With a new chief and series of promotions, the Washington Fire Department celebrated a time of transition Wednesday evening.
Washington C.H. City Manager Joe Denen introduced the incoming chief, Tim Downing, who is replacing the retiring chief, Tom Youtz, in the downstairs area of the firehouse in front of family and friends. Denen said he was also proud to introduce the other integral members of the fire department.
“Tonight is honestly a little bit emotional for me,” Denen said. “This is the greatest amount of change the Washington Fire Department has experienced in a number of years. It’s a place my father worked, my grandfather worked and my great-grandfather worked. And I can honestly say I have never known a nicer group of firefighters than these guys. They’re simply good people, and it is a pleasure to celebrate a number of promotions tonight.”
Along with Downing, Jason O’Dierno was promoted to captain, Casey Coil was promoted to lieutenant, and three new firefighters were recognized: Scott Monroe, Matt Smith and Steve Yeoman.
Washington C.H. City Council Chairman Jim Chrisman presented family members and significant others of these individuals with the badges, which were then pinned onto the uniforms of the firefighters. After Downing received his badge from his wife, Kate, he spoke to the crowd of the importance of family.
“One of the things that’s important in the fire service is we become a family,” he said. “We are a big family and I love these guys. I’ve been through lots of things with them that most people couldn’t imagine. One of the things that happens when you live with your family like that, and you work hard and you fight fires and you run into places that most people are running out of, is you become very, very close. But you also miss meals, you miss birthday parties, you miss Christmases, special events….a lot of things that our families, our extended families, have to put up with.”
In order to properly recognize the family members of firefighters, Downing presented Doris Smith, grandmother of Matt Smith, with a certificate of appreciation. Her husband, Don Smith, was a firefighter and photographer for the Washington Fire Department, and her two grandsons are both in fire service.