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Monroe Fire Chiefs
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 9:43:11 AM - Monroe Ohio

Photo: Outgoing Chief Neu, incoming Chief Centers

From May 22, 2012 Council Minutes

by Angela Wasson

Consideration of Motion consenting to the City Manager’s appointment of John P. Centers as
Fire Chief effective June 1, 2012.

Assistant Fire Chief John P. Centers thanked Council for the opportunity to talk to Council this
evening. He expanded on the fact that he will use the words “we” and “our” a lot in the
presentation tonight. He was taught a long time ago that one individual cannot affect change
without the support of staff members.  Everyone basically is part of the wheel, and we need to

understand what direction we are going in and try to get to that spot.

Chief Centers said, "As your new Fire Chief I plan to build on many of the programs we already

have in place. We are fortunate to have a firm foundation in place that has been created

over the last 33 years with Chief Neu as Fire Chief. We will try to remember as we go through
time where we were and how we got to where we are today. Realize those advancements and
those goals can be achieved as we move towards our advancement in the City.

"The ongoing development of our staff is critical as it relates to the mission of the Fire
Department. Our mission statement reads 'The Monroe Fire Department’s mission is to serve
our community with integrity in a safe, prompt, and professional manner.' We want to continue
to build on that. It is our label and it is one of the most important things we want to do to serve
our community in a way that makes them feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings. We
will achieve excellence through training, education, and frequent review of policies that may
affect our service delivery. We will meet or exceed the state mandates for certification in the
field of fire and emergency medical services. These things change periodically and we have to
stay abreast of those changes and up-to-date. A lot of those things that occur over the course of
time affect our ability to provide patient care. If we are not up-to-date on those things we cannot
be as effective in the field as we need to be. We have to be abreast of the changes not only in the
state, but nationally, so we are giving the highest level of care to people on a regular basis. Quite
simply, that is what saves lives.

"We will develop and implement officer training programs as well as officer candidate
programs. This will assure us that we have staff trained and ready to move into key positions as
they become available. We have to be ready for tomorrow. We will focus on the safety of our
staff as it is a critical part of our mission. We know that if our responders are not safe and well
educated that our service will indeed suffer. I have said for some time that if the firefighters are
not safe nobody is safe. They have to be at the top of their game with the best equipment that
keeps them safest because the safer they are, the safer the community is going to be. Ongoing
education is of paramount importance to our mission as applicable from the newest firefighter to the
highest ranking official. We have to stay sharp and stay in school and continue in school. Our
business changes on a regular basis and we have to be aware of those changes at all times. We
have provided a successful public education program for a great number of years. We will be reevaluating
the services we provide to our community and work towards building an even better
pathway to our customers.

"We want to market more and be out in the public more. We want them to know what we are
doing as a lot of people have questions. Even up to today we go on calls and people say you
guys got here really quickly for a volunteer fire department. We have to tell them that we
haven’t been a volunteer fire department for about 30 years, but we do the best we can. We will
succeed in this endeavor by utilizing social media, websites, and feedback requests distributed
throughout the community. We want to know how we are doing. The only way we can do that
is to get out in the community and ask. If we hear we are doing something that people are not
happy with, we will revisit those things and try to make them better. We will venture out into the
City through community groups, civic groups, schools, and other requests for service. We speak
a moderate amount with community groups now, but we want to be able to do more. We do CPR
classes, fire extinguisher, and car seat installations. A lot of people do not realize we offer that.

"We have talked for a few years about expanding our presence in the school system. We want the
kids in the grade school level to see us in uniform and they can advance through the respect
level of seeing someone in uniform. We are excited about the concept of guiding our children
and young adults through life’s path safely and perhaps being rewarded with an interest in our
chosen field.

"We have consistently enjoyed a reputation for being fiscally responsible. We will continue to
look at ways to reduce costs and continue with responsible purchasing habits. It is not our
money. It is the citizens' money and we are going to treat it that way. We buy things that are
effective, that are going to last, and are economical. We want to continue down that pathway of
buying and purchasing responsibly. We will achieve this by regularly reviewing pricing with our
vendors, requesting quotes from new vendors, and involving ourselves with collaborative
purchasing agreements with our surrounding departments. We have already started that with the
GRA that Chief New started. A lot of the equipment that we are buying now from EMS supplies
to axes and cleaning supplies are all going to be a part of that collaborative. It will give us
purchasing power when you have several fire departments all buying from the same vendor.
You receive much lower prices and it is more competitive. We will save money where money
can be saved and yet focus on providing quality equipment and services to the community.
We are developing committees to regularly review grant opportunities for our department. This
committee will review any and all grants applicable to the fire service and make
recommendations on the method to aggressively pursue those monies. There is a great deal of
grant money out there from the Federal government. We want to be able to apply for all of it.

"When there are opportunities we will gather the information and forward to Mr. Brock for
approval. We want to be able to open up all the opportunities we have to get this government

"We will continue to expand our relationship with our surrounding departments through the
Butler County Joint Response Committee and make good use of accessible resources
surrounding our community. We are going to share resources. That means we are going to do
more mutual aid.

"The rubber truly hits the road when an EMS or fire emergency occurs. Our department has
purchased many modern pieces of equipment and adopted aggressive medical based procedures
over the years. We know that the procedures and equipment we adopted have saved many lives.
The area of emergency medicine in particular changes on a regular basis. We aspire to meet
national standards as they relate to fire, rescue, and hazardous material incidents. We not only
have to be the best, but we must have immediate answers to the myriad of requests that evolve
through 911 incidents. We do not know day-to-day what questions we are going to get asked or
what situation we are going to get thrown into. I can guarantee you they expect us to have the
answers. We plan to be even more approachable by our customers, our peers, our partners, and
our neighbors. We are a beacon for help in emergencies, but often find ourselves playing
marriage counselor, child psychiatrist, confidant, and environmentalist. We have to wear
different hats all the time much like the police department does. We will maintain an open door
policy and be transparent in our operations. We want to be known as friends of the community
and be trusted with all that is critically important to our customers. It is an interesting job to
have when at the worst time in someone’s life they are going to call you. That is a huge
responsibility and we do not take it lightly and think it is very important.

"In closing, our City has seen many changes over the last decade and many more will be
forthcoming. We must remain at the ready, be prepared to meet new challenges, and remain
vigilant in our efforts to provide a safe place for our residents to live, work, and play."

Mr. Kelley moved to consent to the City Manager’s appointment of John P. Centers as Fire Chief
effective June 1, 2012; seconded by Mr. Black. Roll call vote: seven ayes. Motion carried.
Mr. Kelley cautioned Assistant Chief Centers that he has set a lot of lofty goals for a budget that
is already in place.

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