It has been more than two years since popular Violet Township Assistant Fire Chief Doug Barr died unexpectedly, leaving a void in the fire department both physically and emotionally.
Since that time the position of assistant chief has remained vacant -- until now.
March 27, the Violet Township Board of Trustees administered the official oath of office to Barr's successor -- new Assistant Chief Mike Little -- at Station 592, 8700 Pickerington Road.
Violet Township Fire Chief John Eisel said the move will benefit both the department and the community.
"Administratively, the past two years have been a struggle trying to keep up with all of the demands and requirements," Eisel said.
"(This) will increase our administrative capacity," he said, adding Little will now work with him "as a team" and function as "the main liaison between operations and administration."
Eisel said filling the position also improves consistency as well as the oversight of numerous projects and regulatory requirements.
"It will begin succession planning for the fire department in the administrative functions," Eisel said.
Little has been with the Violet Township Fire Department since 1993.
In addition to serving as a firefighter-paramedic, he has served as an emergency medical services coordinator, lieutenant, recent battalion chief and secretary-treasurer of IAFF Local 3558, the firefighters union.
He is a graduate of the Ohio Fire Executive Program.
The promotion of Little from battalion chief created vacancies at the lower rank levels, allowing two other members of the Violet Township Fire Department to also move up the ladder.
Lieutenant Greg Eisenacher was promoted to Little's old position as battalion chief. Eisenacher has been with the department since 1991, and has previously served as president of IAFF Local 3558.
"He is also a certified fire instructor, and currently is enrolled in the Ohio Fire Executive Program," Eisel said.
Firefighter Brett Bowen, a member of the department since 2001, was promoted to Lieutenant.
Bowen started his fire career in 1998 through the Pickerington Local School District's Mentorship Program. He is acting president of the union and is actively involved in several committees within the department.
Eisel said he is pleased with all of the appointments because they draw on the strengths of each firefighter, making the department stronger as a result.
"We are very fortunate to have internal candidates that possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities to fill these positions, and, as you can see, these are excellent choices," Eisel said.
The department and Violet Township community should be proud to have such candidates as Little, Eisenacher and Bowen "fill these leadership positions," Eisel said.
"I am extremely humbled to be part of this family that each and every day does the uncommon -- serves the community with the utmost professionalism, pride and commitment to making a difference in the lives they touch," Eisel said.