GREEN: There was a changing of the guard Monday in the city’s fire division.
Jeffrey T. Funai, 44, will take the helm of the 47-member fire department immediately as the new chief, Mayor Dick Norton said.
“I look forward to the opportunity of working with Jeff as the new leader of our fire division and continuing the great service and work begun by our former Chief Bob Calderone,” Norton said in a prepared statement.
Funai is only the third man to be called chief in the history of the community fire department, which went full time in 1980. He is the first who does not share the surname Calderone.
He was hired into the department in 1995, the year before Bob Calderone took over as chief several months after his father, Mickele “Mike” Calderone, had retired.
Funai, a 1987 Green High graduate, notes that he has a solid background when it comes to firefighting with the Calderone family. He worked as a part-time firefighter/paramedic and dispatcher for three years under retired Chief David Calderone in Coventry Township before taking his full-time job in Green.
“I test drove that Calderone and came here in 1995,” Funai joked in his first interview after the appointment was announced Monday morning.
Assistant Chief Kevin Groen had served as acting chief since Bob Calderone retired at the end of March. He did not apply for the top job.
Norton had until Dec. 13 to decide between Funai and Capt. Greg Morgan who, along with Capt. Randall Raines, finished in the top three on a civil service test given for the position. Norton offered Raines the position initially, but he turned it down.
On Monday, Funai said he hadn’t had the opportunity to get the required white chief’s hat and shirts with five gold bar patches that designate his new rank.
“I knew I had a 50 percent chance, but still it was a bit of a surprise,” he said of being named chief.
His annual salary was set at $87,000.
Funai moved to Green at the age of 5. He married his high school sweetheart, Lori. They have two children: a daughter, Taylor, 11; and a son, Drew, 7.
He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Malone College. He is enrolled in the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.
Funai serves on the South Summit Incident Management Assistance Team, the Summit County Communications Committee, the Emergency Medical Service Committee and the county Preparedness Task Force. He also serves on the State of Ohio EMS Board and is a trainer around the state in incident command.
The new chief said he will be more involved in the county’s Incident Management Team with the intention of improving communications during mutual-aid incidents. Locally, he wants Green firefighters hired in the past 10 years to learn as much as they can from firefighters hired in the 1980s and ’90s before they start retiring.
For now, he must deal with the huge responsibilities that come with the appointment.
“The plane falls out of the sky at the airport, now, it’s my fault. It’s daunting, but I am very excited,” Funai said.
The new chief officially will be sworn in at a ceremony 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17 in City Council chambers.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.