By BOB COUPLAND
Since he was 16, Charles Joseph has been part of a local fire department, having watched his father who worked as a firefighter in Warren Township.
This week, Joseph, a captain with the Champion Fire Department, will receive the state ”Fire Officer of the Year” award from the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office at a ceremony in Columbus noting his dedicated service and accomplishments.
A sign outside the fire station congratulates Joseph on the honor.
Joseph has been fighting fires and going on ambulance runs for more than 23 years in Champion.
Joseph, selected from thousands of fire officers across the state, will receive recognition in Columbus at the State Fire Marshal’s office on Wednesday.
Fire Chief John Hickey said Joseph has been with the department full time since March 1990.
”He has done a lot since he has been here and deserves this honor whether he thinks he does or not,” Hickey said.
Hickey nominated Joseph and completed an application and a narrative on why he felt Joseph was ideal for the award.
He said he believes Joseph may be the first individual from Trumbull County to receive this award.
“This honor recognizes what Joseph had done and all that he has accomplished and what his presence here means, not only to the fire department but Champion Township.” Hickey said.
Joseph, a Newton Falls resident, said he started as a volunteer firefighter in 1982 in Braceville. Hired in 1990 in Champion full-time, Joseph also worked 16 years in Braceville finishing there as fire chief.
”I put in more hours as chief in Braceville. It was a constant 24 hours a day job. That position became more time than I could put into it,” he said.
His father was the one who inspired his career choice.
“Basically, my dad (Charles Joseph Sr.) was a full-time firefighter for Warren Township. Growing up in Braceville close to the fire station, I saw a lot of what went on there. It was almost an expected thing when you become old enough to join the fire department you did it as part of your expected civic duty,” he said,
Joseph said besides being a career for him he finds firefighting an interesting profession.
“Anyone who is a firefighter has to love the job. Every day brings something new here,” Joseph said.
He said the best aspect of the job is the people he works with.
Joseph said he remembers when he first started in Champion there were only two firefighters assigned to a shift augmented with volunteers.
”There were times when you worked by yourself. Today there are four firefighters on duty 24 hours a day,” he said.
Joseph also volunteered four years in Newton Falls.
When he heard he received the award last month, Joseph said he really did not know much about it.
”I have not known anyone who has received it,” he said.
Joseph said he is humbled.
“I was surprised when I learned I was selected,” he said.
Joseph said he probably will retire in 17 months with 33 years in firefighting include 21 as a volunteer
“I don’t know where it will take me. I may still work part time as a firefighter or volunteer somewhere,” he said.
Joseph said a firefighter has to be a “jack of all trades,” especially at a smaller department where duties are often shared.
Hickey said he started at the department 10 years ago working on the same shifts with Joseph.