EAST PALESTINE Officials consider 6 for post of fire chief

The current fire chief will retire in October.
EAST PALESTINE -- Six veteran firefighters are vying for fire chief, the city fire department's only full-time position.
Merle Stewart, who has been fire chief since 1973, gave the city notice two years ago of his intent to retire this year. His last day will be Oct. 31.
City Manager Gary Clark said he wanted to accept applications now so the interview process can be completed soon and the new chief can be on board sometime this spring.
"We aren't going about this in a hurry, but we want the new chief to have some time to work with Merle," Clark said this morning.
Clark said no more applications are being accepted. He said the next step in the process will be psychological testing of all applicants.
He said all six firefighters will complete psychological testing and interviews, and the list will be narrowed from there. He said the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association will aid in the interview process.
Requirements: City regulations require that applicants for chief must have completed the 240-hour firefighters course and have a minimum of three years of firefighting experience. Besides the interviews and psychological testing, finalists must also pass background checks, a polygraph test and a physical, Clark said.
Applying for the position are:
U James Akenhead, a captain with the city fire department since 1985. He joined the department in 1975 as a firefighter and became an emergency medical technician in 1976. He is president and general manager of Akenhead Ice Cream Co. of East Palestine.
U Richard McElroy, a city firefighter since 1978. He became a paramedic and an instructor of firefighters and emergency medical services personnel in 1994. McElroy has also completed hazardous materials training. He is a projects manager for Early International Sales and Service of East Palestine.
U Rich Pillsbury, a city firefighter and EMT and a part-time police officer since 1979. He is the city street department supervisor.
U Dennis Stock, a city firefighter and paramedic since 1993 who has completed hazardous materials training. He is a dispatcher with the Lisbon police department and a paramedic for the city of Columbiana and KLG, a private ambulance company.
U Brett Todd, a firefighter with the Negley Volunteer Fire Department for 23 years and Negley chief from 1987 to 1990. He has been an EMT for 18 years and is trained as a fire inspector. He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from Youngstown State University and has been a full-time dispatcher for East Palestine police and fire services since 1986 after starting the position part-time in 1979.
U John Trochek has been a city firefighter and paramedic since 1987 and has hazardous materials certification. He is owner of the Pie Factory in East Palestine and has a business management degree from Kent State University.

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