Fire chief re­tir­ing after 47 years

Whit­taker has seen many changes, ad­vance­ments during his time

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Tawana Roberts troberts@news-her­ald.com @TawanaRobert­sNH on Twit­ter

After 47 years in fire ser­vice, Painesville Town­ship Fire Chief Frank Whit­taker is re­tir­ing.

Whit­taker be­gan his ca­reer as a ju­nior fire­man for the Perry Fire Depart­ment in 1970. He be­came the as­sis­tant fire chief for Painesville Town­ship in 2002 and has been the fire chief since 2004.

A lot has changed over the years.

“When I started in fire ser­vice, we didn’t do EMS,” he said. “We re­sponded to calls, but we didn’t do EMS or trans­port. Now EMS is 80 per­cent of what we do.”

In ad­di­tion to emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices, Whit­taker said op­er­a­tions have also ad­vanced.

“If they would have told me 25 years ago that we would be deal­ing with weapons of mass de­struc­tion and do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism, I never would have imag­ined that,” he said.

He chal­lenges younger fire­fight­ers to think about what the depart­ment will do in the next 20 years.

One trend in fire de­part­ments that Whit­taker be­lieves will grow is well­ness and pre­ven­ta­tive care.

“In­stead of go­ing to doc­tor’s of­fices, in the fu­ture peo­ple may be able to get vac­ci­na­tions and do well­care vis­its at fire sta­tions in the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Fire Ser­vice is a grow­ing and ever-chang­ing field.

While Whit­taker looks for­ward to re­tire­ment, he said he will miss the depart­ment.

“We have a re­ally great depart­ment, “he said. “The chem­istry is good. We just

re­ally have a great crew. I have been very for­tu­nate. I think it is just time to move on and I know I have a great re­place­ment.”

Whit­taker said he is con­fi­dent that As­sis­tant Fire Chief Frank Huff­man, who will suc­ceed him, will be a great chief.

Huff­man be­came the as­sis­tant fire chief last year.

Whit­taker ex­plained in a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view that an as­sis­tant fire chief is usu­ally se­lected when the chief is pre­par­ing to leave.

Whit­taker’s last day as chief was Oct. 27.

“I could not have done any of this with­out my fam­ily,” he said.”My wife and kids have been very sup­port­ive.”

TAWANA ROBERTS — THE NEWSHER­ALD

Frank Whit­taker stands near an old fire truck at the fire sta­tion.

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