A well-oiled machine

By Blythe Alspaugh - [email protected]

SIDNEY — There’s more to the Sidney Fire Department than just sirens and fire hoses.

“A question that our staff is asked regularly is, ‘So what do YOU do?’ A few months ago, I shared what a day in the life of firefighter at Sidney is like. This only encompasses a small portion of what one division of the department does,” Sidney Fire Chief Chad Hollinger said.

The Sidney Department of Fire and Emergency Services is comprised of three divisions — administration, prevention, operations — each with its own responsibilities and functions, according to Hollinger.

The administration division has oversight responsibility for all department functions. The fire chief and administrative assistant are responsible for all “business” aspects of the department. This includes, but is not limited to; budgeting and other financial matters, formulation of department policy, planning and research, contractual negotiations and preparation, and maintenance of department records.

The position of fire chief requires involvement in numerous community initiatives and programs.

“(Because of this), significant time is spent meeting with various groups and leaders from the community and region,” Hollinger said.

The fire chief works closely with and supports the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Shelby County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and numerous other public sector groups. Additionally, civic involvement is a crucial function of the fire chief, according to Hollinger.

“It is imperative that the position supports the community by providing leadership and insight from the public safety perspective. Involvement in the community allows the fire chief to share focused messaging and programming that the department offers with smaller groups,” Hollinger said.

The prevention division is led by Deputy Fire Chief Dallas Davis and is supported by two fire prevention lieutenants — Lt. Ryan Heitman and Lt. Greg Francis. This division of the department is responsible for community fire safety education programs, fire and life safety inspections, and fire investigations. The deputy fire chief is often referred to as the “fire marshal” for the city. Within the state of Ohio, there is technically only one “fire marshal” and that individual is appointed by the governor and works out the Fire Marshal’s Office in Columbus. Despite this, Hollinger said that Sidney’s deputy fire chief provides essentially the same functions as the state fire marshal, just on a local scale.

The two fire prevention lieutenants conduct annual fire and life safety inspections of commercial occupancies throughout the city. Additionally, they conduct inspections of residential occupancies for childcare, adoption, and Use Compliance Certificates (UCC). Fire prevention lieutenants are responsible for scheduling and delivering fire safety programs to pre-K through fifth grade students and adult groups throughout the city. They also conduct fire extinguisher training for local businesses and industry that need this service. Finally, the prevention division oversees the Fire Investigation Unit.

“The responsibility to thoroughly investigate and determine the origin and cause of all unfriendly fires within our jurisdiction is a requirement of the Ohio Revised Code. Operations personnel assist with this endeavor, but the oversight and record retention responsibility remains a function of the prevention division,” Hollinger said.

According to Hollinger, the most public facing division of the department is the operations division. This division is led by threeassistant fire chiefs who each have a crew consisting of one lieutenant and nine firefighters that they supervise. These individuals are responsible for handling the emergency calls such as fire, EMS, technical rescue and HazMat the department receives.

“In 2022, the department is averaging 10.8 emergency incidents per day with 72.8% of those calls being EMS in nature,” Hollinger said.

Additionally, each assistant fire chief has an area of responsibility that they are responsible for with the support of at least one lieutenant. The chief of EMS Operations is Assistant Chief Keith Wiley. He is responsible for budgeting, maintenance, reporting, and oversight of all emergency medical services operations including the department’s new Tactical Medic Program that supports the Sidney-Piqua Tactical Response Team.

“Chief Wiley is instrumental in the specifications and purchasing of the department’s fleet of ambulances,” Hollinger said.

The chief of fire operations is Assistant Chief Eric Barhorst. Chief Barhorst is thesenior assistant chief and has oversight of department fire assets and inventory. He is also responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and apparatus.

“Chief Barhorst maintains records of testing and maintenance on all department fire hose, radios, and fire hydrants throughout the city,” Hollinger said.

Finally, thechief of special operations is Asst. Chief Jason Truesdale. Chief Truesdale oversees the operations, inventory, maintenance, and budgets for the Sidney-Shelby County Hazardous Materials Team as well as the department’s Technical Rescue Team. The Technical Rescue Team is trained to respond to rope, confined-space, trench, swift water, structural collapse, and auto-machinery extrication rescue situations.

Over the last several decades, the fire service has come to be known as an “all-hazards” response system, according to Hollinger.

“Aside from law enforcement functions, there are very few emergencies that fire personnel are not trained to handle. This requires significant coordination between the divisions of the department to ensure that the department has the necessary resources — administration — well-trained personnel and maintained equipment — operations — and that as many emergencies as possible are prevented — prevention,” Hollinger said.



By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]

The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Sidney Fire and Emergency Services Department, 222 W. Poplar St., Sidney.

The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Sidney Fire and Emergency Services Department, 222 W. Poplar St., Sidney.