After a three-month search, Madison Township has a new fire chief.
Madison Township trustees hired Derek Robinson on Sept. 10 as the department leader who oversees more than 50 employees, three fire stations and a budget of more than $13 million.
Robinson, who will be paid $125,000 annually, is the deputy chief of operations for Westerville Division of Fire. The total benefits package was not made available by the township.
"This opportunity means a great deal to me and one I will not take it for granted," said Robinson, who is expected to begin his duties Oct. 7. "My goal is to help lead this organization to provide the best service to our residents while also maintaining the safety and well-being of our personnel."
Robinson, who will be 46 on Saturday, Sept. 21, replaces interim Chief Jeff Fasone, who joined the department in 1985 as a part-time firefighter and paramedic. He was sworn in as chief in June 2018 and resigned in May, saying the job wasn't "a good fit," before completing his one-year probation.
Trustees have agreed to create a position within the department for Fasone, who was one of two recent chiefs to come from within the department.
Fasone replaced battalion Chief Chris Pallos, a veteran of more than 40 years who served as interim chief for less than a month.
Pallos took over for former Chief Robert Bates, who was hired in 2000 and retired in January 2018.
The Ohio Fire Chiefs' Association was paid $12,000 to assist the township in a nationwide search, trustees chairman John Pritchard said.
Eleven candidates applied for the job, and four were interviewed by trustees.
"The chiefs' association has an assessment center, where candidates had to go in front of a board of former fire chiefs and current firefighters to discuss how they would work in situations," Pritchard said.
The chiefs' association also sought input from members of Madison Township Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2507.
"Speaking with firefighters at the Westerville Fire Department and throughout the central Ohio area, he is highly respected and has an impeccable reputation of common sense leadership.," union President Lt. Rashid Taylor said.
"We are optimistic that the trustees will allow him to manage and provide functional leadership that is based on his priorities."
Robinson began his career as a part-time firefighter in Westerville in 1994.
Three years later, he accepted a full-time position with Marysville Division of Fire but in 1999 returned to Westerville, where he also served as a lieutenant from 2005-2014.
He initially wanted to serve his country and pursue a career in drug enforcement.
"Upon denial at my final physical due to surgery on both my legs as a child, I refocused my future and service to community as opposed to country," he said. "Having two good friends in high school that were pursuing firefighter careers, I joined them in the desire obtain a career in public safety."
Pritchard said he was impressed most by Robinson's "emotional intelligence."
"I do believe he's also technically proficient, but when you've got a leader of a large organization that person has to have a high level of emotional intelligence and understand how he can get the most out of the people in his system," he said.