Madison Township has a new interim fire chief, its second in a month, after the battalion chief initially tapped to fill the role decided the job wasn't for him.
Battalion Chief Jeff Fasone, a veteran of more than 30 years with the department, was expected to be sworn in Feb. 13 during the trustees' monthly meeting. He replaces Battalion Chief Chris Pallos, who has been with the township's 50-member fire department for 40 years.
Pallos had served as interim chief since former chief Robert Bates retired Jan. 13.
"There were more questions from trustees than I could answer," Pallos said. "I did everything but handle the fire department.
"It wasn't the job for me. It's too political," he said. "I was stuck in the office, and I told the trustees up front that I was going to be a dirty-hands chief."
Pallos will remain with the department as a battalion chief. Fasone will continue to be paid his hourly rate of $48.41 under terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the township and the fire department, according to township Administrator Susan Brobst.
Bates, who was hired in 2000, was paid $96,118 annually.
Trustees hope Fasone can earn the chief's job permanently. Currently, there are no plans to open a search process.
"Fasone has been looking forward to this," trustee Chairman John Kershner said. "He's very qualified and interviewed very well, and we think we've got a good fit."
In appointing Pallos, trustees decided to name the most-senior of the department's three battalion chiefs, Trustee John Pritchard said.
With Pallos' departure, Pritchard said he told Fasone it's his job to win or lose.
"I'm hoping he steps up like he wants to," Pritchard said. "He's got an opportunity here, and this may go from interim chief to full-time chief. It just depends on how things go. So this is kind of his opportunity to shine."
One of the department's top priorities is completing construction of Station 183 at 3232 Noe Bixby Road. It could open in March or April.
The 11,000-square-foot station, the township's third fire station, is large enough to accommodate a medic and an engine truck.
Throughout the planning process, Kershner remained concerned about the size and expense of the facility. He repeatedly cited the township's five-year plan, which calls for a fire substation.
He was the lone trustee to vote against a $3.5-million design-build agreement with Turner Construction Co. last August; Ed Dildine and then-trustee Victor Paini voted for the agreement.
"The trustees and the chief are going to be helping mold a strategic plan for the future," Kershner said last week.
Township voters approved a 5.25-mill operating levy in May 2015 to help pay for a third firehouse and get a third medic in service. The township is borrowing about $2.5 million to pay for the station.
An old apartment building was torn down to make way for the station. The township obtained the land on Noe-Bixby Road at no cost through the Franklin County Land Bank, a program that can provide opportunities for properties that are blighted, tax-delinquent of vacant. It is funded from penalties and interest paid by delinquent taxpayers.