Saturday, September 15, 2001

Fire inspector named as chief

Steve Schewe is 17-year veteran

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        FORT WRIGHT — City Council didn't have to look far to find its next fire chief; he's been there more than two years.

        Council this week selected Lt. Steve Schewe, 35, the fire inspector since 1999. He replaces Mark Muench, who resigned in July to take a job in Cynthiana.

        “I didn't expect to get this job this early,” Chief Schewe said.

        Nonetheless, the lifelong Fort Wright resident will get to decide what to do with an extra $11,000. Fort Wright City Administrator Larry Klein said Chief Schewe will earn about $46,000 a year compared to his former salary of nearly $35,000.

        “Obviously, we think he's the best candidate,” Mr. Klein said. “He was recommended by a committee of volunteers. He's very intelligent, he's well-liked and well-respected among his peers.”

        Chief Schewe has fought fires for Fort Wright his entire adult life. He joined the department as a volunteer after graduating from Covington Catholic High School in 1984. He became a paid firefighter/emergency medical technician in 1998.

        “I had an interest in that (fire) equipment,” Chief Schewe said. “Later, I enjoyed the people who were in the fire department. They're pretty dedicated to the community.”

        Assistant Chief Ron Becker remembers the 18-year-old Mr. Schewe.

        “He was a typical new guy,” Chief Becker said. “He was gung-ho, full of energy.”

        And Chief Schewe is just as excited now that he leads the 45-member department.

        He said he wants to acknowledge his firefighters more frequently and explore the possibility of a cash incentive program that would reward those who stay with the department for several decades.

        “I want to recognize people who are there now throughout the year versus once or twice,” Chief Schewe said. “I think the time has come where we're going to have to explore the (cash incentive) idea.”

        Steve Schewe was named as chief of the Fort Wright fire department, which he joined as an 18-year-old volunteer.


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