Wednesday, April 10, 2002

New fire chief is promoted from ranks

By Cindi Andrews,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The city stayed within its ranks for a new fire chief, after a tumultuous four years for the department that saw three chiefs come and go.

        City Manager Scot Lahrmer has hired Rich Fletcher of Mason, a part-time lieutenant, Mr. Lahrmer announced Tuesday. Lt. Fletcher, 48, a Mason resident, also is a full-time firefighter and emergency medical technician shift supervisor in Norwood.

        “He will have instant credibility with the members of the fire department,” Mr. Lahrmer said.

        Also this week, the city manager made permanent Police Chief Ron Ferrell's dual role as also being safety director. Lt. Fletcher will answer to him.

        Lt. Fletcher was the only internal candidate for fire chief among five finalists. The department has been without a chief since H. Michael Drumm quit 11 months ago.

        Mr. Lahrmer asked Chief Drumm, from the Chicago area, to resign after just three months, saying he wasn't a good fit.

        Former Chief Billy Goldfeder, who took the helm when the combined Mason-Deerfield Township department divided in 1998, quit in 2000 amid an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment.

        In between the tenures of Chief Drumm and Chief Goldfeder, Randall Staley was brought in as interim chief.

        “There has been some turnover; there's been some turmoil,” Mr. Lahrmer acknowledged.

        Both he and Deputy Chief Ray Mueller are confident that will change under Lt. Fletcher.

        “He knows our system,” Deputy Chief Mueller said. “And we know Rich.”

        Lt. Fletcher's background as a paramedic also is a plus, the deputy chief said: “That's our bread-and-butter runs. Those are the runs that we do every day, all the time.”

        The new chief also will lead the department's conversion to full time. Six full-time firefighter/ EMT positions were created last year, Mr. Lahrmer said, with a view to gradually making the switch department-wide.

        “The city of Mason is growing, and I think it almost mandates that it has a full-time department,” Lt. Fletcher said.

        He will start May 6 and will earn $65,000 a year.


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