Sandusky fire Capt. Jim Green recently assumed interim chief duties, replacing Paul Ricci, who retired this past week. Ricci served as chief for about three years.
Ricci recommended Green to temporarily succeed him at a recent public meeting. Sandusky city commissioners affirmed the suggestion.
“As a senior captain, I felt as if it was my responsibility to take control and take charge of the department” Green said. “When Paul left, I felt as if I needed to fill that void until we found someone”
It’s not known exactly how long Green, a Castalia resident, will serve as interim chief.
An ongoing search to find a full-time fire chief started about two months ago. Spearheaded by commissioner Naomi Twine, committee members should pick a permanent chief by July.
Green’s actually one of among a dozen finalists seeking to become the permanent chief.
“We’ll see what happens,” Green said. “I was born and raised here, and I like the area and the people here. As far as the department, it’s a good department that provides an excellent service to the citizens”
Green’s assuming a leadership role during a tumultuous time for fire operations.
Earlier this year, a fiscal crunch forced commissioners to cut $1.1 million from their $16.3 million everyday operating budget.
The reductions impacted fire operations harder than any other department mainly because funds from a federal employment grant, maintaining 53 full-time positions for about three years, recently dried up, and local tax dollars can’t support those manpower levels.
Less money for fire operations meant:
•Decreasing staffing levels, through attrition and not layoffs, from 53 full-time positions earlier this year to 50 today.
•Closing fire station No. 7 on Venice Road near Toft Dairy on various days beginning this past week through October.
•Slashing opportunities for overtime and training.
Additionally, Ricci and another high-ranking department commander, fire marshal Rudy Ruiz, left the department already this year.
Despite these setbacks, Green — who supports a levy or tax increase specifically funding fire operations in the future — reiterated the city has been, is and will remain safe.
“This doesn’t mean that fire operations or fire services are going to be worse,” Green said. “Right now, we are trying to provide the best service through these tough financial times”