SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — After former Shawnee Township Fire Department Chief Todd Truesdale announced his retirement in December after serving in that position since 2009, the search began for his successor, and that search culminated with a swearing-in ceremony Monday for the new chief, Austin Miller, at the Shawnee Township Board of Trustees meeting.
Miller came to Shawnee Township after serving 15 years at the Van Wert Fire Department, ending his tenure there as a lieutenant in the department’s fire prevention office. For him, this move to a new department in a new role is an exciting opportunity.
“I’m extremely humbled and I’m grateful,” Miller said. “I’m ready to get to work and pull up my sleeves. It’s been an excellent group of firefighters here and a loyal community, so I’m excited to get to work for these firefighters in this community.”
Being a firefighter is the only vocation Miller has known since graduating high school, undergoing training straight out of high school before going to work at age 20 in Van Wert. Miller is hoping to bring that passion for his work and share it with the people in Shawnee Township through strengthening the bonds between the department and the community.
“I want to get our firefighters out in the community. I’m really big into community relations,” he said. “I also want to beef up training, as that is always important. But I really want the firefighters to interact with the community, in the schools, through fundraising and stuff like that where they really get to interact.”
Being in the vicinity of the Cenovus Lima Refinery and the other chemical plants on that site, the Shawnee Township Fire Department must be prepared to deal with a variety of emergency situations, Miller said.
“You have to stay training and you have to constantly stay up on the newest techniques out there,” he said. “You have to be the best at training. That’s where you need to put most of your resources because you never know what you’re going to get. You have to be prepared for anything at any time. You owe that to your community.”