Warrens answer call to serve in emergency-services careers
Missed Little League games and dance recitals.
Garage doors rattling open at 3:30 a.m.
Christmas on Dec. 26.
Such are the lives of first responders, including Norwich Township Fire Department Chief Jeff Warren and his daughters, Megan Warren and Kara Warren, who both have followed him into emergency services.
Megan Warren, 25, is a 911 dispatcher at the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center in Dublin. Kara Warren, 23, is a police officer for the Grove City Division of Police.
Both women say the childhood memories of their home life in Grove City – shared with their eldest sister, Emily, 27 – led them to their careers.
“That scanner was turned on 24-7," Megan Warren said. “That’s when I first heard dispatchers, (and) that’s why I am a dispatcher today.”
Other memories revolve around holidays.
“We never had holidays on holidays,” Megan Warren said.
She recalled one Christmas when the doors into the family dining room were shut with wrapping paper until their father could join the family for Christmas.
“We kept the doors wrapped until dad was home from duty,” she said.
The sound of a garage door opening at any time was not unexpected in the Warren house.
As Norwich fire chief since 2014, Jeff Warren’s daily schedule is a bit more predictable, but it was not when he was rising through the ranks.
Jeff Warren, 48, graduated from Franklin Heights High School in 1990 and began his fire service in 1991 with the Plain City Fire Department. He still lives in Grove City.
He said his calling to the fire service was rooted in the excitement many boys experience while watching fire trucks rush past with lights and sirens.
“I loved seeing the fire trucks in parades, (and) ‘Emergency!’ was my favorite TV show,” Jeff Warren said.
The NBC TV series aired from 1972 to 1977 and focused on firefighters at Station 51 of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the medical staff at the fictional Rampart General Hospital.
Jeff Warren became a Norwich Township firefighter in 1996. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2003 and became a captain in 2009, a battalion chief in 2012 and fire chief in 2014. The Norwich Township department serves both the township and Hilliard.
Through it all, Jeff Warren said, he and his daughters, along with his wife, Dannette, a 1992 graduate of Franklin Heights, forged relationships as strong as family with firefighters and police officers from multiple agencies.
“There are so many people we can count on as friends,” he said.
Megan Warren and Kara Warren have continued to build their own professional and community relationships.
“There is so much more to being a 911 dispatcher (than taking calls),” Megan Warren said.
The Northwest Regional Emergency Communication Center in Dublin provides dispatching for the Dublin, Hilliard and Upper Arlington police departments and the Upper Arlington, Worthington, Norwich Township and Washington Township fire departments. The NRECC will begin providing dispatching services for the Worthington Division of Police in September.
Megan Warren, a Galloway resident, began working as a records clerk for the Hilliard Division of Police in 2016 and as a 911 dispatcher at the NRECC in 2017.
As a dispatcher, she learns moments before her father when Norwich Township is being sent on what appears to be a “big run” and has an intimate understanding of the kind of danger firefighters and police officers are racing toward each time they are dispatched.
“As kids, we were around a lot of first responders that were very passionate about their careers, Megan Warren said. “I decided early on that it was something I wanted to do.”
She occasionally hears her father on transmissions.
“She will critique my radio performance,” Jeff Warren said.
Megan Warren also is active in the community, including spending time as a mascot named Cell Phone Sally, who teaches children how to use 911.
Meanwhile, Kara Warren joined the family ranks of public service this summer after graduating in July from the Columbus Police Academy.
She is in field training for the Grove City Division of Police.
Kara Warren said she chose the police service rather than firefighting because it provides a greater opportunity to interact with the public on a daily basis, as well as the chance to meet in nonemergency conditions.
As an officer in Grove City working the first shift – mornings and early afternoons – she said she is enjoying the chance “to build relationships” each day and wants to keep the excitement of realizing her goal of being a police officer.
“I just never want to lose track of my first-day passion,” said Kara Warren, who also lives in Grove City. “I am a week into field training, and I don’t want this feeling to go away.”
She graduated in July with two other Grove City police officers, Nick Kingsbury and Derek Jones.
“All three are in the field-training program, and upon completion, we look forward to welcoming them to the Grove City family,” said Grove City police Lt. Jason Stern.
Kara Warren has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Wilmington College; Megan Warren has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Dayton.
While not a first responder, their sister, Emily, assists beneficiaries for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.
“All three of our daughters chose service careers, (and) we could not be more proud,” Jeff Warren said.
“Having three girls who are so selfless and giving makes me very proud that they each choose their own path and way to give back to their communities,” Dannette Warren said.