Fire chief retiring after 47 years
Whittaker has seen many changes, advancements during his time
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.”
Frank Whittaker stands near an old fire truck at the fire station.