By Susan Tebben
Austintown Fire Department will not see a big change in its ranks after Monday night, nor will it see a name change for the chief.
Township trustees said they have decided to keep interim chief Andrew Frost III as the official chief of the department.
“It’s a big step,” Frost said. “But my family supported me, and they were behind me whatever decision I made. I think it’s going to be a great thing.”
Frost follows in the footsteps of his father, Andrew Frost Jr., who retired as chief in August 2012 after two decades as chief and four decades on the force.
Trustees said Frost III was the easy choice for chief since he was put in as interim chief when his father retired.
“It was the intent when he was put in as assistant chief that he was in line to become the chief,” said trustee David Ditzler. “He is absolutely the most qualified to do the job.”
Frost III went through physical tests, written tests and interviews along with other members of the department to become assistant chief.
Ditzler along with fellow trustees Jim Davis and Lisa Oles cited Frost’s experience, leadership and the $3 million in grants Frost III had obtained for the department as high marks for his candidacy to be chief.
“His job duties as assistant chief set him apart from all others,” Davis said. “I could not picture the Austintown Fire Department without Andy Frost.”
The former chief expressed the same sentiment about his son.
“All he’s ever known is the Austintown Fire Department,” Frost Jr., said by phone Wednesday. “We have the same passion for it, and I couldn’t be more happy.”
Frost III said he plans on maintaining the department his father led, which is built on the firefighters and staff.
“It’s all been around our guys, and I have no reason to change any of that,” Frost III said.
Other local officials also expressed their confidence in the new appointment.
“We’ve always had a good working relationship and I think he’ll do a great job,” said Austintown police chief Bob Gavalier, who worked with both Frost Jr. and Frost III in his tenure as police chief.
Though she gave praise to Frost III, Oles said she had hoped for more interviews with other candidates before making a decision to vote on the younger Frost’s appointment.
“I felt the job vacancy should have been posted,” Oles said Wednesday. “Jim Davis was not in office [when Frost Jr., retired] and I felt Jim was missing out on that process.”
But with his “admirable” job as assistant chief and with the respect of the department on his side, Oles said Frost III’s appointment was a good one.
“I think with the passing of the levies in the township to help the fire department, that was a direct reflection of his work and his leadership within that department.”
Frost III’s annual salary will be $72,322, according to township administrator Mike Dockry.
The first thing on the new chief’s agenda is filling his spot as assistant chief and hiring up from the part-time ranks to fill his full-time staff.
He already has an equipment grant waiting to be used as well. The department just finalized receipt of an $80,000 grant to be used for turnout gear and improved radios.