LIMA — The Lima Fire Department has a new chief.
During the City of Lima’s weekly press conference, Andy Heffner was sworn in as the department’s 19th fire chief, replacing Bruce Black, who had retired from the position in late January after serving roughly three years in the position.
“The great thing isn’t becoming a fire chief. It’s becoming the fire chief of Lima, my hometown. I went to Lima Senior. I played on Simmons Field. I watched countless games at Lima stadium,” Heffner said. “That’s what makes this wonderful. It’s because this is my hometown, the place where I wanted to be.”
Heffner said he first got involved with the fire department at the urging of his brother, past Fire Chief Mark Heffner, roughly 25 years ago. Since then, he’s responded to innumerable calls for service.
After being sworn in Wednesday, Heffner thanked his family for putting up with the stress caused by those calls for service, especially when Heffner had to leave during an emergency due to his work. For example, when an icestorm caused power outages, Heffner would often have to leave to help leaving his family behind to deal with the problem at home.
“You can’t get to this position unless you have a great support system. So thank you guys. I mean, I couldn’t be here without you.”
Heffner also had praise for the Lima’s firefighters, including his brother, who provided guidance to him throughout his career.
“(Lima firefighters) are dedicated, educated, highly trained and motivated, and they’re ready to serve our community,” Heffner said. “Lou Holtz said you can’t have a great team without great players. And we can’t have a great fire department without great firefighters, and that’s what you guys have.”
As for the first initiatives as chief, Heffner said the first challenge will be successfully making the transition in the change of leadership. Since Heffner moved into the chief position after serving as deputy chief, a number of other department workers will need to be shuffled upward.
Replacing Heffner as deputy fire chief, for example, will be former battalion chief Jack McDermitt.
“I’m going to do the best job I can to serve them. Because I serve them well, then they serve you guys well. They are wonderful, and they excite me every day to come to work,” Heffner said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.