Joint fire district to interview five for chief

NEWTON FALLS — The Newton Falls Joint Fire District Board has selected five individuals from 34 applicants seeking to be the district’s next fire chief.

Board member Nancy Hoffman said the five applicants will be interviewed starting 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Newton Falls fire station. Each candidate is expected to be interviewed for 45 minutes.

Applicants are:

l Tim Cavnah of Howland, a firefighter from Newton Falls who has worked in Newton Falls and Howland;

l Todd Garland of Braceville, who served as fire chief in Braceville;

l Michael Gasaway of Mogadore, where he has worked as a firefighter;

l  Luke Grunder of Newton Falls, where has worked as firefighter; and

l Douglas Theobald of Struthers, with fire experience in Struthers and the Cleveland area.

Chip Comstock, attorney for the fire board, declined to be part of the selection process since he is a fire chief with the Western Reserve Joint Fire District in Mahoning County, which includes Struthers where one of the applicants is from.

The board is hoping to have someone in place by Dec. 1.

Former fire Chief Richard Bauman retired  last spring after 43 years as a firefighter and nearly 16 years as chief. Don Byrd, a longtime firefighter and fire captain in Newton Falls, is serving as interim chief.

Anita M. Smith, who was chosen in May as chief but did not have the needed credentials to transfer from Nevada to Ohio, was not among the finalists since all her credentials have not transferred, officials said. Smith’s firefighter training 1 credentials from Nevada were accepted, but her firefighter 2 credentials were not. Firefighter 2 credentials are necessary because they include certain inspection training and administrative duties needed by a fire chief, board members have said.

The credential snafu required the board to start the hiring process over in mid-August. Smith would have been the first woman to serve as a fire chief in Trumbull County had she been selected.

The fire district serves Newton Falls and Newton Township.