and service to the community," Warren said.
The 41-year-old officially began his tenure as chief at 8 a.m. March 10 and is among the youngest fire chiefs in the region.
"I welcome obstacles and the opportunities to solve them," said Warren, adding he absorbed as much as possible from Bob Kaufman, his immediate predecessor, as well as chiefs David Long and Keith McDowell, who hired him in July 1996.
Warren was promoted to lieutenant in 2003, captain in 2009, battalion chief in 2012 and assistant fire chief in June 2013.
As chief, Warren said, he has several immediate goals and plans.
Two initiatives he wants to implement soon are a bicycle patrol and a tactical EMS unit.
The bicycle patrol will operate in a similar manner as the Hilliard Division of Police units. The Hilliard officers helped train the Norwich bike team, Warren said.
"The bike patrol will be used during the Franklin County Fair, the city's Fourth of July parade and fireworks show," Warren said, as well as other large public events.
He also envisions outreach programs for the bicycle patrol.
Via social media, Warren said, the department might announce the bike patrol will visit a subdivision on a specific afternoon.
"We would ride around and encourage residents to stop us for any questions or concerns," he said, adding that bike-riding medics could perform such public services as testing smoke or radon detectors or checking a person's blood pressure.
The tactical EMS unit would function like a police SWAT team, Warren said.
The team's medics would respond with police officers in high-risk encounters, such as serving search and arrest warrants, Warren said.
"Our goal is to have two on duty at all times," Warren said.
Though not common, Hilliard police sometimes have required such specially equipped medics and relied on units from Columbus, Warren said.
Connecting with the community also is a priority.
Social media is a great tool, Warren said, and he plans to use Twitter to promote the fire department's activities and communicate with residents.
Warren graduated from Grove City High School in 1990 and began his career in 1991 as a part-time firefighter for Plain City and Pleasant Township.
"I always wanted to be a firefighter," Warren said. "Fire trucks mesmerized me."
He remembers the day in August 1991 he went to see Plain City Fire Chief David Hay.
"(Hay) told me to go wait by a truck in the bay. Two hours later, he came looking for me and said, 'You're still here. That's important to me,' and offered me a (part-time) job," said Warren, who had only finished his EMS training.
Plain City sponsored him to complete fire school and in 1994, Pleasant Township Chief Harry Jann gave Warren his first full-time job.
Two years later, Norwich Township recruited him.
"I knew it was the right place for me," said Warren, who had met Norwich Township personnel during mutual-aid responses.
Warren and his wife, Dannette, whom he met in high school, live in Grove City. They have three daughters: Emily, Megan and Kara, ages 20, 19 and 16, respectively.