By Jim Newell
ORION TWP. — Orion Township will soon be looking for a new fire chief if the board of trustees approves a recommendation from Supervisor Chris Barnett to hire a consulting firm to conduct the search.
Orion Township Fire Department Fire Chief Rob Duke has submitted his resignation, effective March 3, according to township documents from the supervisor’s office.
The search was on the board’s agenda to address the search request during its regular meeting on Tuesday after Review press time.
Barnett had sent a memo dated Feb. 16 to board members stating that “Due to the highly technical and specific field, it is the recommendation of the Township Supervisor to utilize a third-party consultant to conduct an executive search to fill this position.”
If approved, the recommended action would authorize Barnett to enter into an agreement with a third-party consultant to conduct the search.
Duke first joined the department in 2018 after the board voted unanimously to hire him during their Feb. 20, 2018 meeting. The 2018 fire chief search cost the township up to $16,000, paid for from the Contractual Help budget.
For the current search, Orion Township human resources has requested proposals from three executive consulting firms to help find a new chief, including McGrath Consultants, the firm that handled the search in 2018. At that time, Duke was selected for an original pool of 30 candidates that was narrowed down to four finalists.
“I’m extremely humbled and honored to be selected as your next fire chief,” Duke said at the 2018 meeting. “I’m even more humbled to see the outpouring of support from the fire department. That means a lot to me, I appreciate it, especially since you don’t know me and I don’t know you, yet. So, I appreciate it. Thank you.”
Barnett requested that the township board move quickly on getting a search in place.
“Due to the quick turnaround in accepting the current chief’s resignation and starting the process for recruiting a replacement, proposals were not received by the agenda posting deadline. An updated memo will be at your seats Tuesday evening with a recommendation,” he said.
During his tenure as fire chief, Duke oversaw the fire department’s transition from a Basic Life Support (BLS) service to an Advanced Life Support (ALS) department, effective June 12, 2021.
“We are able to make this transition from BLS to ALS because of everyone’s hard work and dedication at the OTFD,” Duke said at the time.
The fire department’s transition from Basic Life Support (BLS) to Advanced Life Support took years of planning, including purchasing additional apparatus, specialized equipment and medications and hiring and training full-time paramedics.
Advanced Life Support is a set of life-saving protocols and skills used to provide urgent medical treatment. Paramedics qualified to provide ALS are trained and authorized to administer medication, perform injections and conduct airway procedures prior to arrival at a hospital.
Duke also increased the department’s personnel, most recently with two new full-time firefighters who were approved by the board at its Feb. 6, 2023 meeting.
Over Duke’s tenure, the fire department has also replaced command service vehicles, purchased a new fire engine and moved the department’s administration office from township hall to a renovated facility on Gregory Road.
In 2022, the fire department responded to more than 3,700 calls for aid and provided more than 1,900 transports to residents, according to the fire department’s regular report to the board.
WHY can’t you promote from inside the WORKING RANKS of the DEPT. ??? or does the POWERS that be feel that none of people (firefighters) in the dept. are capable of holding this position??? what happened to the (advancement up thru the ranks ?)