New Avon Fire Chief sworn in

AVON, Ohio – Captain David Swope was sworn in by Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen as the city’s new Fire Chief on April 16. He replaces former Chief Frank Root III who recently retired.

Swope’s schedule will be changing from 20 years of shift work to a more regular work week of Monday through Friday. The days may be longer though as he noted during his first week he has been working 10-12 hours per day. “A chief’s job is always 40 hours plus.”

“We are always busy,” Swope said, “and it’s all different but now I am not running myself to emergencies. I am dealing with emergencies and issues at the station like vehicles, computers and personnel—all just a different challenge.”

Swope grew up in Kirtland in Lake County. His wife grew up in Valley View. “I started with the Avon department in 2001,” he said.

“It was a part time job and I responded to calls from home. Then the department went full time in 2003. Prior to that I used to work at the Parma Heights station for a couple of years before I was hired in Avon and coming back again in 2005.”

Swope was promoted to lieutenant in 2007 followed by a promotion to captain in 2012. As chief he will be supervising 30 shift members and five administrators with equipment that includes three ambulances, three fire engines, fire prevention cars, utility trucks and “one big ladder truck.”

Swope said there are always three paramedics on a shift. He noted all firefighters are qualified as paramedics too.

There is also a two-person fire prevention bureau for inspections and for issuing permits plus a training captain who trains the firefighters on all shifts and maintains all of their records.

When he was asked about women in the department he said one dispatcher and one part time firefighter are women.

Challenges Swope said he has seen in the department in his climb to chief have included keeping up with the growth of the city. “I like change and it’s inevitable so I embrace it,” he said. “We have fared very well with the changes. That’s what I love about this city. I thrive on it as a goal and just keep up with it and get ahead of it.”

Swope was asked what he sees ahead as he moves forward as chief.

“The one thing I think, coming in during the midyear, is that the budget is set and equipment is spoken for, so I want to focus on the members and their goals. The biggest dividends come from them and their dedication. I want to pay it all forward that I have received and I want to do more officer training to develop more leaders.”

He also mentioned a training tower is probably a year or so in the future and his goal of developing the best firefighters may even include bringing in surrounding city’s departments “with our guys as the instructors.”

The training tower is a structure, he said, “that allows for a fire to be burned inside it without burning down the structure. It’s almost like an oven. The city is looking at a piece of land for this. We can involve the police in this too like for mass shootings and we can also do searches in it and some specialty rescues as well–like a trench collapse or a rope rescue in a flood.”

But beyond the practicalities, Swope spoke to the future. “My focus is on how great this department is. I want to continue that tradition as well as the good safety and efficiency record. I want to build on that.”

Read More:New Avon Fire Chief sworn in